Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Dream Job....

Back in the early 80's I had a dream job and I got it because my son didn't!! My son and I were both looking for different jobs at the same time. He had an interview one afternoon and came back and told me about it and said he didn't think he got the job. The next day I was reading through the classifieds and found one that jumped off the page at me! An artist was looking for someone to work in his studio!! I immediately set up an interview and went off with my fingers crossed. I was interviewed by two young women who worked at the studio....the artist was letting them do the interviews since they would be working with the new person. Right away I thought "I like this guy!"

I hit it off with the two gals and the artist and I got the job only to learn that it was the very same one my son had applied for earlier!! But he was ok with it because he didn't think it was right for him. I loved it from the first day! The artist was Joe Culpepper. I copied this from the internet:

Joseph Culpepper. Internationally known artist in the mediums of etchings, oil and printmaking. He has exhibited in hundreds of galleries, and is in corporate and private collections throughout the world. A number of his prints have CULPEPPER boldly printed on them, and many were published under the name Images West. He can be contacted at Culpepper Fine Art, 7200 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Ste. 392, Albuquerque, NM 87124, Phone: (505) 896-4317,

Here's a photo of Joe at an art show....


The job involved inking his metal engraving plates and then printing them. When I first started they gave me brown ink and I had to learn how much to apply, how much to rub off to get shading, and how much to leave on to get the correct depth of color. It was something learned over time. I think I spent about a week with that brown ink!! Then I began actually making prints and that meant I had to learn to mix the inks to the exact color of the original. After awhile it got to be easier because each of us was responsible for certain prints. That meant we got to work on several plates over and over and over so it became a bit more routine. We had to lay down the plate....some of them were fairly heavy because Joe worked large....put the ink on in the correct areas and then wipe it off until we got the desired effect. We used newsprint to wipe off the ink and the floor would just be covered in inky paper when we were finished with a plate. Then we carried the plate to the huge printer, laid it down, placed the paper over it along with a heavy blanket and rolled it through. And each print was done one at a time.

We were paid by the piece and Joe gave each of us a key to the studio and we could set our own hours!! If I wanted to come in at 5 AM and work, it was ok or if I wanted to come in at 5 PM it was ok....just keep track of the prints that were made and be sure to keep the stock filled. Sometimes it was easier to get a lot done if I was there alone because then I didn't have to share the printer. But most of the time it was nice to be there with the other girls.

Many times the three of us would show up for work and just decide we'd like to go have margaritas for lunch and that would be the end of our day! But when we worked, we worked steady. We got along even though they were younger than I was. We laughed, played the radio at full blast, nibbled snacks, and just had a good time working.

After awhile Joe was experimenting with heavy cardboard pieces that had to be inked individually and laid out on the printer bed in a certain pattern....kinda like doing a jigsaw puzzle only the pieces didn't interlock or even touch. He was trying this process under the name of Garland. Here's a photo showing some of this work.

The bottom prints were ones I worked on. Everything that shows white is just the paper....the other parts were the individual pieces, some quite small, that were inked and fit to the pattern.

The whole etching/print process was interesting for me. It was a messy job and we were constant customers of the thrift stores in the area! We would buy pants and a shirt and wear them for a few days and then throw them out because they would be covered in ink and then we'd buy more.

Our hands were always covered in inks and we had fun sometimes placing our handprints on various parts of our clothing!! All in all, it was one of the best jobs I ever had. The only reason any of us left was because Joe began to have some personal problems that overflowed into his work.

I often think about that job and how much I loved it. Perfect hours, good pay, and friends to work with....what more could I want?!