Patrick Fenton

Studio F-5 


Artist Statement

I have long been intrigued by the documentation of time and place, by the notion of identity, and the idea of transition. These interests have evolved to include three areas of investigation related to works on paper.

Inspired by printers’ traditions of producing landscape prints, I set out to capture the modern day essence of my local landscapes. A series of studies in how best to merge photographic and 4-color letterpress printing processes resulted in studies of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. Having relocated to Palo Alto, the intent is to build on the results of the experiments, using local landscapes including city scenes, the Dish, El Palo Alto, and various neighborhood scenes as points of departure. My intent is to translate photographs and drawings to polymer plates initially, and then to experiment with 4-color laser cut wood prints.

Coats of arms, food and drink labels, clothing labels, and all kinds of branding vehicles proudly claim responsibility for the heritage of people and things. In many cases, the stickiest labels are invisible, or perhaps only applied behind our backs. As a printer and a designer, I have made the first kind of labels. Now I am interested in bringing the invisible kinds to life. What does it mean to bring derogatory and complimentary labels to life in printed matter? Where do they stick? My investigation starts by letterpress printing stereotypes, slang, and other people identifiers on adhesive backed paper, and investigating how they apply.

Many of the most impactful experiences in our lives are framed by forms and certificates. Certificates are already elevated, and inspiring as printed matter. But forms are overlooked and possibly more important as they are catalysts. This study is about celebrating forms as printed editions, and thinking more about making applications more meaningful. It will also include producing applications and requirements for unwanted roles and positions. As for certificates, they are already exquisite, but they celebrate only rarified occasions. Consequently, my investigation is in producing certificates to remember everyday moments – the best, the worst, and the forgotten.

These studies in identity and transition are focused on local people and places and together produce a community portrait, becoming part of local history. They take advantage of contemporary tools and materials, used in conjunction with age-old printing practices.


Patrick Fenton is a partner in the design studio Swayspace, based in New York and San Francisco. He is currently a Lecturer in the Product Design Department at Stanford University, and has taught in the Industrial and Fine Arts Departments at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.


Gowanus, Brooklyn. 4 color letterpress print. (With Swayspace and David Biskup)


In transit. 2 color risograph print; 3 color letterpress print; rubber stamp. 2016. (with Swayspace)


Cold. Digital study for label. 2016.

Last Updated: Nov 22, 2017