Artist Focus by Katie Bonadies
Pictured: Jonathan Bishop. Image courtesy of the artist.
Jonathan is a maker who likes to get his hands into many different media. He loves typography, 3D printing, laser cut design, and photography, as well as letterpress printing and other print-related mediums. He often mixes his media, like laser engraving a sculpture he made with a 3D printer. Jonathan has been at RWS Since February 2023 and helps take care of the studios as the Studio Technician.
Jonathan enjoys making things that are functional and likes to create objects that commemorate special occasions for friends and family by making laser cut birthday cards and baby shower and wedding designs. Making things for other people motivates him, and most of the work he makes is made for someone else like when he designed his best friend’s wedding, “Her excitement was inspiring.” Some of the projects that started out as a gift for a friend have become items he has sold hundreds of times over in his online store. He started making these items when stores closed during the pandemic.
Anatomy of Typography. Letterpress print. 2020.
Jonathan had originally gone to school for architecture and blueprints and linework and the schematics of things are thematic throughout his work and translate well into his graphic design. He left school and spent a decade in retail management before returning to school for a BFA in Visual Communication Design–the study of creating images that convey a message– and enjoyed learning new things through experimentation as he created. One semester he took five studio courses before Covid shut the studios (and everything else) down. Jonathan discovered photography in his last semester and immediately fell in love with it. Jonathan and his husband planned to move out of Ohio after graduation and went on road trips to Colorado and Maine in search of a new place to live. The couple decided to relocate to the Portland area after falling in love with it while camping. Being in nature and exploring new places inspires Jonathan to want to make things. He took a landscape photography class the summer they visited and picked up a free letterpress while he was here and got excited by all of the arts there are to discover in the area. Jonathan’s inspired by Maine landscapes and plans to use his laser to build topographic maps of Portland and other Maine themed objects.
An example of Jonathan's product photography.
He’s also really into the history of things and recently completed a program to become a historic docent in Portland. Jonathan is also interested in how people are going to use and interact with the objects he makes, as well as the personal histories the objects tell. Part of the joy of making, for him, is that the mementos are a physical object that holds emotional weight for people.
Not only do they preserve the moments we celebrate, the receiver feels joy whenever they hold the object. He also loves to transform something old into something beautiful or functional and give it a new purpose. Last year he built his Halloween yard decorations from found objects. He’s obsessed with Halloween and makes decorative concrete fire pit skulls for fun. Before he left Ohio he acquired a series of pumpkin molds and is excited to experiment and learn how to slip cast with them. Last Halloween he had a goal to make their yard decorations for zero dollars and made them out of discarded items, “Everything can be turned into something. I think it’s fun.” Jonathan and his husband recently bought a house in Maine and have remodeled everything except the bathroom, doing most of the work themselves. Jonathan had learned how to use a lot of tools when he and his husband were fixing up their house in Ohio. The previous homeowners left a lot of belongings behind and Jonathan has been repurposing them to create something new and functional that suits his purposes. One project included taking apart old bookshelves and using the boards to build raised garden beds. He also likes to visit thrift shops when he and his husband travel because the shops have random things you won’t find anywhere else, and that was one of the first things he did when they arrived in Portland. These items and other makers get him thinking about what’s possible and what he can make out of the things he finds or has available.
MarLisa & William wedding stationary designs. 2022.
He recently found 200 tap handles at a bar that was redesigning their space and has started fashioning them into bottle openers as prototype branding items for local breweries. One of Jonathan’s favorite tools is an x-acto knife with a blade that attaches to its handle by a magnet. He turned the company’s logo into a stand for the knife and 3D printed the design to make a promotional item. His immediate plan is to start bringing his 207 designs to life through photography, letterpress, and unique merchandise with the history of Maine in mind and start offering branded services to local businesses this fall. Jonathan will be at a few holiday themed markets in Congress Square this fall and was one of the participating printmakers in the RWS Steamy Summer Print Jam in July. Contact Jonathan through his popl on Instagram @jbishop.design including his website jbishop.design.