BIG INK at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD

Artistic field:


BIG INK, a nationally recognized print arts organization, is coming to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in 2019.  Maryland Hall has invited BIG INK to host a two-day event where prints will be pulled from large-scale woodblock plates carved ahead of time by sixteen artists.  We are seeking image proposals from emerging, mid-career, and established visual artists who would like to carve a woodblock, at least 24" x 36" in dimension, to print at the event.  No prior printmaking experience is required. Any artist that has an interest in print media and wants to achieve a deeper understanding of woodblock carving is welcome to apply.

Upon completing the application and being accepted, artists will have a minimum of two months prior to the event to carve their design into a piece of plywood.  We've assembled the most invaluable technical observations, made by both BIG INK's directors and the artists we've worked with in the past, into how-to videos that guide participants through the carving process.  The artists' sole responsibility will be to bring a fully carved and ready to print woodblock on their assigned printing day.  All consumable materials including paper, ink, cleaning supplies and equipment usage are included with participation. 

The event itself will be an excellent way to network with other participants, plug into our growing creative community, and produce high-quality work that can be used later for sale and exhibition purposes.

About BIG INK:

BIG INK's mission is to inspire a greater public appreciation for large-scale woodblock printmaking and extend its practice.  Founded in 2012, BIG INK was originally the brainchild of Lyell Castonguay and Carand Burnet.  Castonguay, whose personal woodblock work is often monumental in scale, was seeking to organize a community of large-scale woodblock artists.  Castonguay and Burnet began to host a series of informal get togethers at print studios around their local area.  These happenings gradually became more formal and eventually evolved into the collaborative working model BIG INK utilizes today.  BIG INK works by establishing a temporary print shop on site at affiliate organizations, most often at museums, universities, art centers, studios, and galleries. Artists are selected, either by personal invitation or through a call-for-entry process, to attend these events and print original woodblocks at least 24” x 36” in dimension. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of artists have participated in BIG INK events across the country.

About Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts:

Dedicated to Art for All, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is the community’s arts center, providing lifelong, accessible  engagement in the arts.  Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is Maryland’s leading arts campus, actively engaging the community in innovative, creative endeavors in arts education and the performing and visual arts.  Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts was founded in 1979 by a group of artistic visionaries who believed the former Annapolis High School could best be re-used as a community arts center.  Today, our historic landmark building is the community's gathering place for the arts.  Through year-round classes, performances, exhibits, tours, workshops and demonstrations people of all ages discover the transformative power of the arts.  Each day, Maryland Hall nurtures inspiration, cultivates originality and fosters the imaginations of the children, families, students and adults who come through our doors.

Participant Benefits:

Events are a constructive way to collaborate with the BIG INK team in a creatively inspiring space while gaining an in-depth knowledge of how to create a large-scale woodblock print. The program is designed for printmakers who understand basic woodblock principles but want to expand their expertise and working scale. The program is also designed for those not yet trained in woodblock but whose visual aesthetic would lend itself to the medium. This includes illustrators, sculptors, designers, and painters who use bold contrast, strong outlines, and patterning. Participating in an event often inspires artists to incorporate more print work in their studio practice.

BIG INK's role is to make the production of a large-scale woodblock accessible and easy to understand. We hope to make the experience rewarding and informative by imparting our knowledge of preferred materials and techniques. We do so through a PDF materials guide and series of step-by-step videos that walk participants through the carving process. BIG INK remains in contact with each participant providing guidance and technical support when needed. At the conclusion of the event BIG INK photographs each participant's finished woodblock print. We add this digital image to the online archive. These images are later used to help curate BIG INK themed exhibits at national and international art venues.

How Many Prints Are Produced?

BIG INK assists in the creation of three impressions from each participant's woodblock.  Although BIG INK events typically happen in a community setting we pride ourselves on producing high-quality impressions.  Work is printed using oil-based inks on archival paper and the quality is comparable to what you would receive working with a master printer at a private studio.

What happens to the prints produced at the event?

In order for us to photograph your work and use it for curatorial projects, we request ownership of one print for our archive.  At some point, we hope to donate these works to a museum.  Currently, the archive consists of over 150 prints and growing.  The artist keeps the other two prints produced at the event.

What do I submit with my image proposal?

