I’ve been utterly charmed by the printmaking art of Arna Miller and Ravi Zupa at the Treasure Prizes studio in Denver. Their most recent collection is faux-vintage matchboxes featuring ne’er-do-well hooligan cats engaged in all manner of shenanigans:
Each box is $20 (shipped sans matches).
ABOUT THE ART
I draw in pencil and use visual references from books and the internet. My aim is to create narrative illustrations that depict magical moments.
I find inspiration in book illustrations, vintage packaging, matchboxes, magic show posters, and early-20th century illustrations.
I often use text to tell part of the story, but like to leave most of the narrative up to the viewer.
My guiding rule—which I sometimes break—is Possible, but Not Likely. For example, it’s possible for a vole to sit on a cigarette box and float down a river, but it is not likely. On the other hand, dinosaurs didn’t have laptops and headphones, so I would not draw that.
I began doing art late in life—or so it felt at the time. I was in my mid-twenties and after hearing the 10,000-hours-to-master-a-skill theory, I felt compelled to frantically catch up.
Before all that, when everything crashed in 2008, I lost my job at an architecture firm. It was for the best. I felt guilty that I didn’t want to work in an office or use my degree, so I was grateful when the decision to leave was made for me.
I’d fantasized about being a creator and working for myself for a long time. After leaving the world of offices, I immediately signed up for a screen printing class and took ongoing drawing and painting classes at the Art Students’ League of Denver. My main goal was freedom, so I got out of credit card debt and designed my lifestyle to be simple and frugal.
After years of having affordable-but-windowless studios in less than ideal locations—next to the men’s bathroom, by a train crossing, sharing a thin wall with a lawnmower repair shop—I now have my own studio, in my own home!
Arna also gives workshops in printmaking at her studio. (I wish I lived closer!) Explore her work at Treasure Prizes.