STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK
Kevin and Gwen Fitzpatrick show off Mad Max
When Kevin Fitzpatrick was asked to come up with a design for an urban farm program, he responded with a stunning graphic that capsulized everything the program was about.
It featured a bee sporting a house and the city skyline on its back alongside rows of lettuce greens that made up the bee’s body. Its legs resembled hoses with water streaming out of them.
Kevin then printed T-shirts featuring the design on “Mad Max,” his eight-armed micro-adjustable screen printer.
“The beautiful thing about screen printing is that no two are ever alike,” he said.
Kevin has created dozens of snazzy art pieces featuring local landmarks since moving to Hailey three years ago.
Among them: A picture of the Bow Bridge in front of a big blazing sun and mountains. A flashy graphic of a cowboy fly-fisherman lassoing a giant trout with his fly. A snowboarder sailing across Bald Mountain. A map of Idaho comprised of waterfalls, pint trees and mountains. And an arrow with mountains comprising the arrowhead and shaft of an arrow.
Kevin Fitzpatrick’s Bow Bridge design
Kevin will serve up his artwork on T-shirts, bags, baby outfits, yoga pants and greeting cards during the Papoose Club’s holiday bazaar being held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today—Saturday, Dec. 5—and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum.
“It’s a good way to introduce ourselves to the valley,” said Kevin.
Kevin got a degree in multi-media web design at the Herron School of Art in Indiana before heading to Portland where he made his mark with public art murals. In one case, a radio station commissioned him to outline a piece of art and have the public paint it.
“A hundred people touched the wall. They were showing one another what to do. And, when it was finished, they owned a piece of it,” Kevin said.
Kevin was introduced to the Wood River Valley by the band Finn Riggins for which he toured with while drumming for Jared Mees and the Grown Children out of Portland, OR. Since moving to Idaho, he has served as the web designer for Boise’s Treefort Music Fest. And he has applied his graffiti-type art to his newfound love of screen printing, designing T-shirts and posters for Hailey’s Skate Park competition, Power House Pub and Bike Shop and the Northern Rockies Music Festival.
He and his wife Gwen Fitzpatrick established Due West Press LLC screen printing studio in Hailey’s industrial park in July, using an online crowd-funding campaign to help purchase professional screen printing equipment.
The couple do everything by hand from the moment Kevin begins drawing a sketch to the time Gwen pull a T-shirt off Mad Max.
Kevin scans his sketch into a computer, producing the image on a transparent overlay. Gwen then coats a screen with emulsion—a light sensitive material a little less thick than yogurt—in a dark room. Once dry, she places the overlay over the screen and uses a light to expose it for several minutes . The couple then hose down the screen. This washes away emulsion that was not exposed to light, leaving a negative stencil of the image on the mesh.
The Fitzpatricks glue the mesh fabric to a frame, lining each up to as close to perfect as possible. Using a separate screen for each color of ink being printed, they use a squeegee to push the ink through it.
Kevin printed 350 T-shirts for the Northern Rockies Music Festival.
“People think—screen printing—how fun! Rolling something over ink. But there’s much more to it,” he said.
While they do their screen printing in isolation, they are all about people being involved in art, said Kevin.
Every Friday afternoon they invite students from the nearby Syringa Mountain School into their studio to do art on brown paper stretched across the work table.
Kevin shows the students such things as how to create the illusion of depth and how to shade and draw shadows, using ideas from Mark Kistler who has taught millions how to draw via his PBS TV series.
“I show them how to add extra things to bring something to life,” he said. “For instance, if you’re drawing a person who got a war medal, maybe you want to add glasses and long shoes with loopy shoelaces. That gives them personality.
“Come spring, I hope to take them outdoors where we can draw birds and other things in nature.”
Kevin Fitzpatrick created this Farm My Yard design for a Portland, Ore., program that encourages homeowners to offer their yard for urban farmers to garden in exchange for some of the veggies they grow.
Kevin and Gwen are also mentoring Dylan Porth as part of Silver Creek High School’s Big Picture Learning program, which sets students in a career-oriented learning environment.
“She’s fantastic,” Kevin said. “She’s getting school credit applying what she learns here. She does her own art and we teach her about things like taxes and chemistry. Did you know, for instance, that the color white has its own behavior? Or that cotton and wool behave differently with ink than polyester?”
Cameron Ellis, who spent one recent afternoon at the Fitzpatrick’s studio doing art with his son Wyatt, applauded the couple’s vision:
“The focus in this valley is on outside activities. So, it’s neat having them offer kids a way to express themselves through indoor activities.”