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Platemark: Prints and the Printmaking Ecosystem

Platemark is a podcast about art and ideas. Hosted by Ann Shafer and Ben Levy, formerly colleagues at the Baltimore Museum of Art, conversations focus on museums, curating, critiques, value (market/conceptual), the Western canon, and prints and printmaking.

Dec 6, 2022

In Platemark s3e14, host Ann Shafer speaks with James Ehlers, professor and chair of the studio art department at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. It turns out, Emporia State offers the only BFA in engraving arts in the United States. Platemark listeners will know Ann has a soft spot for intaglio prints with an abiding love of engraving due to her studies of Stanley William Hayter. With so few artists working in engraving these days, the chance to speak with the professor of that discipline at the only US college to offer it was too good to pass up.

The most surprising thing was the popularity of engraving courses as it applies to objects rather than prints. Beautiful, intricate swirling designs adorn jewelry, rifles, and knives. No ink or press necessary.

Episode image: Dave Leiker

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Octopus ring.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Tick Tick Boom, 2020. Engraving.

Gerry Wubben (American, born 1963?). Landscape. Engraving. Plate: 12 x 36 inches. Collection of James Ehlers.

Jack Orman (American, 1930–2020). The Little Fish. Engraving. Collection of James Ehlers.

Hayter prints in Ann Shafer’s dining room, Baltimore.

Stanley William Hayter (British, 1901–1988). Warriors (Guerriers), 1953. Color engraving, softground etching, and scorper. Plate: 18 3/4 x 13 3/16 in. Annex Galleries.

Stanley William Hayter (British, 1901–1988). Combat, 1936. Engraving, softground etching, and scorper. Plate: 15 3/4 × 19 1/4 in. (40 × 48.9 cm.); sheet: 21 in. × 23 1/2 in. (53.3 × 59.7 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Stanley William Hayter (British, 1901–1988). Amazon, 1945. Engraving, softground etching, and scorper. Plate: 24 1/2 x 15 7/8 in. (62.2 x 40.3 cm.); sheet: 29 15/16 x 20 ¼ in. (76 x 51.4 cm.). Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528). Knight, Death, and the Devil, 1513. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 245 x 189 mm (9 5/8 x 7 7/16 in.). Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

John Decker (American). Knight Death and the Devil after Durer, 2022. Engraving. 6 x 4 in.

James Stroud (American, born 1958). Burin Studies (state 1-14 and final), 1980. Engraving. Sheet (each): 250 × 205 mm. (9 13/16 × 8 1/16 in.); plate (each): 184 × 138 mm. (7 1/4 × 5 7/16 in.). Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore.

Oscar Gillespie (American, born 1952). Red Dog Fetish, 1982. Engraving. Plate: 30 x 20 in.

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528). The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from the series The Apocalypse, 1498. Woodcut. 39.3 x 28.5 cm (15 1/2 x 11 1/4 in). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Be Strong Be Resilient Be Utterly Terrified, 2020. Engraving. Plate: 12 x 9 inches.

David Avery (American, born 1952). Too Close to the Sun, 2013. Etching. Plate: 6 x 6 in.; sheet: 12 x 11 in. Childs Gallery.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Forgiveness and Redemption, 2021. Engraving. Plate: 12 x 18 inches.

Andrew Raftery (American, born 1962). Autobiography of a Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates, 2009–16. Set of twelve earthenware dinner plates with transferred engravings (recto and verso). Each plate: 12 1/2 × 12 1/2 in. (31.8 × 31.8 cm.). Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Race the Sun, 2022. Engraving. Plate: 6 x 4 in.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Artifice, 2017. Engraving. Plate: 7 ¼ x 9 inches.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Pin Cushion, 2020. Engraving. Plate: 6 x 4 inches.

James Ehlers (American, born 1976). Coming and Going Empty Handed (state ii), 2022. Engraving. Plate: 15 x 20 inches.


James Ehlers’ Instagram page:

James Ehlers’ website:

James Ehlers’ Facebook page:

James Ehlers’ YouTube channel:

Engraving degree at Emporia State University:

Makers of pneumatic engraving tools, Glendo LLC:

Available prints by Hayter are at Galerie Michelle Champetier: and at

Ann Shafer’s talk on Hayter:

Film of Stanley William Hayter creating the print Angels Wrestling, 1950:

Society of American Graphic Artists: