Chris Estrada, pronouns He/Him, is a printmaker based in Long Beach, California. He holds a BFA in Printmaking from CSULB, and works as a production artist and educator. He operates Farewell Transmission Prints, specializing in screenprinted artist zines. His work is process heavy, typically comprised of photographic imagery, text, and found objects.

What generally interests you in printmaking and what kind of printmaking do you do?

What I find most interesting about printmaking pertains to the idea of the multiple and the ability to make artwork that is less precious (not less important) and more affordable. This feels like a great equalizer and helps promote the idea that art is for everyone. It’s also allowed me to explore collaborations with artists I admire in ways that would feel far less achievable working in other mediums. The ability to bring a dozen artists that you love together in one screenprinted zine, and expose the world to work that you personally find beautiful and important is such a powerful feeling. 99% of my work involves screenprinting, but I do still occasionally get the bug to carve a block or etch a plate, and I’d love to take a refresher course in the magical world of stone lithography.

What ideas or themes are prevalent in your work?

I owe a great deal of my interest in art and becoming an artist to punk music, specifically album and flyer artwork, and I think that has a great deal of influence on the work that I create, stylistically. In this world, there’s a sort of nauseating frenzy, like a train that’s about to run off the rails, that’s always appealed to me and that I try to sneak into everything that I do. Because my body of work is, at the best of times, erratic, I think it’s important to know the influences behind it.

Have you always pursued a career in printmaking?

No, definitely not. I knew that I would always be creating art, and that printmaking allowed me the tools to explore and to express myself in ways I’d never known before, but I never really thought I could make a career out of it. I’m thankful that I work in the art world as my day job, that it pays my bills and also allows me to invest in my own practice, while also being privileged enough to avoid commission/client based work or to be influenced to make work that has to make money, and because I screenprint nearly every single day for work, I also get to sharpen my skills in that regard.

Do you remember the first print you made?

I do, though this question has two answers. The very first screenprint I ever made was a t-shirt for a punk band I was playing guitar in as a teenager. Instead of reading any prior directions, I jumped right into it and spent hours trying to meticulously paint screen filler on a screen for a design that would maybe take me five minutes today. It wasn’t until I went back to college in my late 20’s that I took a printmaking course, and I carved my very first linocut, a big bold coffee mug with steam clouds, totally inspired by The Velvet Underground’s Loaded album cover, billowing out.

How has your work evolved since you started?

I have been, and still can be, incredibly impatient with making art. When I first started really creating as an artist, the process was the most important aspect to me, and however the finished product looked was how it looked, end of story. A lot of printmaking, for me at least, is correcting problems as they arise and rolling with the punches, as it’s an imperfect medium. As I’ve grown, I’ve practiced pumping the brakes and taking time to think things out, instead of always charging forward and ending up with work that isn’t a fair representation of my ability or initial concept. I still make mistakes and still roll with the punches, but knowing when to take a step back and reevaluate has allowed me to really bring the image I have in my head to light.

What is your vision for the development or your work?

One aspect of making art that’s been occasionally elusive is the act of devoting a massive amount of time to exploring one theme for a cohesive body of work, which I believe is expected for any serious artist. I don’t agree with this expectation, principally, but I do like the idea of being able to focus on one theme for an extended period of time.

Any upcoming projects?

There’s always something bouncing around in my brain, so definitely. My practice allows me a few different outlets to explore, so if I’m not working on a piece for a show, there’s a good chance I’m coming up with some bootleg t-shirt ideas, or trying to finalize concepts on collaborative zines with artists I love. Jumping between and trying to expand what I can do keeps me pretty busy, thankfully.

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