Guest blog post by Paloma Mayorga

With aspects of our lives back to some level of normalcy, many of us have returned to the demanding lifestyles that rarely allow us to stop and smell the roses, or perhaps simply appreciate the flower patterns that adorn our furniture and other household objects that inhabit our space. The latter is fortunately untrue for the Ontario-born and now South Carolina-based printmaker, Myles Calvert. Having previously exhibited Toaster (Tiffany Blue) in PrintAustin’s The Contemporary Print in 2018, Calvert was recently selected as one of PrintAustin’s 5×5 artists.

Myles Calvert, Subtle Was Rarely An Option, 2021, lithograph, 15″ x 22″

Calvert’s works are occupied by carefully rendered objects, such as bullion fringe ottomans, Blue Mountain Pottery vessels, and Smeg toasters—objects that despite their unambiguous household names, meet very specific criteria that allow for a shared notion of comfort when looking at them, yet questions adornment and opulence in design. These self-imposed rules are ones that Calvert employs on all objects featured in his work and are as follows: 

  1. The object must be mundane.
  2. The object must be universally recognizable.
  3. The object must serve a utilitarian purpose.
Myles Calvert, Vessel 2 (Webby Boy), 2022, copper plate etching, chine-collé on Arches Aquarelle, 22″ x 15″

The artist’s fascination with objects was largely inspired by his time working in retail stores in the UK while completing his Master’s degree at Camberwell College at the University for the Arts in London. The meticulous displays that elevated designer consumer goods into objects of desire inside of stores like Selfridges, enchanted Calvert. Quality, design, and color theory captivated the artist’s trained eye, and now fuel the content and composition of his current work in printmaking. 

Myles Calvert, That Darn Healthy Glow, 2021, lithograph, 28″ x 22″

Calvert experiments with color, saturation, and transparency, often combining traditional printing techniques, such as etching, lithography, screenprinting, and woodcuts, with industrial processes like sublimation. His matrices serve as modules that allow him to stack, shuffle, and repeat the objects on the same piece of paper to investigate why certain compositions are more alluring than others. He uses bitmap effects of digitally processed halftone to translate handcrafted textile textures, and pushes the physical limits of paper by loading it with ink gradients, and sometimes even puff paint, to raise elements of the work into our three-dimensional world.

Myles Calvert, Vessel 3 (BMP), 2022, photopolymer etching on Arches Aquarelle, 22″ x 15″

”The fusion of tradition and technology has always been an interest, and vital to the way I approach printmaking,” Calvert writes in his article “So Saturated, It Hurts” in The California Printmaker’s 2021 issue, where he dissects the evolution of industrial mediums, which were originally created for practical purposes, into the realm of fine art. 

Calvert’s unconventional use of these various techniques yield works that are both beautiful and complicated to look at. His personal obsession with experimentation to achieve an irresistible image further illustrates ideas of opulence and the Romanticism of everyday objects and adds an intriguing layer to his work.

Myles Calvert, Vessel I (Hairy Boy), 2022, copper plate etching and chine-collé on Arches Aquarelle, 22″ x 15″

Dive deeper into the specific techniques that inspire Calvert, some of his past projects that garnered the attention of the BBC, and his process for sourcing images in his recent interview with Jamal Barber for Studio Noize Podcast

To view more of Myles Calvert’s work, visit squirrelpigeonfish.com.

About the Exhibition

PrintAustin’s 5X5 is one of the organization’s annual juried shows presented during the month-long PrintAustin festival. 

Started in 2021 as an online exhibit, five artists are selected based on a cohesive body of work made up of five print-based works. In 2023, PrintAustin added a new dynamic to the open call and had two jurors pulling from identical submissions, creating two separate exhibitions–one hosted by Link&Pin during PrintAustin, and the other to be presented at form & concept during the inaugural sister festival, Print Santa Fe  in April 2023.

This year’s 5×5 exhibition in Austin was juried by Holly Borham, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and European Art at the Blanton Museum of Art, and curated by Annalise Gratovich, Texas printmaker and PrintAustin Board of Director Member.

PrintAustin partners with Miranda Metcalf and Reinaldo Zambrano of Hello, Print Friend and Jamal Barber of Studio Noize Podcast to conduct interviews with each of the selected artists to dive deeper into their artistic practice and inspiration behind their works.

If you enjoy the PrintAustin blog or any of the podcast interviews, please consider making a donation to PrintAustin and help continue our artist-led efforts to share our love of printmaking!

You can view the 2023 5×5 Catalog here or purchase a copy by emailing info@printaustin.org.

Featured Image: Installation view of Myles Calvert’s work at Link&Pin for PrintAustin’s 2023 5×5 exhibition. Photo by Scott David Gordon.