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Creative Careers: Lyz Luidens (BFA ‘13)

Just three years out of college, Stamps grad Lyz Luidens (BFA '13) is taking the world by storm.

A Stamps School Michele Schara Artist & Designer in Residence at Brightmoor's Detroit Community High School and founder of Prankster Press, a letterpress and fine art print shop out of the Riopelle artist studio/gallery collective in Detroit's Eastern Market, Lyz is also a recent recipient of a $10K Knight Foundation Award. Recently, we caught up with Lyz for a quick Q&A about her current work and how her creative practice has blossomed post-graduation.


As the 15/16 Michelle Schara Resident, you play a critical role in the Stamps School's Detroit Collaborations program, integrating art and design education into the curriculum at Detroit Community High School (DCH). What experiences helped prepare you for this role?

While I was at Stamps, I was very active in Professor Janie Paul's Prison Creative Arts Project class, and a little while after, guiding a group of Michigan inmates through the creative process. That was hugely influential and has informed my approach in many ways. After graduation, I'd co-taught an intaglio printing workshop in Ann Arbor and taught workshops at the Carr Center and the Detroit Public Library. The Schara Residency has been my first long-range engagement with students. Having an entire academic year to work with students has been really nice because I've been able to build on what we've done in past classes and create real relationships.

Can you describe your current day-to-day in the school and how your role in the school evolved over time?

Originally, my residency was scheduled for fall 2015, but I got an extension to continue my work with the students through the end of the academic year. At the start of the year, I'd been visiting with DCH students in the art studio just once a week, but now we're up to around 3 visits per week. My curriculum focuses on mapmaking as a way for students to think differently about their time and the spaces they inhabit. In addition to conceptual thinking techniques, the students are learning specific printmaking skills like monoprinting and linoleum relief prints. The students actually get to make prints during my time with them, which gives them some of the immediate satisfaction they need to stay engaged.


In addition to your work at DCH, it looks like you also run Prankster Press, a letterpress and fine art printshop out of the Riopelle studio collective in Detroit's Eastern Market. Tell me about your work at Riopelle.

Riopelle is a studio and gallery space shared mostly by U-M Stamps grads. I've got a couple letterpresses in the space and it had been where I did most of my creative and freelancing work until November 2015, while I was still working my 9-5 design job. I reached a point where I had enough freelance clients where I could make a decision: keep my graphic design day job, or go all in with my own entrepreneurial work. I chose the latter and so far, it's been going really well. I have a returning job with Zingermans - I letterpress the illustrations on their mail order packaging - and lots of interesting one-off commissions. I just finished a really beautiful journal-style notebook for Detroit Mercantile Co.


You recently received a $10K Knight Foundation Award for The Atlas Project. Can you tell me a bit about the project?

In many ways, The Atlas Project mirrors my mapmaking work with the DCH students. While it's still very much a work-in-progress, I want to document how Detroiters experience their city. The piece will be a combination of data-driven maps of Detroit and personal, subjective maps printed by Detroiters during the printmaking and mapping workshops I'll be hosting to gather their perspectives and learn how the city has changed over time.


Was there a particular moment in time or a catalyst that helped to spark The Atlas Project?

I don't think there was a moment; I started being interested in maps in my sophomore year of college, when I started working at the map library at U-M. I loved the object quality of the maps, the etched illustrations and borders, the way they could be both conceptual and utilitarian.

What advice would you give to someone graduating with a Stamps BFA?

Keep making things.

My IP project was just my jumping off point. You need to keep following that thread. Stay in touch with your professors and peers. And stay in conversations with other artists.