On the other side of downtown LA, in the loft area of the city often referred to as the Arts District, Hard Pressed Studios presents yet another aspect of printmaking and a striking contrast both in terms of process, style and ownership.
Hard Pressed Studios is a relatively new press, founded five years ago by artist and masterprinter Karen Fiorito. Karen, like so many others in LA, made a slow migration from the East coast towards the west coast with a long pause as she completed her MFA in printmaking at Arizona State University. It was there that her work flourished into its present politically driven form and as she completed her thesis research she began making contacts with like-minded artists in LA.
Her move to LA was speared on by Robbie Conal and John Carr both of whom have now collaborated extensively with Karen. As a political artist herself, she was drawn to the quick nature and relatively low cost of process color screen printing for images to be postered and pasted up. And as a masterprinter Karen now seems to walk the lines between the world of street art and fine art printing, as she masterfully hand prints extremely detailed and exacting high quality works for artists like Conal, Shephard Fairey and Mear One.
Artists who grativate to her for the hand-printed quality of her process, her fluency in screen printing and her ability to handle special materials such as glitter, flocking and metallics without sacrificing quality. The image here is one of Robbie Conal’s musicians’ triptych that Karen printed.
And it is not by chance Karen has and continues to work with such artists (here Dwellone’s Peace 47) but rather it reflects her philosophy on printmaking as a whole. In her own words, “I choose to work with mostly political artists because I believe that the true nature of printmaking is to take the means of production out of the hands of the corporations (or the ruling class) and put it back in the hands of artists. It has taken me a while to come to that realization, but I believe that is what first attracted me to the medium: in printmaking, the medium is the message.”