Art, craft, tradition: the Discover Graphics Atelier celebrates 30 years

If you’ve ever visited the Discover Graphics Atelier on the second floor of the Torpedo Factory, you know that printmaking is a labor of love. True prints aren’t mere reproductions, but unique works of art handmade by artists who have painstakingly drawn, etched, or engraved a reversed image onto materials that will only survive a few pressings—guaranteeing “limited edition” artwork in the truest sense of the term.

The Discover Graphics Atelier is one of the few open print shops in the country that isn’t affiliated with a college or university. Since 1983, DGA has trained more than 2,500 students from across the United States and 23 countries while offering experienced printmakers an open, supportive, and free workspace like no other. As DGA celebrates its 30th anniversary, two local exhibitions will honor the work of this vital institution.

Through December 15, 2013, the Frame Factory in Vienna, Virginia, will host an exhibition of original, hand-pulled prints—and from December 10, 2013, through January 12, 2014, ArtSpace Herndon will host “30 Years – 30 Artists,” an exhibition of original work from current and former Discover Graphics printmakers.

Visit these shows, and come talk to the printmakers here at the Torpedo Factory, and you’ll quickly learn what distinguishes a real print from a mass-produced reproduction. Real prints are made with thicker paper, and you can actually see their distinctiveness—if you know how to look.

When you peer at a reproduction through a magnifier or loupe, you’ll see a regular dot or pixel pattern that gives away its mechanical origins. By contrast, a handmade print will reveal a random pattern, a unique “fingerprint” left by a skilled artisan who combined art, craft, and tradition to create something that’s truly one of a kind—just like Discover Graphics itself.

Explore the Discover Graphics Atelier at the Torpedo Factory in studio 202! Check out the work of their affiliated artists, and learn more about their popular classes and workshops on their website. To browse the work of all printmakers at the Torpedo Factory, click here.

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