Celebrating in washi and ink. The “etegami” mini prints catalogue.

Celebrating through art

Join me on this new step in my artistic journey – to create a catalogue of “celebration” mini prints.

Every year I fill a number of sketchbooks and Japanese papers (washi) with smaller ink wash paintings. Some of those images are part of larger projects, destined to become part of book editions. Others are the result of special moments. Moments when I take the time to slow down and observe the nature around me, or celebrate a special place, wherever I happen to be. Most often in downtown Zurich, sometimes in Japan. Frequently featuring a bird or more. Always calming and quiet. Because such mini paintings are part of my journals, or special gifts, the originals are not available for sale. Isn’t it a shame when art sits on a single shelf or wall though?

I wish for anyone that feels a connection to the themes and moments that I paint to be able to appreciate my art. It is with this spirit in mind that I share some of my work in progress on instagram.

Starting in 2021, and if all goes well, I plan to add two new mini prints per year. One will fit a spring or summer greeting timing, and the second the winter holiday season. These mini prints will come on a traditional Japanese postcard (hagaki) size.

Why etegami

Literally, etegami are “painted letters”. Traditionally, one would pick up the brush, paint a seasonal image on a postcard, and add some well wishes in calligraphy for the intended recipient. Sometimes painted letters would even include a detail view from a famous place visited. There are many occasions to send etegami, but the most popular ones are the New Year (nengajo) and summer. New Year painted letters tend to carry wishes of success and luck. In the West we tend to associate summer with holidays, but in Japan summer is mostly associated with extreme heat. Summer greetings focus on health and evoking cool images. My mini prints will follow these two themes, somewhat loosely. The prints will use the traditional etegami format, the small and intimate postcard size, 10 by 15 centimetres.

Keeping with the spirit of a personal greeting, all mini prints are individually signed by the artist on the reverse side.

Supporting traditional arts from Japan

My artistic work has its roots in my personal admiration for the traditional craftsmanship of Japan. Many of the traditional arts still struggle to attract newer generations or artisans to ensure their continuity. Generating demand by choosing artisans’ work is the only way to support their longevity. Although this choice comes at a price, the mini prints are printed on, and wrapped with washi from original Japanese mills.

All prints in this catalogue will support the Artist Support Pledge initiative founded by Matthew Burrow. With a small twist. If and when we reach 1’000 CHF of sales, my 20 percent will support other artists and makers, also in a field of traditional Japanese art.

A warm gift of beauty

The handmade washi with deckled edges selected for these prints, along with the fine-tuning of the image combine to create a long-lasting fine art print with a feeling of warmth. Particular care goes to ensure the reproduction in pigment ink is as faithful to the original as possible.

To reach the level of beauty and faithfulness is also an intensive process – every postcard needs careful manual fitting prior to printing. After the print is dry, any tiny ink spots along the deckled edges’ long fibres need to be carefully removed. It is a combination of the latest fine art printing technology, the heritage of washi craftsmanship, and the artist’s obsessive care.

The postcard small size invites the viewer to get close to its subject and story. A pleasure to hold or display, the mini prints are the perfect gift for a special friend, perhaps a sign of appreciation to a trusted business partner or a treat for yourself. Whatever the occasion, these prints attempt to replicate the delight and wonder I felt when observing the original scenes for the first time. I hope some of these feelings reach you too.

Below the catalogue of prints currently available: