From the 8th to the 19th of November Vilnius Academy of Arts (VAA) Vilnius Faculty students of Graphic Art took part in a creative workshop, titled "Fusion, New Directions in Lithography", led by a renowned artist Otis Tamasauskas from Canada.  

The workshop started with an open lecture called "Narrative Impulse of Newfoundland Landscape" by Otis Tamasauskas. It was open to all students and anyone interested in raphic arts. The artist presented his work, thoughts, methods and main inspirations while traveling and working in the wilderness of Newfoundland. Otis talked about his research, making field notes and printmaking. It was inspiring to learn about how with the help of a portable press, the artist printed in open spaces – right there in locales that inspired those prints. The trip resulted in a series of impressive large format mix-media prints, in which the artist tackled the complex history of the country and its inhabitants. All the showcased prints were flown by the artist to Lithuania. It was a unique experience to view the complex works live, which were created by layering dozens of color layers, especially considering that they were printed from stone.

The artist's personal exhibition "Baltica", which opened on December 4 in the VAA art gallery "5 malūnai", has also left a big impression. There's no better way to get to know an artist than through his work. It is important to mention that all the graphic works installed in the exhibition were especially created for this visit and all were donated to the Academy.

During the workshop, Otis highlighted the importance of environmentally friendly materials in the use of graphic prints and encouraged the choice of non-toxic, more sustainable alternatives to evaporative turpentine. Attendees were also taught how to create a wide variety of stone and dry lithographs, which are printed using aluminum plates. Tamasauskas, known for his fusion of different graphic techniques - as he said himself, “artistic rock and roll” - encouraged students not to be afraid to experiment, mix and max different printing methods, and to liberate themselves in their creative work. When faced with challenges or setbacks, Otis encouraged not to lose heart, instead to try printing on top of the previous prints or ripping out interesting parts of a print and collaging – all different ways of exploring and elevating the work, taking it into unexpected directions. After all, Otis said: "If you're not having fun – you're not printing".

The workshop ran for 10 days in the Graphic Art lab on weekdays, eight hours per day! It was designed for students to have fun and to print without reservation striving for unexpected results, and at the same time, everyone was introduced to new lithography techniques. Otis also talked about the North American graphic arts culture and spoke about the importance of print shop manners in graphics studies and print work, urging participants to work in teams, learn from each other and not be afraid to challenge themselves. The knowledge and skills, muscle memory, not to mention problem solving on the spot, were invaluable to observe.

The almost two-week long creative workshop was crowned by an exhibition of the students' works. We encourage everyone to visit it! (VAA New Bulding, 3rd floor). Even as the workshop was coming to a close, Otis was still sharing insights and advice until the last moment of his stay at the academy.

I'm thankful for the invaluable experience of studying and working with such a printing master and bright person as Otis Tamasauskas.

The experiences and impressions above have been shared by the VAA Graphic Art BA 1st year student Kornelijus Pelkys

The visit was funded by the Education Exchanges Support Foundation (ŠMPF) under the programme “Funding the Visits of Lecturers from Foreign Countries in 2021“.