Lower East Side Printshop, founded in 1968, is a premier not-for-profit printmaking studio in New York City that helps contemporary artists create new artwork and advance their careers.
Through the Printshop’s workspace residency programs, artists receive space and time to work, stipends, technical assistance, career development, and public exposure. With its exhibitions, education, and other public programs, the Printshop serves as a junction for artists, collectors, museums, galleries, and educational institutions to access and engage in contemporary art.
Says Kiki Smith: “For me as an artist, I’m not interested in having a studio. I don’t want a studio; I think the idea of individual people owning lots of equipment for making sculpture is really anachronistic. I much prefer the models of the print world or the glass world: collective shops where you own equipment together or somebody owns it all and you can rent. For myself, I would like short-term rental of the studio.”
Lower East Side Printshop, founded in 1968, is a premier New York City printmaking studio supporting contemporary artists of all career and artistic backgrounds in creation of new work. Support includes facilities, time, financial, and technical assistance. Services include residencies—independent and collaborative—exhibitions, education in printmaking and career advancement skills, and peer-to-peer support.
The Printshop was founded by artist and educator Eleanor Magid in 1968 as an open access art and community center. It soon became part of the alternative spaces movement of the 1970s, and it continues to be a major resource for artists, with its groundbreaking 24-hour studio use, open access policy, and other services.
In the words of the founder, Eleanor Magid: “It was born of a crisis: The New York City Teachers’ Strike of 1968. […] I was a parent among parents trying our best to make up for the closing and teacher-picketing of the local school. The issues were not simple. More to tell. Printmaking. Why printmaking? Easy answer: Because there was a press at my house. Not much of a press. A small but heavy iron table thing with “ade in England” stamped into its side. We bound books, numbered pages, wrote stories, illustrated them with both drawings and prints – reshuffling the school curriculum. We made relief prints mainly, at first, linoleum cuts. People brought linoleum from abandoned rolls or loosened bits from kitchen floors. We found rolls of paper here and there. A local ink company (in the Puck Building no less: take note) gave us cans of drying ink. We had a few old rollers. We learned to use sharp knives pointed away from our own hands and fingers and away from other people. We ranged in age from 5 to maybe 70 or more. We worked together and taught one another. Oh we were dangerous! We were PRESS!”
In spring 2005, the Printshop moved from the East Village to a five times larger facility in Midtown Manhattan. It also expanded its programming to offer more opportunities to artists and superb services. It is now the largest openly accessible printmaking facility in New York City, and a major contemporary art center, serving a diverse local, national, and international audience.
In 2006, the Printshop was awarded the Primary Organization status by the NY State Council on the Arts. This status is reserved for organizations that are, by the quality of their services and their stature, particularly vital to the cultural life of the state.
In 2014, Editions/Artists’ Books (E/AB) Fair became a program of the Printshop. It is presented annually during the New York Print Week in November. The most recent fair featured 50 international publishers and dealers.
In 2022, the Printshop became a member of International Fine Print Dealers Association.
Many established artists have worked at the Printshop, often in the earlier stages of their careers, including Kiki Smith, Paul Chan, Glenn Ligon, Nancy Spero and Leon Golub, Philip Taaffe, Robert Longo, Barbara Kruger, Juan Sanchez, and Tomie Arai, and groups such as Colab, Group Material, PAD/D, Anti Utopia, and Bullet Space, among many others.
The Printshop has recently collaborated with artists such as Derrick Adams, Mark Bradford, Sebastiaan Bremer, Arturo Herrera, Ryan McGinness, Matthew Day Jackson, Chris Martin, Carrie Moyer, Sheila Pepe, Enoc Perez, Dread Scott, Kate Shepherd, Jean Shin, James Siena, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Janaina Tschäpe, Kara Walker, and Hank Willis Thomas.
Artworks produced at the Printshop are included in permanent collections of major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Public Library, Museum of Art and Design, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, RI, Corcoran Museum of Art, DC, Colby Museum, ME, Baltimore Museum of Art, DE, and the Walker Art Center, MN.
The Printshop houses an archive collection of thousands of artworks created in its studios since the early 1970’s.
Artist Residency Programs
At the core of the Printshop’s services to artists is the Artist Residency Programs, offering studio space and materials for artists of all backgrounds and at all career stages. The programs include financial and technical assistance, exhibition and educational opportunities, and a supportive professional environment.
The program serves more than 140 artists each year, on both open access and competitive basis, regardless of the level of their printmaking skills. It includes Keyholder, Publishing (both free and competitive), Studio Rental and Contract Printing residencies (open to all at nominal rates). For the participating artists, the Printshop is a lab where they can explore, experiment, and collaborate, in order to create new work. The Printshop is an anchor throughout their careers, providing a place to work, find advice, introductions, references, and continued exposure through newsletters, website, and periodic exhibitions.
Exhibitions, classes, career development workshops, lectures, and artist talks offer opportunities to study and explore printmaking and contemporary art in depth, and hands-on. Students, artists, collectors, and the general public engage in printmaking, many of them for the first time, through the Printshop’s opportunities. Other educational opportunities include internships for young professionals and career development opportunities for artists.
The Printshop is an active participant in the field of contemporary art, taking part in major fairs, conferences, and exhibitions. In 2014, the Printshop became owner and organizer of the annual E/AB Fair in order to foster and promote its community of small independent publishers, and offer its artists a greater exposure platform.