Self-Expression through the Art of Screenprinting

By Nish Israni, SKETCH Placement Student

Nish Israni is a student from George Brown College who did her placement at SKETCH during our Winter art-making season. She is inspired by the environment at SKETCH and wanted to represent it through her favourite art medium, writing. She hopes to become a social worker someday. 

The snow is falling hard on the windows, yet the sun is shining through. It’s a winter wonderland and I am in the SKETCH studios, located inside the Artscape Youngplace building, watching folks as they engage in some screenprinting. Some folks are working away at re-purposing their screens, removing the staples, and putting on new material while some are scribbling away at their designs in anticipation of creating new prints for their swag. The atmosphere is charged with creativity in action.

I watch an artist, Alex, meticulously drawing skateboards as if they were being tossed up into the air. I admire his artwork, from afar, intrigued when he tells me that he loves to skateboard at the park. He is from Peru, here in Toronto for two years so far.

Luka (above and below)

As we strike up a conversation, I find out many interesting things about him, and his screenprinting journey at SKETCH.  Alex had been looking for a place where he could do screen printing for a while, but everything he found was quite expensive. When a little birdie told him about SKETCH, he decided to come check it out and was pleased to find a screenprinting studio, as well as all the other artistic expressions that SKETCH offered. He was inspired by the folks who attended SKETCH, especially those who dabbled in screen printing as their medium. He started to think more creatively. One day while on a walk by the lake, the logo for his up-and-coming brand dawned on him. It would be a flying fish, the very first design he created in the screenprinting studio at SKETCH.

Channelling his creativity at SKETCH is in stark contrast to what Alex was studying in school, Supply and Chain Management. SKETCH offers him a space to explore his interests, and be connected to his artistic soul. He is proud of the artistic growth he has made at SKETCH through screen printing as well as ceramics. Since his father passed away, Alex has found a way to continue his legacy as he expresses himself through the arts. Turns out his father was quite the artist too. Alex even has begun the process of transforming space at his home into a screen printing studio so that he can immerse himself in the business of screen printing. SKETCH has been a stepping stone for Alex so that he may further his dreams, whereas in Luka’s case, SKETCH provides an escape from the dreary routine of his week, a place to come and make some art.

Luka likes to screenprint because he feels it’s cheaper than buying clothes, and gives him freedom to make shirts that he wouldn’t be able to acquire elsewhere. He follows a lot of obscure bands that don’t have their own merchandise, especially bands from other countries so he creates prints that showcase them, and spread their gospel. He really likes the DIY style of screenprinting, as it draws him in to be more creative with his expression, and it helps save money while looking fashionable. He recalls the first time he ever entered the screenprinting studio, and how daunting it seemed but found that it really wasn’t that difficult. He hopes that folks won’t be deterred by the equipment or the look and feel of the screen printing studio because it’s worth it once you produce your own swag. SKETCH has all the materials you could need, and an awesome instructor in Rosa with tons of experience under her belt to guide you along.

Alex

Raj, another artist,  travels an hour back and forth just to make it to SKETCH. It’s the only place that fuels his creativity in so many directions, such as music, photography, visual arts, ceramics and screen printing. He believes in the power of positivity and creates prints that reflect that, and which uplift those he sees on the streets. He is most proud of his work in creating a print that says, “Why just rest in peace, why not live in peace too?”

Raj

I think that’s a fine motto to live by, and one that begs the question of what it takes to live in peace. For the folks who attend SKETCH and find so many ways to live, love and tell their art to the world find peace in their expression. When you are making the art that is most compelling to you, it’s easier to sleep at night. Making art is a powerful, healing and transformative experience that can shape and shift your perspectives into dreaming a better world for yourself and others.

"You really want that utopian ideal of what our world could be? You want to be proudly and ACTIVELY anti-racist, more than fearing being called a racist? I want that for you too. If so, then do the work, educate yourself and others stand by us loudly, consistently, FOREVER." - Clara Amfo, BBC 1 Radio Host

Dear SKETCH Community,

The last two weeks have been yet another reminder that the Black community continues to be under attack by white supremacist systems. SKETCH's board of directors and staff sends their deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who we have most recently lost including Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and D’Andre Campbell, and all those whose deaths have not been televised.

In our grief and anger at these senseless murders committed by the police, SKETCH is ensuring that we stay accountable to our Black youth artists, staff and the Black community at large, by taking swift action to ensure that folks are supported, uplifted, taken care of and their voices amplified, as they continue to organize and march on the front lines for justice.

As an organization that is led by mainly white leadership, we are deeply committed to examining and activating our role as an accomplice to address violence, racism, oppression, and discrimination in our sector, in Toronto and in society generally.

This Means:
  • We will continue to look within and address our own biases and the ways that systemic and structural racism plays itself out in SKETCH;
  • We will increase investment and resources to young Black Artists;
  • We will endorse Black leadership in SKETCH and in arts and culture;
  • We will support self-care and resources for our Black staff; and
  • Our leadership will connect with other white leaders of arts and culture organizations to support Black leadership in the sector with resourced opportunities to lead in meaningful ways.

We want to acknowledge the trauma and grief of those who create with and work at SKETCH, who are Black. We know you endure violence on a daily basis. We want to reach out to support you, stand and work together with you, to fight for justice, for your health, and for your futures.

We seek to learn daily, with you, how to enact a more just present and future. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for calling us to be better. All of our liberations depend on it.

We join the movements for prison abolition, and for strong redirection of funding for policing to go toward community-based transformative justice efforts.

We call on the Arts Councils to create a Black Artists Fund to support Black Artists and Black Arts and Culture Organizations, recognizing and investing in their leadership in arts and culture, and in building fair and inclusive communities.

We encourage the non-Black community members of SKETCH to stand with us and take action by:
  • Educating yourself on the issues;
  • Supporting your Black staff with personal time for self-care;
  • Supporting the community by buying from Black-owned business (which include Black artists at SKETCH);
  • Donating to organizations that are directly supporting Black folks;
  • Reposting and resharing information on your social media feeds;
  • Having constant conversations with your peers, families, and friends; and
  • Signing petitions that call for justice.

With so many ways to actively support the dismantling of systems that continue to oppress the Black community, silence is not an option.

We welcome you all to join SKETCH in allying yourselves with the Black community in the fight for liberation for all, not as a token event, but one that actually leads to a re-education, re-evaluation, and unbiased and selfless action.

In solidarity,

SKETCH Working Arts

Artwork: Egwu Ogwu Mystic Dance by Kanna Anigbogu

Dear Friends and Investors,

Greetings from the SKETCH Project Home Team! We hope that you and your family are keeping well and safe during this time.

UPDATE: SKETCH is placing the capital campaign to purchase our studios on brief hiatus until the fall.

Our campaign has been a great success so far, with over $370,000 raised in funds and Community Bonds! However, in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, SKETCH is taking action to suspend the campaign to allow the time needed for those excited about our campaign to be in a more secure position to participate.

If you have already donated to the campaign, or purchased SKETCH Community Bonds, we deeply appreciate your commitment to Project Home. If you've just recently submitted your bond-purchase documents, we will still process your investment.

Have any questions about your donations or bond purchase? Please do not hesitate to contact SKETCH Executive Director, Rudy Ruttimann at rudy@sketch.ca.

This summer, we'll be working with our campaign partners and SKETCH community to determine exactly when we relaunch in the Fall. We'll be sure to keep you posted over the summer.

You can still inquire about SKETCH, our capital campaign, and its progress at invest@sketch.ca or by following us at @SKETCHToronto.

Thank you for your time, and we wish all the best for you and your family.

-The SKETCH Team & Campaign Advisory

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