Back on Track

Storytellers Continue Their Narratives, to Delay the Inevitable Moment When Everyone Must Fall Silent. 2016.

Storytellers Continue Their Narratives, to Delay the Inevitable Moment When Everyone Must Fall Silent. 2016.

Greetings Everyone,

Long time no hear, yes? The print studio I was a member of when I returned from my residency was deep in debt when I joined. After several months of mediocre fundraising and a few building break-ins (we were in the warehouse next to the regional soup kitchen), we were asked to relocate. Unable to find a place to set-up, the equipment went into storage. And now, with me being the only former member paying off the debt, the equipment is being reclaimed by the original organization.


As you can probably imagine, after that burn to my art practice I had to take some time off from stressors. I got a stable job as a large-format printer operator. I joined a few arts organizations (the Sanctuary, the Redwood Art Association). I bought a bicycle, went into therapy, and started what I affectionally called the "Katy Self-Improvement Project."

And now it is time to finish Phase 1 of the UPL.

There is now a functional printing set-up at the Sanctuary Arcata, where I volunteer every Friday as the lab monitor (http://www.sanctuaryarcata.org/). All the lightbulbs in the light box finally light! I can washout screens at the car wash four blocks away! All of these things seem like miracles now after struggling for a few years in my post-graduate slump here in Humboldt. Where life is cheaper, but no one wants to pay an artist like they do in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The first donor phrase printing has been completed, with 7 or 8 designs being planned. I will update again when I start mailing versions out to those who donated enough for a custom phrase. Attached is the template draft of the following: "Storytellers Continue Their Narratives To Delay The Inevitable Moment When Everyone Must Fall Silent."

Thanks to you all for patience and continued support.

Katy Warner

Ink People DreamMakers Survey

I kept procrastinating on this questionnaire from The Ink People, so here it is completed for y’all to judge!
— Me, on Facebook

What is the name of your organization? How do you want to be referred to?
Universal Pictorial Language

Please describe your program in a few short sentences.
Most invented languages are written by one person with a specific intention or ideology. But you and I will forgo that to create the Universal Pictorial Language, or UPL. An image-based language written from scratch. I have begun hosting tabling events where I sit down with as many people as fathomable, and draw as many hieroglyphics as possible. Our collaboration will coalesce into a language understood across the region, the nation and potentially the world.

Tell us your creation story. How did you come up with your program? What was the inspiration?
While in my final semester of graduate school, I needed to have a side project to keep me sane whilst also installing a huge makeshift bedroom in the gallery space. Previously I had created rebus music videos, visual puns that sounded out the words of some of my favorite songs. The problem with these pieces is that the images I created weren't mutually intelligible - they were all puns that only I could really get. 

I began researching auxlangs, auxiliary languages means to be used for cross-communication. Dissatisfied with the haughtiness and ego I saw in previous auxlang projects, I decided to experiment with making an entirely pictorial language using public submissions and the democratic process.

What are the biggest challenges your program faces?
Getting participants. I table at public events and advertise online asking for people to submit glyphs, but I need a base group of participants who join in regularly and keep the conversation alive. Advertising, a comprehensive website, and regular public events could get me there, but it is hard as an artist who can only be in the studio 2 days a week.

How would you like for your program to grow?
I want to create a web forum for UPL discussion and submissions. I also would like to be able to table at least once a month, possibly twice. Eventually I will start printing UPL dictionaries that I can share with galleries, book stores, community centers, and language invention convention-goers.

How has the Ink People helped your program?
The Ink People helped me with my post-grad residency fundraiser, where I spent 2 months at the Kala Art Institute learning how to screen print - the medium I chose to produce Universal Pictorial Language materials to share in galleries. Now thanks to the Ink Annex's print studio, I can continue honing my technique while collaborating with the Giant Squid Printmakers.

Is there anything about being a DreamMaker or the DreamMaker MOU that you would change?
I would like more opportunities to interact with the rest of the DreamMakers, and advertise my events via Facebook and other social media. I also feel as if the current layout of the Ink People website could be improved to give a better idea of what each DreamMaker does (but that I assume is what this form is for!).

