Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave Lefner.
Dave, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
From a very early age, I always knew someday I was going to be an Artist (with a capital A). I had an innate, artistic ability, but I just wasn’t sure exactly which direction I wanted to go. In college, I experimented with all mediums; graphic design, drawing, painting, sculpture… all with fine results, but I wanted something different. I would visit every gallery and museum exhibition I could, and I often came away feeling frustrated at the art that seemed thrown together, or lack of skill, or just trying to be original for originality’s sake. For myself, I wanted something that really challenged my skills.
Luckily, in my third year, I took a beginning Printmaking class and my world changed. From my first woodcut, I knew this was something I wanted to explore.
When I discovered a book about Picasso’s series of Reduction Linocuts from the 1950s, I knew my search was over. This labor-intensive, hand-carved, skill-based, graphic medium seemed to check every box… and it seemed like such a lost art form. It became my goal to bring it to light. For the last twenty-five years, I have focused solely on my goal. I have tried to push the boundaries of this medium to new levels. Moving to the Brewery, the world’s largest artists’ community, twenty years ago, was another major step in my growth.
Having the loft space allowed me to work much larger and more detailed. Another huge benefit was the bi-annual, Brewery Artwalks, where the resident artists open their studios to the public. These events gave me an instant audience, as well as exposure. Not only did I garner new collectors, but newspaper and magazine articles, as well as connections to museums and galleries. I now have work in the permanent collection of LACMA’s (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) Prints & Drawings, and I am represented by galleries at Bergamot in Santa Monica and Laguna Beach.
Has it been a smooth road?
The life of an artist is always going to have its struggles. When you never know when your next sale is going to happen, it can put a certain amount of stress on you. But the tradeoff is that you get to do what you love doing most.
One of my biggest obstacles has been the average person’s lack of understanding about the medium of Reduction Linocut, which ironically, was the reason I got into the medium. People often mistake my work for photographs or Photoshopped images.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
As an Artist, I specialize in the lost art of Reduction Linocuts. It’s a complicated, very labor-intensive medium, where I hand-carved a single block of linoleum (yes, linoleum… very similar to good ol’ flooring linoleum!) with gouging tools to remove areas away to create an image on the block. Then I roll oil-based ink on the block, lay that in a press, put the paper down on the block and crank it through the press.
The color/image is transferred to the paper as a print. Now here comes the complicated part… “reduction” means, after I print an edition (say 10 images in that same color), I then go back to the same block to remove more areas away. I will then print again with a different color, printing exactly on top the edition of 10. And so on, continually reducing the raised area on the block until hardly anything is left. Whew! You totally get it, right?! 😉
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
So I haven’t even talked about my subject matter… basically the Urban Landscape, especially of the city of my birth, Los Angeles! In college, I was really inspired by the painter, Stuart Davis, who would abstract off the cityscapes of NYC in the 1920s & 30s.
His work made me look at my city in a whole new way. I started to see the architectural differences in each area of LA, from the mom & pop storefronts in the Valley to the historic buildings of Downtown.
I began to focus in on the signage, especially the aging neon from a time gone by. These became my muse, as I photographed them to use as inspiration for my Linocuts. As time went by, I started noticing that many of these signs began disappearing, too expensive to be repaired, or simply unwanted by new owners. Slowly, I began to realize that I was documenting the changes in this city and that it was something special and necessary.
As far as LA being good for Art… The city has always had a rich Art History, from Architecture to seminal exhibitions in the 1950s at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon), the first to feature the likes of Warhol, Ruscha, and Thiebaud. But for decades it has seemed to be in the shadow of New York. Well, that’s changin’! Los Angeles has become home to many important museums and galleries.
- The price range is generally from $1300 to $7500, the average being about $3200.
- Address: 620 Moulton Ave. #212,
Los Angeles, CA 90031
- Website: www.davelefner.com
- Phone: 323-719-8707
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: lefner_editions