We ask for basic contact info, a short artist statement/bio, anticipated dimensions of your woodblock and most importantly a JPEG or JPG that represents what you intend to carve.  You are welcome to submit an existing image from your portfolio or an entirely new image.  For best results, upload your image in black & white as a JPG via the application on our apply page.  Please note your proposal image doesn't have to be completed on a large scale.  It's primarily to give a sense of what you'd like to carve as a woodblock.  This can be drafted in your preferred medium.  We've found that sharpie, pen & ink, and dark pencil gives us the clearest impression of your concept when jurying.  When creating your concept image try to keep everything black & white and avoid the use of gray tones if possible.  Please refer to this Flickr album of past accepted proposals for inspiration and reference when drafting your design.  Images must be solely created by the applicant.

What material should I use to carve my woodblock?

Artists are responsible for securing their own 1/2” thick birch ply, 1/2" cherry ply, 1/2" MDF or 3/8" Shina.  The plywood or MDF must be 1/2” thick, the Shina must be 3/8".

How big can I work?

Images must be at least 24” x 36” in dimension but not larger than 40” x 96” in dimension.


It is free to submit a proposal; accepted artists pay $300 dollars to participate.  This covers all consumable materials for the event including printing ink, paper, cleaning supplies, equipment usage and photography of the finished work.  All that is required of the artist is to bring a fully carved block.  Unfortunately, we are unable to offer scholarships at this time.

Other Commonly Asked Questions:

Q: Can two artists collaborate on a proposal?   A: Yes, list both names on the application.

Q: Can I submit an existing image with my proposal?  A: Yes

Q: If accepted can I change my proposal image after the fact?  A: Yes, as long as it falls within the same aesthetic.

Q: Does my proposal image have to be a certain size?  A: Your proposal image can be small.  It doesn't have to be the same size as your woodblock.

Q: Are we expected to attend both printing days?  A: No, but you’re welcome to attend.

Q: How many prints does each artist produce?  A: Three, one of which is archived in the BIG INK portfolio

Q: Can I bring my own paper and print more?  A: Because we work with many artists at one time we standardize for time's sake.  Therefore there isn't enough time to print more than three impressions of your woodblock at the event.

Q: What type of paper do we use?  A: Masa

Q: What type of ink do we use?  A: Oil-based relief ink, bring an apron and wear work clothes.

Q: Do I have to bring any other materials besides my carved block?  A: No

Q: Can we print in color?  A: Because we work with many artists at one time we standardize for time's sake.  Therefore there isn't enough time and space for color printing.

Q: How do we transport the finished prints?  A: BIG INK provides newsprint to wrap the work.

Q: Do you have recommendations on where to stay?  A: We use Airbnb most frequently and quality hotels are usually located a short drive away or within walking distance.

Q: What is the best way to transport the finished block if I'm flying?  A: You may be able to ship your block directly to the venue.  Contact us directly to confirm. When shipping your block please include a return label in the package. This makes shipping your block back home simple.

Q: Can I create an edition of prints in my own time from the same woodblock after the event?  A: Yes

Q: Can BIG INK create an edition of prints for me after the event?  A: Yes, for a fee.

Q: Can I cut the block in half to facilitate transport to and from the venue?  A: Yes, we recommend it for images over 6' in length. We will simply abut the pieces together on the press during printing.

Artist Testimonials:

"Being a professional sculptor, carving a woodcut was something that appealed to my sensibilities but was also something I'd never done.  BIG INK's step by step videos was helpful in guiding me through the process. BIG INK answered my technical questions quickly and gave me feedback on my image when I emailed photos.  I'm now taking what I learned as a BIG INK participant and integrating it back into my 3-D work." Kerry O. Furlani

"BIG INK encouraged all the participants to work together to execute their prints. The event inspired me to continue exploring scale and surface in my practice and opened up a new channel of communication with a great group of artists."  Enrique Figueredo

Deadline to submit a proposal: Midnight, Jan 21, 2019

Event Location: Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St, Annapolis, MD 21401

Event Date(s): March 30 & 31, 2019

Event Time: 10 am - 5 pm

Public Time: 11 am - 4 pm

Link to Submit:

Fee Detail: 
Free to apply; $300 if accepted
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