Do you have an anecdote or funny story to tell about your program, or the Ink People?
As a part of my auxlang / art practice, I set up tables in some interesting places, including Berkeley. There is an active and well treated homeless population in Downtown Berkeley, since many people were kicked out of San Francisco. One person who came to my table was a woman wearing about 4 layers of coats who had a ginger cat she called Zeus on a leash. I told her about my project, but instead of voting on glyphs she wanted to draw her own.

What she gave me was a cypher of the English Alphabet. I know it isn't a conlang, but she spent about 10 minutes on it and I promised her I would share it with all the "language inventors" I knew. So please enjoy. I have redrawn it in my hand - her name seems to be Lhoryanne.

How does your program connect with the community?
The Universal Pictorial Language is a chance for the public to explore concepts usually not considered on a daily basis. It activates creative thinking, does not disenfranchise those who think they "cannot draw," and allows people to consider how to relate to people of different backgrounds, religions, languages, and socio-economic statuses. It is truly democratizing. A homeless person has just as much say in the UPL as a college professor, for they can both consider what communication issues can arise and reach a compromise visually with a quick drawing. This is why I table in public spaces, as well as in art galleries. Having input from a wide swathe of those who would be interested in an auxlang makes for a superior Universal Pictorial Language.

Reality Check

I do believe that, in the process of learning art at institutions I became, well, SPOILED. I am use to facilities that are fixed when I am away, and having the time to learn my equipment. Having classes that teach me to anticipate what goes wrong. Oh, what luxuries those were!

The Ink Annex is not that way. I am almost always the only person in here screen printing. The wash-out station is a shower with a hose. Everything leaks. The fridge I bought still freezes our emulsion. It is not easy to get from concept to print - transparencies are made at the FedEx 20 blocks away, the studio itself is two towns away from where I live, and I don't have a car. Insert whining noises here.


My latest progress report was show at Kala for one day, but I was dissatisfied with the results because of all the mistakes I made (that's why no picture yet, sorry). I couldn't afford to continue to dig into my savings to improve my equipment without a job, so I was sort of stuck. BUT THEN I GOT HIRED! And now I can manage to buy a power washer, better screens, machine cut paper, my own chemicals. Ah, the future is bright.

All of you who have been wondering why I went AWOL, that is your answer. I wanted to finish the perks I promised donors before I continued tabling, and I couldn't effectively work on the perks. I was struggling paying bills instead of buying supplies, I had IOUs piling up. Long story short, I was no longer a student with ample art-making time on my hands. But now I can afford to be in the studio all weekend, and make this studio just a little better. It is a glorious feeling.


The Ink Annex and all its facets.

The Ink Annex and all its facets.

Anarchists and Glyphs

Greetings All!

I thank all of you who helped me with my fundraiser while I was in Berkeley and Oakland last month. From submitting drawings, debating with me at my table, or just spreading the word, every little bit was important. I successfully learned screen printing, but I could not afford to, nor logistically design, 200 glyphs in those two months. That was impossibly ambitious, I know. But none of this was in vain! I now can afford to move forward, first on perk fulfillment for my great donors, and then the printing of a basic Universal Pictorial Language dictionary.


I have now settled down into my new adoptive studio space, the Ink Annex in Eureka, California, USA. Here in Eureka the hair is a little bit longer, the stores open a little bit later (10am - 6pm), and the art is a whole lot weirder. Like it should be. Although... since I have this weird compulsion to "reorganize" other people's stuff, the print lab might not be too safe in my presence.

Here in Humboldt I will be meeting twice monthly (maybe more!) with the people of Humboldt to continue designing glyphs. My first meeting to introduce this project will be from 5:30 - 7:00 pm on February 20th at the Ink People offices in Downtown Eureka. More info soon on what our goals will be (I'm thinking grammar debate - can't have a language without grammar!).

Now, most of you don't live in the state of Jefferson / the Emerald Triangle / the Redwood Coast / whatever term is popular now. You can still participate! This week I begin the "Glyph of the Week" submission system. Head over to my latest blog post on the word WE here, and let me know what you like or dislike about my placeholder glyph. And, feel free to design your own. How would you draw the word WE so that as many people as possible could understand? If you don't have a digital drawing program, a camera, or a webcam to photograph your own drawings, email me at deathundothee@yahoo.com and we can arrange something - there are several options online.

Please check out all the new sections on my website I have created for public debate, and stay tuned as I start making more prints for sale.


Take care,
Katy Warner