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Relief Printing Artist – Get to know Jared Barbick’s fantastic work

Relief Printing Artist – Get to know Jared Barbick’s fantastic work

Relief Printing Artist

Brief Description of The Process and Inception of Ideas

by Jared Barbick

As a relatively new printmaker, but not a new artist, my process always starts with finding images that are inspiring for me as a Relief Printing Artist. Inspiration does not have to be happy thoughts or cuddly pictures. My inspirations are mainly drawn from interactions people have, human rights issues (typically violations), humanity and acts that define us, animal conservationism news, animal facial expressions, and feats of the great struggle that require some element of extreme effort to overcome. My work ultimately is an extension of my imagination and my soul. What I feel, believe, and think is integral to each work. I try to construct a narrative in each image to tell a particular story or to convey a particular feeling and thought/set of thoughts. I would say my work reflects my inner landscape very closely.


As a Relief Printing Artist, I usually use MDF wood or Mahogany wood.

MDF – is rigid enough to hold crisp lines, can endure high pressure turns of the blade, and doesn’t rip like wood. Most of the time, there is no grain to fight against. I recently found grain in a piece of MDF that came during poor fabrication. This can be seen in my most recent work “Relocation of the last polar bears & escort”. This medium works well with high definition works when married with high-density inks.

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Where those are the positives, the negatives are that it is not practical to clean for reduction printing easily and breaks down with exposure to liquid in certain amounts. This creates a limitation for the medium and the body of work. If you look at the works titled “Una Nueva Vida Prohibida”, “The Seal, The Magician, and The Executioner”, “True Friends” and “Molding Monsters”, you can see tight long line work as well as great clarity on curves. On all the work, the inks used and MDF yielded nice detail for small fine tick markings.

Mahogany – is beautiful and tight grained. It holds a line well, requires attention to detail each millimeter of the cut as it will rip if you go with the grain too aggressively and it will cause skipping of the blade as you cut across as it is a hardwood and does not cut easily. The advantage of the grain is that you can use it to your advantage. In the recent work titled “Visiting Day & First Steps Together,” you can see how the selection of placement of the image made all the difference. The grains natural curves glide and twist under the feet as if flooring and disappear higher up as background.


I use Power Grip block cutting. I sharpen them with a micro-fine honing compound from iMCClains, Flexcut SlipStrop, and Swiss Made cutting tools from this great store “Woodcraft of Ventura” in Ventura. My press is a custom-made Monotype Conrad Press. I had to make my own inking table (a 40-inch-high table with a piece of tempered glass covering it). I had to buy the glass separately and have it tempered professionally and affixed it to the table using elongated metal L’shaped plates.

Artists at their best…Jared Barbick at work on one of his pieces. #arthop

Posted by M Street Arts Complex on Thursday, September 6, 2018

I had to use metal-tapping screws to connect the metal edge-plate to the table wood. I also created a modified tilting cutting station and have a flat file system and very small drying rack.

Power Grip Carving Tools, Seven Piece Set

The handle shape and short blade length of these unique carving tools make them the perfect “gap fillers” between conventional palm handled and full sized carving tools.


Cutting the Block: I do have a bit of a non-standard cut technique when it comes to high detail and long line work. Mostly, I use the “v-gouge” and “u-gouge” for almost all work on a block. I almost never use the Hangi and chisels. I always use magnification specs for working so that I can honor my lines and do not have to improvise as much in correction work. For longline work, I actually lay my head down, resting my cheek on my hand and use my whole body to move forward in one long line. This minimizes latitudinal drift of the blade during the cut.


My editions usually run 5, never more than 10. I want my work to stay collectible. I want my work to be limited, but as exact from print to print as I can. I do not force more and I do not allow for work that deviates from one another in any way where one print would not be equitable to another.

This article was written by Jared Barbick and all images copyright © jaredbarbick 2019

You can get to know him better on his website and Facebook.

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