Bid on a Pokey LaFarge Etched Wood Print by Photographer Nate Burrell

St. Louis-based photographer Nate Burrell is offering a chance to bid, via silent auction, on a small run of 10 limited edition prints featuring musician Pokey LaFarge. The photo will be delivered as an etched wood print, which you can see above, and will be signed and numbered by Burrell and LaFarge.

Bidding ends on Sunday, November 22nd. 10% of the proceeds will be donated to Cherokee Street Reach, a non-profit organization in St. Louis. More details can be found here.

LaFarge released Something in the Water via Rounder Records earlier this year.

We recently caught up with Nate Burrell over email to discuss the project.

How did you and Pokey meet, and when did you decide to collaborate on this project?

Pokey and I met in 2009 not long after I moved to St. Louis, through a mutual pal who also was kicking around in the South City St. Louis music circles. At the time, he was playing with the South City Three (who still is part of his larger band), and I ended up shooting a couple shows, as well as doing some away from the stage shots and some photos for their European tour. Since then, we’ve kept up with each other and worked on projects when time permits. I was their official photographer for the Central Time Tour and now we are doing this limited edition etched wood print, which is something I’ve been learning and working on throughout this past year.

Tell me what was going on when you took the photo.

The original photo that this wood print comes from was taken during the recording sessions for Pokey’s current album, Something In the Water. He was in a studio here in St. Louis working out some tunes that he was considering putting on wax…and this was taken on the last of 3 days I spent with him and the band in studio. What you see in the print was a break in a vocal session, and he was listening to play back and communicating with the producer who was in the control room adjacent to where we were at.

Photographer Nate Burrell | Photo by Glies Clement

Describe the process of creating an etched wood print.

This etched photograph process I have been working on and learning is a mix of photography and technology and just working with your hands. My good pal, Peat Eyez at 2222 Art Studio (in STL), is who I’ve been learning this from. He does etchings on all kinds of surfaces from stencil work and design that he is very well known for…and one day we were sitting in our studio headquarters and I was like, “we should try etching one of my photos onto wood blocks.” A few days later, after a hand full of tries and misses, we figured it out and started honing in on the process of how to effectively maintain the qualities and details that the photograph offers, but printing it on an alternate surface.

But basically after cutting and sanding the wood, the process is that you take your film scan, digital file or whatever and strip it down to all blacks, whites, and greys. You edit the image based on those 3 tones…and try to create a nice stark contrast. After that, you make a few personal choices about how you want the image to grab the viewer, and then run it through the computer box and into a laser, which etches the print. You then make any needed adjustments and re-etch a new piece until you have it just the way you want it. When the print is done, you use a soft bristle brush and some soap to clean the residue off the print. Then, I choose to put a clear coat poly on it for protecting it from dust and whatnot.

What else would you like bidders to know about this project?

A couple cool things about this print: there are only going to be 10 of these sold through this auction, so it’s a fairly rare collector’s item. I made a few artist proofs for future art shows, gallery exhibits, etc, but the 10 we are etching for this silent auction are the only wood prints of this photo that I will ever sell. They will all be numbered and signed by Pokey and me. And once these 10 are gone, this wood print will never be reproduced again.

Another worthwhile point of note is that 10 % of all of the sales from this auction will be donated to help the efforts of Cherokee Street Reach, which is a non profit group that is helping out kids and strengthening community involvement within the area of St Louis that Pokey and I have studios, where we each live, and where we meet up with our circles of friends. The folks at Cherokee Street Reach help to build relationships amongst various folks in the community through education, collaborative creative projects, and various other activities to help build a more mindful and interactive neighborhood.


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