Loving Lithography

Yesterday afternoon I ventured beyond the southern peripherique in sloppy, snowy weather to attend a lithography workshop organised by the Harvard Club. Yes, I was mixing with the finest and brightest once again, only this time I actually felt like one of the most qualified attendees. My non-law/business background and lack of doctorate, made me one of the more ‘artistic’ people in the group – or at least I told myself that.

What's behind mystery door number one?

What’s behind mystery door number one?

Thanks to my friends Jen and Greg, I was able to attend the workshop run by an American artist, Jonathan Shimony, who has lived in Paris for many years. He originally moved here for one year and then never left and now has an amazing studio with lithography, etching and other styles of printing presses. I walked in, inhaled the fumes of paints, solvents and other delicious chemicals and felt as if I had just walked into heaven. I was brought back to earth by the sudden need for me to shake hands and pretend to be interested in networking with Harvard Alumni (don’t get me wrong – they were all very nice people, I just find the whole thing disgustingly fake.)

Jonathan began by discussing the history of printing and lithography and I became instantly aware of how little I know about art history. Here I am attempting to get into these fields and I feel like I am a bit of a fraud. Obviously these things take time and research and you need to learn them from somewhere – I just haven’t.

We were then given crayon-like drawing implements and spaces on large blocks of limestone and told to draw. A few scratched heads and embarrassed faces later, everyone had added their piece of ‘art’ to the printing blocks and Jonathan then demonstrated the printing techniques on his amazing press.

It was wonderful to watch and participate in the whole printing process although I have so many questions and want to go back and experiment further. Jonathan mentioned the lack of continued interest in the lithography methods and so when I waved my arms around with excitement and declared that I will continue the traditions for years to come, he said I was welcome to come and be his studio assistant whenever I wanted, just as long as I was willing to get my hands dirty. OH YES PLEASE! If only this had happened two years ago and I wasn’t about the leave the country… Even so, I hope to be able to go in and spend a few days with Jonathan and watch the process much closer and ask the millions of questions floating around in my head.

Sometimes my talent amazes me.

Sometimes my talent amazes me.

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6 Responses to “Loving Lithography”

  1. Jen says:

    Networking with Harvard alums may be “disgustingly fake,” but it’s what got you in the door to the workshop, so I wouldn’t knock it too much!

    By the way, my personal definition of “networking” is simply “being a friendly person and being interested in what other people are doing, so you can see whether that leads to some common interest in which you might be able to share information or help each other.” So according to me, you are a pretty decent networker.

  2. Jess says:

    I can see what you’re saying, however I think there is a distinct difference between how Australians and Americans act when meeting new people. We tend to not care that much about the other person, while Americans care a lot. It’s probably a good thing – I just find it weird. And networking is more than that (in my opinion). Networking is about trying to find out what that person can do for you to get you further up the career ladder. I have no interest in ladders apart from those that get me closer to light bulbs.

  3. Greg says:

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that the connection you made with the guy who ran the workshop was based on mutual common interest. Networking!

    Given the subject of the workshop, it wouldn’t have been at all surprising if there were other artists or people connected to the art world there. More opportunities for networking!

    Looking for opportunities to help others, be helped by them, and work together in the future doesn’t preclude the possibility of caring about them as a person. Even if the other person can’t do anything for you, you’re allowed to care about them anyway.

  4. Jess says:

    Yes, yes. I am just cynical. I have no problem with making connections with people, it is just the weird over-excitable, ear-to-ear smiles that scare me. It is purely a personal thing and probably more a reflection on the fact that everyone else in the room was five times more intelligent and educated than me and it all boils down to my insecurities. Wow. This is like a session with a psychiatrist. I hope you two don’t charge as much πŸ˜›

  5. Jen says:

    Hey Jess– I agree that doing networking in the way that you define it is rather distasteful! I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to do it either if that was how I thought of it. And I admit that many people do do networking that way (they are annoying). But I think lots of other people do it my way too– because I’ve been helped/mentored a lot over the years by colleagues who had nothing obvious to gain from helping me. So I try to return the favor to the universe and help people whenever I see the chance.

    I’m interested in your observation about Australian people being less interested in getting to know strangers. That may mean that Australians culturally closer to the French than we Americans are! πŸ˜‰

    I now consider myself a good networker (as I define it), but that wasn’t always the case. I am pretty introverted and going up to strangers at events like the one the other day makes me anxious. But once I decided to make the process all about the other person(s) rather than me, it removes the feeling that I’m being judged by everyone (and I get to do the judging… just kidding! muhahhahaw!!)

  6. Katy says:

    Just read this entry! Jess, I wholeheartedly LOVE networking the way it’s done in America! Through networking I have had the opportunity to meet so many fascinating people who I simply would not have met otherwise! Admittedly there are some creepy groups who will only let in one-member of a particular profession, and their sole raison d’Γͺtre is to have people referred to their company, and in return refer their clients to other members businesses. These I do not enjoy. Some of the cooler networking organisations are themed groups like the Social Media Club, where everyone meets and has a presentation, and then mingles over nibbles to chat about anything and everything – with the presentation a common ground to get the conversation started! Brilliant!

    When I first moved to America, my British cynicism came with me – I still find it somewhat unnerving that as soon as I walk in to a shop over here I will be greeted with a “hi, how are you today?”, where back home I would be able to go in to a shop, browse, pick something out, pay for that item, and leave, without having been acknowledged at all. I found that comfortable. I still struggle with the over-friendliness that at first I deemed totally fake. Now I realise that it’s only “fake” to me – to all those around me this is appropriate and normal.

    I’m learning slowly but surely, and now as the mother of two little British/American hybrids I’m becoming more and more deliberately aware of the sociology of their two cultures, and which elements are preferable to me and why. I think you should give networking another go — step out of your comfort zone, and blog about it to let us know how it goes :)

    Lots of love xx

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