Gregory Bada was born a few centuries too late. On the outside, he looks like a straightforward, contemporary Californian—tattooed arms, sunglasses and all. But his artwork—mostly intaglio prints that look like they were crafted in the 19th century—tells a different story.
"I always loved etching—the antiquated, atmospheric effect you get from it," he says, standing inside Bay Park Press where the young artist shares studio space and printmaking equipment with others interested in printmaking and handmade artists' books.
Even in his studio, amid the decades-old etching press, his collection of etching tools and vats of acid and other pieces of equipment, it's hard to completely appreciate the process.Since taking courses under master printmaker Jim Machacek, who co-owns Bay Park Press, Bada eventually ditched a career in hospitality to become a full-time artist. The process behind the centuries-old printmaking technique he adopted is long and grueling and, since he started to regularly showing his work publicly, he's had to learn to succinctly describe the incredible amount of work he puts into each piece. Inevitably, folks who see the distinctive prints want to know exactly how he created them, but it can get complicated.
"There's a process called mezzotint," Bada says, reaching into a bag and pulling out a tool called a rocker to demonstrate. "You go over the plate like this, gently rocking against the plate, and you have to grid the plate and go over it in every conceivable direction and angle. So rockering this small plate would probably take 12 or 14 hours, but it's worth it because it gets you the deepest, richest, authentic black you can get in printmaking."
Bada's piece featured on CityBeat's cover this week, "Room Number One," is an etching, engraving and Chine-collé, which essentially means he spent weeks carving a detailed image into a metal plate. Then, during the printing process, he placed small pieces of red Japanese rice paper on the plate before each print (he typically prints just a dozen) went through the etching press. The rice paper adheres so tightly to the print that it's barely recognizable as a collage, but the little bits of paper add dramatic color and dimension.
"Room Number One' and other prints by Bada will be on view in tent No. 302 at ArtWalk NTC @ Liberty Station from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16-17, inside Ingram Plaza (2645 Historic Decatur Road in Point Loma). More than 170 other artists will also have work on view.