Steelers collab aids local artist non-profit
By Sean P. Ray | Managing Editor
HISTORIC DEUTSCHTOWN — A collaboration between the Pittsburgh Steelers and an area print shop is benefitting a Northside non-profit which supports artists.
CommonWealth Press, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh’s South Hills area, has been supporting Artists Image Resource for the past three years through a collaborative project with the Pittsburgh Steelers. CommonWealth Press works with local artists to create a unique poster for each of the Steelers’ home games, selling them in a limited run of 200 each. The proceeds of these sales are then donated to Artists Image Resource, which is a non-profit print and imaging organization that works with artists both veteran and new to creative endeavors.
Dan Rugh, owner and creative director of CommonWealth Press, said the Steelers had approached him with the idea of the poster series for home games, an opportunity he was eager for. Rugh wanted to source the art from local artists as a way of supporting the artistic community. However, he would discover another chance to support Pittsburgh’s artistic scene as the collaboration developed through a series of meetings with the Steelers.
“During one of the meetings, the Steelers had asked if I had any charities in mind for the proceeds to go to,” Rugh said.
Artists Image Resource, an organization which Rugh said he had been a fan of for many years, seemed like a natural fit. Not only would the collaboration help artists by bringing them on to design the posters, but the proceeds from the sales would benefit an organization which has supported artists since 1996.
Rugh had nothing but praise for Artists Image Resource, especially for their screen printing services.
“I know people who have come through (Artists Image Resource) whose entire livelihood is printing posters,” he said.
Robert Beckman, co-founder of Artists Image Resource, described the organization as a “print and imaging laboratory” that partners with artists for 12-18 month projects, giving the artists access to the group’s many screen printing, lithography and digital imaging technologies and equipment. He said Artists Image Resource is particularly interested in partnering with artists exploring “interesting new work.”
In addition, the non-profit will bring in young artists enrolled in college programs to work with the partnered artists, providing the students valuable experience outside of the academic setting.
“We work with artists on broad projects and we provide kind of an educational framework for young, inspiring artists,” Beckman said.
Having access to the pieces of equipment at Artists Image Resource can be invaluable to up and coming artists. Beckman said many recently graduated art students will find they no longer have an easy way to print their works en masse as when they were in school, where their campuses had such pieces of equipment readily available.
“Now you’re out in the world trying to figure out how you’re going to make art making a part of your world,” Beckman said.
Printing is a way to “stabilize meaning and disseminate it,” Beckman said, allowing the message of the art to be spread through printing copies.
The support from CommonWealth Press’ collaboration is greatly appreciated. Beckman said Artists Image Resource has a roughly 50/50 funding format, whereby 50% of its funds comes through contract work and income from projects, while the other 50% comes from grants and fundraisers of various kinds, like the kind from CommonWealth Press.
While the proceeds may not seem large to some organizations, Beckman said they are “crazy significant” for Artists Image Resource.
“Every little bit helps,” he said. “You could give me $25 and I would appreciate it.”
Rugh, for his part, is happy to help. “If you think about it, there’s very little support for artists that are just getting started, and they’re there to make that happen,” he said.
Further, he has enjoyed the collaboration with the Steelers. The team will provide CommonWealth Press with a concept for each poster, which the company and partnering artist will work to fully develop. A concept poster will be submitted to the Steelers for feedback, though Rugh said the team is usually “pretty open with the Artists intentions” and rarely demands major revisions.
The collaboration has provided CommonWealth Press with the chance to work with many local artists, including the design team strawberryluna, consisting of Allison Glancey and Craig Seder, or the cartoonist known as Wayno, who draws the “Bizarro” newspaper comic series. The collaborating artists come from all kinds of backgrounds and work across many different styles.
In fact, being a football fan isn’t even a requirement for the poster project.
“I’ve worked with some artists who are die-hard football fans, and there are some who aren’t at all,” Rugh said.
Rugh said it was “impressive” that an organization as big as the Steelers understands the importance of local art enough to initiate a project like the poster series.
Artists Image Resource will be showing off some of the works it helps support with an exhibition on Dec. 8 showing works by artists Mary Martin and Gavin Benjamin. Any artists interested in working with Artists Image Resource can contact them at info@artistsimageresource. org, or find more information at airpgh.org.