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R is for Relief Printing

A-Z of Craft

Welcome back to our ongoing series A to Z of Craft! This series showcases the different materials, tools and techniques our artisans use to create their one of a kind pieces. From traditional to innovative, by highlighting how our makers create, we are here to celebrate craft in all its wonderful iterations.

This time we spoke to Marko Barakoski all about the art of Relief Printing. Marko's prints are made from tree sourced on Vancouver Island, by a method that he started to perfect in Italy, with materials from the UK and Japan. He talks us through how all of this comes together to create incredible, original art right here in Canada. Marko made his One Of A Kind debut at our Spring 2019 show and you will be able to see him and his work at our 2019 Winter Show! Read on to watch a video of Marko’s process, learn about his inspirations and to understand what he finds truly special about the art of Relief Printing.

Be sure to come and check out Marko's work at the One Of A Kind Winter 2019 show from 21st November- 1st December (next week!) You'll find him at booth Q12, come say hello!


For those who do not know, can you describe your craft?

I make original end grain relief prints of tree sourced from Vancouver Island and Ontario. The process of choosing the tree is rather subjective and I don't really follow a 'process' for this- I normally walk through lumber yards or my property on Vancouver Island and look for interesting shapes or logs that speak to me. Many times a colleague in the industry will contact me saying they have some unique trees that would print well. Last year I purchased land on Vancouver Island, and it is here where I do a lot of searching for the western species. The oldest tree I've printed is entitled Eye to Eye, and it is over 800 years old.

Eye to Eye, by Marko Barakoski

What inspired you to start creating?

I've always created - I started with the relief prints when I fell in love with the work of Bryan Nash Gill - I just had to figure it out for myself.

I've always been self-employed since graduating from University. Because of this I think creativity is as necessary as work ethic and ambition. Without someone telling you how something should be done, you find your own path. At the request of a friend I began entering sculpture contests in Toronto and area and realised then that I have the capacity and skill to compete with professionally trained artists. I made sculptures out of recycled and repurposed materials, and later began incorporated these skills to my woodwork and carpentry.

What inspired you to explore Relief Printing as a technique?

I was first inspired to start experimenting with woodcut prints after watching a short documentary on the New York artist Bryan Nash Gill. After watching the video I was hooked, and after many months of testing methods, inks, papers and styles, I came up with what are now my own relief prints. I'm sure there are others doing this but I believe that my product best represents the life and look of each tree through remarkable detail and aesthetic style.

Could you give us some insight into your making process?

Sure! Please watch the video below fully explaining myself and my process;

What is it about Relief Printing that is so special and unique for you personally?

After seeing the Bryan Nash Gill New Yorker video many years ago, I began to experiment with the process. It was a process of trial and error every step of the way from sourcing the wood to finding the right ink to paper type. I initially began this journey for myself, with no expectation to sell. I did it for the love of trees and to encapsulate the beauty of them - I find that these prints entomb their life onto paper - a two-dimensional relic. Once I posted a few on social media and some family and friends saw them they began to ask me for them for their homes. As I say to anyone that purchases my work - I am humbled and honoured to think that people like, enjoy and are willing to hang or gift something subjective that I create - I don't know where or when my journey will end, but I am enjoying it every step of the way, something that One Of A Kind and other markets have fermented. As I say to others interested in growing their craft in a market setting - I am gifted in knowing that this is and forever will be a passion of mine, a labour of love. I am successful and happy with my first vocation, which is woodworking - I do not need the prints to survive financially, and because of this I will never lose the initial love I have of making the prints. I think once you become reliant on something you inevitably lose those initial reasons why you started doing them in the first place.

Tell us what makes your technique One Of A Kind!

My technique is one of a kind because I am able to source uniquely distinct trees and I believe my methods and material use is unlike anything others use. I've taken my own path, as I mentioned earlier, through trial and error. I order my ink from the UK and my paper is made in Japan, a concoction that I don't think has been duplicated elsewhere. When I started experimenting with inks and paper I started in Italy, where many of the products are not available in Canada - I tested out about 20 types of ink and 30-40 types of paper. It's quite a challenge to reveal such tight grain in a clear way without smudging or getting ink spots. The combination of ink type, viscosity, thickness of ink application, evenness of ink application, the way the paper is applied and the amount of pressure used on the back side of the paper to gather the relief is all a major hurdle and one needs to get every step correct to obtain a print of the quality I want to sell.

What is your favourite aspect of being a part of the One Of A Kind community?

The maker community is incredibly tight and getting to know, support and help other makers is special!

Inspired? Click below to shop Marko Barakoski!


Follow Marko Barakoski on Instagram and be sure to come and see him and so many others at the One Of A Kind Winter Show, next week, from the 21st November- 1st December, see you there!


Would you like to have your OOAK craft showcased in this series? Click the link here to submit your entry!