By Teresa Blackman
A long tradition of artists has sought Virgil’s guidance. Maddie Pelletier, a junior printmaking major, is following suit — exchanging a versifying Virgil for a printing one.
For a few hours each week, Pelletier works at an old 1960s television store-turned art studio — the letterpress workshop of Dallas artist Virgil Scott.
“I came into the internship not knowing anything about letterpress except that it was cool, and that people do cool business cards with it, and wedding invitations, but I didn’t really know how it worked,” Pelletier said. “Just by watching him with all the experience that he has and watching his design process, I’m learning what an organized letterpress studio looks like.”
At the studio, Pelletier assists in every area of the printing process.
“There’s so many thousands of pieces that you need to have a studio…you need like every single little width of this metal one, you need every single little width of this, you have all these fonts,” Pelletier said.
Scott said he is especially grateful for Pelletier’s help with his solo show, “Pure Texas Talk.” In preparation for the show, she helped to print almost 1,000 individual covers for the exhibition catalogue.
“I really believe we set a studio record,” Scott said. “700 in five hours, which is a record for sure.”
Like his namesake, Scott is a seasoned artist. Inspired by his high school art teacher to pursue an artistic career, he began as a ceramicist, but later gravitated toward graphic design. In the 1990s, he created Scott Design, through which he has served illustrious customers such as American Airlines, Frito-Lay, the Dallas Cowboys and Walt Disney. After earning his master’s degree in 2006, he added pedagogy to his resume with a position at Texas A&M University-Commerce in Dallas. Around this time Scott also opened his letterpress studio, Studio 204.
University of Dallas printmaking professor Steven Foutch proposed the internship to Scott in exchange for a piece of printing equipment.
“It’s a dream come true for me to come in and have a major ready that I can do all my work for, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” Foutch said. He holds Pelletier’s artistic work in high regard, seeing a maturity in her expertise that belies her age and experience.
“It’s really intellectually challenging,” Foutch said. “There’s a lot going on, layers and layers of meaning. She understands a lot more about what art is than most people do at her level.”
Also at Foutch’s suggestion, Pelletier will take her printing skills up north this summer to learn from world-class printers at Frogman’s Printmaking Conference in Vermillion, S.D., a trip funded by a UD Experience Award.
Foutch encourages Pelletier to try new things not only outside UD, but also within the studio.
“What have I learned from him? So much!” Pelletier said. “I’ve learned a whole new perspective on fine art printmaking. If you ask him a question, a lot of times he’ll just say, ‘I’m not going to answer that, figure it out yourself,’ or like ‘Google it, or try both ways! See which way you like more!’ [He] opens up the possibilities of printmaking.”
Her experience fits Foutch’s understanding of an art degree, which he describes as “a degree in problem solving.”
“That’s what creating art is. You can basically go into any field you choose,” Foutch said.
Pelletier seems to fit this description, as she embraces several forms of art. Pelletier has rapped at Cap House, designed T-shirt, and decorated shoes, walls and mugs. In fact, she designed a mug in the post office as well as the puppy on the package slips. Pelletier says she plans to continue her artistic work in the future.
“I’ve always been interested in several things, but art is the one I can work on for hours and not get bored,” Pelletier said.
After graduation, she says she wishes to join the tradition of ex-patriot artists and spend some time abroad. Ultimately, though, she just wants to continue creating.
Whether she’s teaching third graders or designing tablecloths, Pelletier will bring a passion for art anywhere, as Scott says she does at Studio 204.
“The thing about Maddie is she’s so cool and even-tempered, which is great,” Scott said. “She really wants to be there and that’s always nice when you get to work with somebody who has the same passion for what you’re doing. We’re just really, really happy to have her help us out.”