Bud and Barbara Shark run a nationally renowned Print studio

By Jules Marie

In the tiny enclave of Lyons, Colo., you’ll find master printer extraordinaire Bud Shark and his artist-chef-wife Barbara Shark working alongside distinguished artists from the U.S. and Europe. They are the tour de force behind Shark’s Ink—a nationally renowned print studio in Lyons that has been publishing contemporary prints since 1976.

Unique among printers, Bud works side by side with artists creating lithographs of their work. His innovative printing techniques allow for the creation of visually stunning prints from drawings, etchings, woodcuts, paintings and even sculptures, as evidenced by the 3-D artistry of Jane Hammond, Red Grooms and John Buck. Many of the artists Bud works with are painters and sculptors who desire to express their art in a print medium. Bud’s inventive printing processes have garnered both him, and the artists, worldwide acclaim.
Bud was fascinated the first time he saw a lithograph, which is a process of printing using chemicals to repel ink. He realized that what appeared to be a drawing wasn’t actually on the surface of the paper. “It’s layers of color and the way the ink is in the paper and not just on the paper that fascinated me,” says Bud, who then trained as a master printer at the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico.

An Artist’s Life

The Sharks’ 35-acre sanctuary has afforded 160 distinguished artists the opportunity to work alongside Bud, while enjoying delicious meals prepared by Barbara. Her book How I Learned to Cook: An Artist’s Life is a beautiful blend of her enchanting paintings, thoughts and the recipes she’s prepared for guest artists over the past 40 years.

Artists are invited to stay with the Sharks for 10 days to two weeks. Some arrive with a suitcase full of drawings, others bring only an idea. “We usually complete printing in two weeks, sometimes longer. I just finished the last color on a complicated lithograph that’s 40-by-30 inches and required 14 colors on 12 plates,” he says.

Once the final lithograph is approved by the artist and signed, Shark’s Ink makes 30 to 45 limited-edition prints, autographed by the artist and sold. The plates are destroyed as a guarantee no other prints will be made. Many of these collaborative works have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian Institution, Italy’s Museo del Territorio Biellese and countless other venues.

Living Legacy

The Sharks’ legacy will live on at the CU Art Museum, which scored a coup when it acquired “The Sharkive”—a historically rich collection comprising 40 years of printmaking collaborations between Bud Shark and various artists. The $1.35-million acquisition was made possible by donations from art patrons.

Visit the museum’s exhibit at 1085 18th St. in Boulder.

Collaborations

Shark invites up to 10 artists each year to work with him in his studio. “We’re quite small and what makes us unique is that I’m the only master printer [doing the studio work]. The collaboration is important to me. Some printers don’t like to include artists, and in my studio I’m very open about making suggestions and guiding the print process. One-on-one collaboration is fairly rare.”

Artist Jane Hammond checks a proof at the Shark’s Ink studio in Lyons. Bud Shark works in the background. (photo courtesy Shark’s Ink)

One of these collaborators was Betty Woodman, a leading American ceramist, who worked with Shark to produce monotypes, woodcuts and lithographs of her ceramic work. She worked in 2 dimensions and painted, cut and collaged her prints to create ceramic pots on paper.

Red Grooms is a painter, sculptor, printmaker and filmmaker whose work is widely exhibited in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Grooms and Bud have collaborated for decades. In Groom’s 3-D print, “The Carriage Trade,” he captures the heart of Manhattan’s busy Upper East Side.

Another collaborator is Jane Hammond, whose “Spells and Incantations” is a 3-D, 7-color lithograph and silkscreen comprised of gold leaf, composition leaf and chine collé on three sheets of paper.

John Buck began collaborating with Shark in 1983 and has since created more than 40 lithographs.