Before I start writing about practice, I’m just going to state here that I know the best solution for the environment alone is to not make, consume, or do anything at all. That would be true of any consumption – clothing, food, technology, etc.
That isn’t what I’m try to do, I’m not going to go to ‘zero’ because all of life’s experiences require consumption of some kind. Consider everything that is required to go for a walk: shoes, clothing, time, space, access, and a place from which to go and return.
Rather, I am trying to align my practice to a particular definition of sustainability, as set out by the United Nations Brundtland Commission in 1987:
“meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
and to go one step further – to print in the present, and to support the ability of those who wish to print in the future, through practice sharing, research, and in some cases, documenting when it goes wrong so others can learn and improve on my errors.
It sounds more grand and noble than it really is. I take personal pleasure in the research (nerd alert). I find satisfaction in sourcing economic, sustainable materials and making them last. I take comfort that a long day in the studio does not result in feeling light-headed from petroleum distilled solvents, and in knowing that I and others are less likely to suffer long term adverse effects of exposure to hazardous materials. And I am interested in how this research effects the work itself, aesthetically in surface and mark making, and subject matter.
Bottom line, the goal is to make prints forever, not to conclude that printmaking should simply stop.