“We started as a print space making prints, but when we moved here we found that we had enough space to expand and actually have a show space as well, which was great,” he said of the fifth-floor walkup, located at 177 North 10th Street in room G.
Riley performs numerous print projects at the space, including book making, CMYK proofing, exhibition and display printing and Giclee prints.
But after moving to Williamsburg from in January, the room that the new location gave him convinced him that he should go ahead and display some of the work he encountered while printing.
“It’s great to have an opportunity to actually show the artists who come through and work with us,” he said. “It’s an unusual thing to be able to look at somebody’s work while you’re printing and go ‘hey I like that work, why don’t we have some of it on the wall for a while?’”
Riley has produced prints for illustrators such as Molly Crabapple and photographers such as Paul Assimacopoulos, as well as the popular website, Etsy, among others.
He has also produced Giclee prints, the French word for ink-jet printing. Described as a mechanical version of spray paint, Riley noted that it is ideal for photographs and exhibition work. The word was given to the process to differentiate the typical ink-jet printer at home versus the large machine with its calibration equipment.
Riley used to run a gallery in London before moving to New York 16 years ago. Back then, the gallery was showing what were then the cool artists of London. Many of the artists involved went on to be nominated for the Turner Prize, the national award given to artists for excellence.
Riley is still an artist, whose work was shown this spring in London. He created an hour’s worth of video as part of the “A change of light” music project. Riley got
into printing because he realized he wanted to do it on his own after acquiring an interest in it.
“I’m happy now to be making prints for other artists and having my experience in London, it seemed a great time to open a gallery and start showing someone else’s work,” he said.
The Skink Ink Gallery has already had two shows. But they will informally host another group of artists on the wall for the summer. In September, a proper gallery schedule will follow.
He is interested in showing artists from a wide range of backgrounds, from set designers to commercial illustrators and up-and-coming photographers.
“My idea is really to be much more expansive, much more open to a lot of the wide visual culture that’s going on out there,” he said.
An upcoming show will feature tattoo artists who are also making prints and another will feature crop circles, another emerging form of art, normally seen in England, which Riley refers to as rural graffiti. The shows will be held between the fall of this year and spring 2012.
“There are lots of groups of artists who are outside of the art world and are producing really interesting work, mainstream and accessible in some ways,” he said. “I’m more interested in focusing on that than what you consider to be traditional fine art.”
Riley’s overall goal is to see an exchange of ideas as artists look upon each other’s work. He plans to do workshops, talks, and film screenings during exhibitions, such as the crop circle exhibition, to foster discussion about it.
“It’s not just about the visual, it’s also about ideas,” he said. “For me it’s sort of crucible, a place we can meet, meld and come up with something better.”
The Skink Ink Gallery is open to the public Friday through Sunday, 11-7 p.m.