Pressure on Paper (And Other Things)

Mar 4, 2016

Don Ed Hardy, "Dreamer", direct gravure copperplate etching in two colors
Credit noe tanigawa


(l-r) Gift Print Artist Don Ed Hardy and Juror and Visiting Artist, Paul Mullowney
Credit Duncan Dempster

   A record number of submissions and robust participation from across the state have made the Honolulu Printmaker’s 88th Annual Juried Exhibition on now one of the best ever.  Printmaker, tattoo master Don Ed Hardy shows his latest work and the former master printer from Maui’s Hui No‘eau, Paul Mullowney, returned to jury the show.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.

Long shot of the Honolulu Printmakers' 88th Annual Exhibition
Credit noe tanigawa


Master printmaker Paul Mullowney, of Mullowney Printing in San Francisco, is the juror of this year’s Honolulu Printmakers’ show.  Familiar with Hawai‘i’s printmaking scene, he says he’s seen some fine woodcuts, lithography and etchings.

“I’m looking for an approach to traditional craft and skills by younger people and taking those skills and really pushing the media.  I see that happening.”

Erika Garcia, "Pomaikai", screenprint
Credit noe tanigawa

Mullowney presided over a hotbed of creativity when he ran the print studio at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center on Maui.  Pushing the media for him means, making bigger prints, more risky imagery and just a high level of skill.

“What speaks to me is when I see work that’s kind of vulnerable, to show a vulnerable aspect of their psyche or psychology.  I call that risk taking. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Artist, tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy is going in exactly that direction.  He’s painting and making prints these days.  For several years he was a global brand, think 60’s Americana and Japanese tattoo imagery on everything from biker jackets to bikinis.  You know, the arrow stabbed hearts, the buxom blondes, ribbons, skulls, etc., in Hardy’s case blended seamlessly with masterful depictions of dragons, geisha, waves, octopi, eagles, carp, and more.  Hardy has muscle memory of thousands of powerful images.  These days he combines them in largely gestural spaces, and the two newest prints, companions to the Honolulu Printmakers’ Gift Print, are chewy salads of glyphs, puzzling yet disturbingly familiar.

Hiroki Morinoue, "Ceramic Tile Wall", woodcut
Credit noe tanigawa

  Hardy and Mullowney have worked together since meeting in Japan two decades ago.  Mullowney says tattoo and prints are linked by the democracy of it all.  Anyone can wear art on their skin and printing is all about mass distribution. 

“I see a lot of interest in figurative work, and again, craft, and just the analog thing, the antidote to our digital age, of mass produced images at the touch of a finger.  Now my students who grew up with this stuff they’re more interested in getting their hands dirty and working laboriously on really intricate drawings over a long period of time.”  Mullowney says letterpress is huge—moveable type!  Remember Gutenberg, from 1450? 

Nelson Ishida, "A Tribute to El Greco", lithograph
Credit noe tanigawa

“The internet can always go down and if you have an etching press or a letter press or a silk screen studio you can still get the word out.”

Prints, paper and wheat paste—have sparked revolutions!

Check out the latest images by Don Ed Hardy.  Hardy’s son continues the work at his San Francisco tattoo studio, Tattoo City

Yoo Soo Kim, "Dancing With Heart Song", monoprint
Credit noe tanigawa