It all started back in college.
Nothing made me happier than spending time outdoors and making art inspired by nature. It’s all I wanted to do, and soon enuf’ it took over my life. The combination of art + nature made me feel so calm, yet so stoked at the same time…
“Hiking can be meditative in the same way that carving lines out of wood can be. Waiting to reach the summit for that big view is similar to inking the block for the first time. Being able to share this feeling is my wildest dream.”
This feeling is Woosah.
Over the years we have organically grown from a closet, to a larger closet, to our first storefront, then to a bigger storefront where we currently hang daily from 11-7pm. This is also where we opened Outside Coffee Co - a vintage camper converted coffee shop parked in our garden. Come through and say hey! Coffee’s hot and we love ya.
Does WOOSAH HAVE A STORE?
Yes, the flagship store is located at 738 Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids, MI. It's our one and only store. The space is a fully functioning printshop with an etching press. Having my printshop right in the retail store allows me to share the process behind my work with friends and strangers.
WHAT IS WOOSAH?
Woosah Outfitters is a naturally inspired art and apparel brand based out of Grand Rapids, MI featuring the artwork of founder and owner, Erica Lang. The designs and drive behind Woosah revolve largely around woodcuts and the outdoors. Each design and product is hand crafted here in Grand Rapids in limited edition runs.
BUT WHAT DOES THE WORD MEAN?
Woosah is a slang word that brings a sense of inner peace, calmness and stillness when said out loud. Take a deep breath in, and exhale; that's Woosah. For founder Erica Lang there are two things that bring her Woosah: spending days in the studio carving and printing woodblocks, and being emerged in the stillness and beauty of nature.
WHAT'S A WOODCUT?
The woodcut is literally the oldest and raddest form of printmaking techniques. The process goes like this:
CARVE THE BLOCK. Carve an image backwards into a block of wood. The reason for carving backwards is because the image is reversed when printed. Many different types of wood can be used for carving, I prefer to carve MDF because there is no woodgrain which allows for cleaner lines. When carving a woodblock, the lines that are carved away are not printed, therefore you are carving the areas that you would not like to print.
INK THE BLOCK. The final carved block creates a surface that is raised (the areas you left are higher than the areas you carved away) which allows for ink to be applied with a brayer. I use oil based inks, and when printing on textiles I use Drive By Black ink by Gamblin because it dries much faster.
PRINT THE BLOCK. Once the woodblock is all inked up and looking all sorts of sexy, it can either be printed by hand by placing a piece of paper face down and using a spoon or thumb to apply pressure, or my preferred method (due to consistency and aint nobody got time for that) is using an etching press. This piece of equipment is life. It allows for different levels of pressure to be applied evenly on your substrate. Etching presses can be used for printing woodblocks and intaglio.
EDITION THE BLOCK. Once you are happy with the printed image, you can print an edition. An edition is a set number of prints that are consistent in their printing. These prints are numbered out of the total number of prints. For example if you pulled 100 prints, you would "edition" these prints 1/100, 2/100, 3/100 and so on. This allows each print to be an authentic original because there are only so many of them existing in this beautiful world, it also allows for people to know what print they have, I often get requests for a certain number in the edition. Once the edition is complete, that woodblock should never be printed in the same way, ever again in the history of forever. Whoa. Neato!
DO IT AGAIN. It's addictive, and fun.
THAT SEEMS REALLY DIFFICULT AND TIME CONSUMING, WHY DO IT?
First and foremost, because it's my favorite pass time. I enjoy the physical aspect of carving out an image; to have to work for the result makes it even more gratifying. The entire time I'm carving a block I don't really know what it looks like, sure I have an idea but inking the block up for the first time and seeing the chatter (the carved lines) and all the detail come to life feels like my birthday, every time. The technique of carving woodblocks is also chosen due to the nature of the process which creates a unique style. You can't fake a woodcut. They aren't for everyone, but they are definitely for me. If you would like to try this process out you can purchase Linoleum blocks from Hobby Lobby or Michaels, these are soft, rubber like surfaces that are beyond easy to carve. Have at it!
DOES WOOSAH FREELANCE?
We sure do. We enjoy working with clients that align with our values and vision, such as Merrell, New Belgium Brewing Co, Harmony Brewing Company, POW Protect Our Winters, etc. If you are interested in working together please reach out using the CONTACT tab on the menu bar. I do not design tattoos.