If you’ve ever visited an art gallery in Milwaukee, Austin, Chicago or Nashville you may have seen one of Francisco Ramirez’s screen prints or other works of art. Francisco’s love for screen printing came from his time playing in bands. He learned how to create posters for upcoming gigs and that sparked a new career.
After receiving an art degree from Columba College in Chicago Francisco hit the ground running and has been creating screen prints and paintings from his Milwaukee studio ever since. In 2020, one of Francisco’s Black Lives Matter prints was acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Pretty cool, right?! Be sure to check out Francisco’s prints and paintings at DEVIATE!
How would you describe your work?
I have been screen printing for a long time now, mostly creating event posters or “gig posters” as some would call it. My work goes from abstract to absurd, serious to flatout goofballs. Some of my work is collage based and illustrated as well. Matters how I feel that day. I recently have been making large paintings that are influenced by minimalist and futurist movements.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from music mostly, I listen to mostly droning soundscapes while making sketches in my studio. I will also tear apart old magazines and paste them together but adding crude illustrations on top of the images. I seem to be drawn to architectural illustrations as well. They always feel more abstract to me than the original purpose of the sketch.
How long does it take for you to do a piece from start to finish? For my screen prints, I make daily designs. Some are used, some are scraped or pulled apart and made into a whole new image, so it can be days worth of work or 15 minutes. My paintings will take up to a month to be completed. I work on them while I am between print designs. The paintings are definitely more of an expansion of what I do in my printwork. The paintings are made using found or scrap wood. Sometimes, I find scrap metal to print or paint on. For my printwork, I get recycled paper from a papermill in Michigan.
Where can we find your work? Examples of galleries, stores, and events you have been involved in. There are poster conventions called Flatstock, they are put on by the American Poster Institute, of which I am also a board member. Flatstock is always connected to a music festival, so there are Flatstocks in Austin, Chicago, Hamburg, Barcelona and Mexico City. Soon there will be new conventions in South America. I also do smaller poster shows throughout the United States as well as some one day events as well locally.
My work can be found in Milwaukee at Lion's Tooth Bookstore, Galerie F in Chicago, Gift Horse in Nashville and Comal County Rebels Art Gallery in Austin. One of my prints is in the National Museum of Estonia, most recently one of my prints was acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art.
What is your background? I came from the DIY ethos of punk rock. I played in bands, toured a lot, learned how to create and make new contacts. But being in bands, I had to make flyers for shows, I started making scanned copies at the grocery store, eventually moved up screen printed posters. I went to school in my early 30's at Columbia College of Chicago, BA in Art+Design and Minor in Art History. The Art+Design program was perfect for me. I wanted to learn as much as I can from different fields. I had classes in architecture, fashion, acting, sound, but I took every single printmaking class or workshop that I could. I would take them multiple times as well and use them as electives for my degree.
Is this your full-time job? If so, where do you work? This is my main job, I have a 500sqft studio in the Bay View part of Milwaukee, it's a warehouse with other artists who also work in the building. I am also a substitute teacher, which is great. I like teaching but I don't have to make lesson plans and I work only when I want to. Sometimes design jobs don't come in as frequently as I would like, I can pick up a teaching job that day if need be.
What are your future goals for your pieces? I am looking forward to creating some new paintings. What will they be? I am not sure. I need to work on some sketches and then throw those out and completely do it on the fly.
What do you want us to know about your art, your design, or anything at all?
I enjoy what I do, it can be frustrating at times. I make everything for myself, if someone likes or is drawn to it, great. If not, I don't beat myself over it. I'm happy, I get to do what I do. It's just ink on paper.
What are you most excited about for DEVIATE? I'm excited to see what the other artists are doing. If there is anything that is interactive with the people that are attending, that is the one reason to come. I might have snacks in my booth. So there.