Steve Mancione

Workingman's Art

I am a Chicago based artist who has always been drawn to what many traditional art critics might call "low-brow art".  Graphitti, comic books, and cartoons have always interested me most, I think because they are the most relatable to the public at large.  Making art for the .5% of the population that actually goes to "white cube" galleries doesn't seem practical to me.  Those people are all artists, art critics, or art teachers.  They already come to the work with predisposed notions of whatever theory they are currently regurgetating.  In my mind, it takes more balls to do artwork that everyone, from every class has access to.  A tag on a brick wall will be seen by more people than a framed work in a gallery.  But it's not exposure I'm after, it's opening up the vacuum sealed bubble of the art world to everyone, not just the people in the "art club".  I want people who would never walk into a gallery to be able to see my work.  Regular people without trust funds and people who have no idea what "post-modern" means.  My family, colleagues and friends are hard working individuals who will most likely never know a -shall we say - "priviledged" life. So that's who I make art for because I can actually relate to them and hopefully they can relate to me.  I guess I'll sum this up in a quote from one of my favorite childhood movies. 

"I make car parts for the American working man, because that's what I am. And that's who I care about."

                                                                    -Ray Zalinsky (Dan Akroyd)

​Blue Collar Black Sheep : The Largest Comic Book on Handmade Paper...EVER.

Here is "Blue Collar Black Sheep" being installed in the Arcade Gallery on Michigan Ave. in Chicago's Loop.

Here is "Blue Collar Black Sheep" being installed in the Arcade Gallery on Michigan Ave. in Chicago's Loop.

The Gist

ike I said before, the kind of artwork that interests me most is comics and cartoons.  So, as an artist, it seems only natural that I would create comics and graphic narratives.  And because I am a working class guy making art for other working class folks, my story is about just that.

lue Collar Black Sheep follows a young man trying to fit his love for creating art into his not-so-artsy environment.  He faces ridicule, misunderstanding, and general disappointment from his family and friends, all the while struggling to be a successful artist.

The Guts

One of the issues I wanted to tackle is that art is not often thought of as hard work, but closer to a hobby or a leisurely pass time.  To smash this assumption I decided to print my comic on 22" x 26" sheets of handmade paper.  Making paper is one of the most laborious mediums one can practice in.  It takes a great physical toll and is quite time consuming, much like, say...construction.  To further underline the parallels between artwork and "real work"/construction, I created the paper to resemble different construction materials.  These materials included concrete, wood, tile, carpet, and insulation.  Below are some photos of the papermaking process and some results.

Here is the wood colored paper after is has been pressed and dried.  Next, I applied the wood grain.

Here is the wood colored paper after is has been pressed and dried.  Next, I applied the wood grain.

I rolled up an old piece of wood with ink to use as a printing surface (basically a giant stamp).

I rolled up an old piece of wood with ink to use as a printing surface (basically a giant stamp).

I placed my wood colored paper on the inked wood and hand-roll pressed it with a brayer.

I placed my wood colored paper on the inked wood and hand-roll pressed it with a brayer.

The result is paper that looks like wood paneling.

The result is paper that looks like wood paneling.

here are additional examples of ALL the "construction paper" in the comics  section of the site.

The Glory

The end result of this project yielded a total of 44 pages of graphic narrative on 22" x 26" sheets of handmade paper.  As seen at the top of this post, they were displayed across 60' of wall in standard gallery/print show format.  The prints are also converted into a comic book format, which I published through ETSY and can be found at the link below.