The Modern Muse of Fine Art and a collab with Suspicious Package Print House!

Muse of Fine Arts silkscreen posters Suzanne Forbes x Suspicious Package Dec 2017Wow, look at these cool screen prints!

ESDIP Berlin, where I teach drawing, has an in-house print studio. It’s run by Suspicious Package, who teach printing to our Fine Arts students and give standalone screen printing courses. Screen printing, a beautiful way to make unique printed images, is really popular here in Berlin. The work being done is gorgeous. The poster print show called Flatstock has a big European event in Hamburg.

Rob Hanna of Suspicious Package asked if I’d be interested in doing an art collab with them for our Fall Fine Arts semester.

Study for Muse of Fine Arts by Suzanne Forbes Nov 2017 1I said sure! We talked about the idea of a “Modern-Mucha” style image, with elements that represented the different Fine Arts disciplines we teach. But punk as fuck, like Berlin itself.

I honestly hate most of those saccharine “Mucha-esque” designs on deviant-art that turn pop culture icons into Mucha posters. They almost* universally lack the shocking fleshy immediacy of Mucha’s women, which was his great strength and their source of power.

Almost nobody today has the draughtsmanship skills to give women’s bodies the physical presence and grace Mucha did. I certainly don’t.

But I did the best I could to capture the confrontational nature of my favorite Muchas, their determined physicality and returning of the artist’s gaze.

Study for Muse of Fine Arts by Suzanne Forbes Nov 2017 3I came up with these studies for the artwork. I wanted to convey the feel of Berlin’s art scene, still pretty gritty and rough around the edges.

The art scene here embraces urban art like nowhere else I’ve ever lived, with support (and specialty supply shops!) for graffiti artists and stencil artists.

So I included some classic Krylon cans, and of course the cinder blocks and broken glass and empty bottles that are still common in lots of places.

Plus take-out noodles! I wish those had made it into the final.Study for Muse of Fine Arts by Suzanne Forbes Nov 2017 2

I love to draw a punk girl! I decided she would be a Modern Muse Of Fine Arts.

Mucha did a series called The Arts, with a representation each for Dance, Poetry, Painting and Music. They were sold as a limited edition of prints, because he produced work across a spectrum of availability: unique paintings, work created for fine art prints and works made for commercial reproduction.

These famous exhibition posters were made for the Salon des Cents, a huge public print show and sale.

Mucha was a master of design, but the humanity and specific natural beauty of his models was the power behind the arabesques.

This less well known exhibition poster, sometimes called “Muse of the Arts”, has been one of my favorites since I was a teenager. I love the rack of prints!

I think of it whenever I go to an art event like Berlin Graphic Days at Urban Spree and see posters in the same kinds of racks, over a hundred years later.

There’s a beautiful through line from early 20th Century art print culture to modern East Berlin screen printing shops where artists are pulling unique pieces by hand.

I sent my finished drawing to Rob Hanna, who did the graphic design and created the text elements to turn it into a poster.

Then the students made it into prints! It was the first time printing for all of them and I am so excited at what they made. I framed one!

Suzanne Forbes x Suspicious Package ESDIP Berlin FIne Arts poster Dec 2017Follow Suspicious Package and other amazing print shops Brookesia Studio and Noise Armada Design on Instagram.

*The one exception to my “Modern Mucha” hate: superb Game of Thrones posters by a woman artist, Elin Jonnson. Fucking crushed I didn’t order a set of these before she got the C&D.

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