Aaron Jenkins : Owner, Screen Printer

Aaron Jenkins : Owner, Screen Printer

The Black Arts Studio is owned and operated by Aaron Jenkins.  Here is his story.....

"I started screen printing over a decade ago to print shirts for my band to sell while we were on tour. I bought some basic equipment and taught myself the process through lots of reading and trial and error. Whenever my band was home between tours I ended up getting temp jobs as a press assistant at a few larger local print shops. This taught me a lot of production techniques that I couldn’t have learned on my own.  It also taught me a lot of things NOT to do if I ever had my own shop.  After a number of years on the road, my band decided to slow down and stop touring. I applied for a job at another print shop and within a few months I was promoted to general manager. I managed that apparel screen printing shop for seven years while slowly building up The Black Arts Studio into my fulltime business.  My experience working for other shops solidified in me a drive to want to innovate.  A drive to never settle into a set method with no room for new ideas.  It also made me want to run a more responsible print shop that values conservation and harm reduction when it comes to the environmental impact that screen printing has.  The more I screen print and the more I learn the more fascinating the process becomes. Screen printing is the most versatile printing process there is. Screen printing is all around us. From t-shirts, to artwork, to the ceramic tiles in your kitchen, to the rear defroster on your car windshield, to the metal connections that make your smart phone touch screen work, to solar panels; screen printing is involved in all of it. That is why I love the process and what has kept me interested in it all these years."

What's up with the name?

Where did the name, The Black Arts Studio, come from? When I was learning to screen print the process had an almost magical quality to it. I often found myself thinking “how the heck do they do that?” It was like some kind of sorcery. And that word, sorcery, has followed me around through many conversations with people about screen printing. A lot of people are mystified by the process. The name also has a historical root in printmaking. Printmaking has been called The Black Art since Gutenburg invented the first moveable-type printing press. Some say it is because the typesetters hands and arms would be stained black from the ink and metal, some say it is because people of that time thought the ability to reproduce a bible so quickly had to be the work of the devil. And others say the term just comes from the fact that printers throughout history tended to be superstitious types who blamed errors on shop demons (hence the naming of printing shop apprentices as “printers devils”). So I chose to name my shop The Black Arts Studio for a number of reason: the black ink that always ends up stuck under my fingernails, the historical reference to printmaking history, and the many times I have heard the word sorcery used to describe screen printing.