Burning Bones Press Aims to Revive the Craft of Printmaking

In today's world of digital self-publishing and graphic design programs, one can create an illuminated manuscript of the Harry Potter books that looks like it was done by 16th-century monks with a lot of time on their hands and more artistic skill than fashion sense.

But local graphic artist Carlos Hernandez and master printer Patrick Masterson are looking to bring back some of the learned craftsmanship to printing -- both in their own work and with lessons to the public -- in the newly-opened Burning Bones Press, a full-service printmaking space and classroom.

"With the unbelievable variety of talented artists that reside in Houston, I hope we can offer a location where they might come and use our knowledge and resources to help develop fantastic works on paper," Masterson, who also teaches at the University of Houston and the Glassell School of Art, says.

Hernandez adds "We also want to add a since of community. A place to share ideas with other printmakers."

Presently, Burning Bones offers classes in screen printing, and plans to add ones in the art of plate and stone lithography, intaglio and a variety of other print disciplines in the near future.

As to how the business could attract customers and projects when anybody with a Best Buy credit card and a computer could churn out amazing work with the click of a mouse, Hernandez feels that the overbearing hi-techiness of today's art and design world actually works to their advantage.

"I think what you are seeing now is a reaction to computers. People want to get their hands dirty. They want to create multiple originals rooted in a hand drawing," he says. "An electronic print-out that was fleshed out on the computer just isn't the same. And it isn't the same to collectors."

And Hernandez should know. His collectible "Day of the Dead Rock Star" series imagines late musical icons from Joey Ramone, Jimi Hendrix and Joe Strummer to Johnny Cash, Bob Marley and Jim Morrison as happy dancing Mexican-style skeletons (dressed and coiffed in the subject's signature style, of course).

Hernandez has also taken to creating gig posters for local shows, including recent concerts by the Arcade Fire and Southern Culture on the Skids, which are available for sale on his website. "I create posters with bands I would want to go see live, and only if I have all permissions from the promoter, and venue, and sometimes directly from the artist."

And as Masterson and Hernandez prepare for the grand opening of Burning Bones, they're also still pretty busy with their own artistic endeavors, including a collaborative paper project with artist Trenton Doyle Hancock. Yes, that is work on real paper - and not a pixel or resolution in the description of the creative process at all.

The grand opening and studio tour of Burning Bones Press will be held June 11 from 7-10 p.m. at 1518 Yale. Call 713-412-4374 or visit for more info.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero