Tag Archives: medusa

‘Medusa’ by Neil Stavely

‘Medusa’ by Neil Stavely

As soon as I came across this lino print, I knew I had to make it mine, as it mixes two of my favourite things; my love of retro tattoo art and the curiosity I have about the mythology of Medusa. Along with his wife/partner-in-crime Kerry, the Stavely’s create art that draws inspiration from all over the place- tarot cards, animals and even Richard Scarry.

Name: My wife Kerry and I are partners in a small business called the Horse & Hare. The name is derived from our Chinese Zodiac. I am a Hare and Kerry is a Horse.
Location: We live and work in Winchester, Virginia. Winchester is located in Northern Virginia about an hour west of Washington D.C.
Weapon of choice (medium in which you create!) and why?
 
Most of my output in the past few years have been linoleum block prints (linocuts). I think I’ve gravitated towards block printing in part because of the reductive nature of the medium. I have a tendency to overwork things so working on block prints force me to finish a project or else all the material will be carved away and I will be left with nothing.  I also do mixed media painting (often incorporating linocut elements).  I’m also trying to transition into woodcut printmaking and I work full time as a tattooer.
 
Tell me about Horse & Hare, what is it that you do?
 
My primary role in the Horse & Hare partnership is creating the majority of the linocuts and doing most of the actual printing. Kerry does her share of printing and carving as well but she tends to push the marketing and business side of things.
 
The subject of your artwork appears to come from all over the place; animals, authors, ancient mythology, children books. What does inspire your artwork? When you stumble across something, what makes you want to turn it into art?
 
Some of the first serious prints I made were based on images from the Tarot deck. I was attracted to the Tarot because of the fantastic and archetypal imagery and also because it references back to the early days of printmaking. Card decks, including the Tarot, were among the first materials produced with early printing technologies. From there, I just started working on anything which strikes my fancy. Some projects have originated as commissions but generally I just make things that seem like they would be fun to carve. Often I gravitate towards images that have a bit of a literary feel such as the author series or the latin name pieces which have a pseudo-scientific aesthetic which you could almost imagine stumbling across in an eccentric textbook.
 
What was the inspiration behind the ‘Medusa’ print?
 

The origins of the Medusa print actually arise out of teaching a lesson on ancient greek pottery at my daughter’s school. In preparing for the lesson I rediscovered the Medusa mythology and of course found it fascinating.

 
What are the details of ‘Medusa’ (ink, paper used etc.)
 
The Medusa is a small linocut print (probably the first in a series of images based on greek myths) printed in water based block printing ink on cardstock paper.
 
As a tattoo artist, what do you think when you see your artwork on someone’s body?
 
I view tattooing as a craft. Unlike a painting or printmaking project the point of origin for a tattoo comes from the customer and my ultimate job is to please them, more-so than myself. Of course my own aesthetics come in to play and I want it to look good, but it’s a different process than creating something  to satisfy my own needs and curiosities. That said, when I see a client and they love their tattoo it’s a feeling of satisfaction and of a job well done.
 
 
What has been the most challenging design you’ve had to create for a client? 
 
I started getting my feet wet in the tattoo business about 14 years ago and it’s hard to pick out a particular piece I would consider the most challenging. Any time you have to step out of your comfort zone can be challenging. I always think some of the simplest designs can be the most nerve wracking. The slightest imperfection in a circle with a straight line through it will show up like a sore thumb.                      Who are your artistic idols?
 
There are so many… Gregory Gillespi, Albrecht Durer, Max Beckmann, Ivan Allbright, Tony Fitzpatrick, Lucas Cranach, Phillip Guston,  just to name a few. Much of my favorite work was done by anonymous craftspeople. I love old buddhist paintings, illuminated manuscripts, gothic cathedrals and woodcuts from the early days of printing.Do you have a favourite piece of work,? Something you are particularly proud of?
 
There are a handful of pieces I’ve done over the years that I think are Good with a capital ‘G’. I tend to reserve judgement on my work for a year or two. When something is new I feel like it’s hard to be objective about it. Either I’m so excited about it that I think it’s better than it really is or I’m so frustrated that it hasn’t lived up to unrealistic expectations that I hate it. It generally takes a lengthy cooling off period before I can see a piece for what it is.Are you working on anything special currently? 
 
Recently, I’ve been messing around  with carving wood blocks for woodcut printing, unfortunately  I may have to give it up because that, in combination with tattooing seems to be destroying my wrist. I’ve just started a circus seal linocut I’m excited about. I’m also working on a linocut on the subject of tattoo machine frames and a handful of paintings.
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