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The 10 Year Rehearsal.
Adventures from the first decade in our art studio

Last week I realized its been 10 years since we first hatched Rehearsals Rehearsals – our print studio, brand, and online store selling art, pins, and screen prints. How had 10 years crept by so quickly? Had we accomplished everything we set out to? Could the concept survive in this new world? Can’t look forward without looking back…


ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A BOY

When I noticed that Mark Bennett was sketching ideas for his own font at Hava Java (a very beloved but now defunct St. John’s cafe), I pulled up a chair. We had met once before at an art fair where he had been selling some of his designs – I figured anyone nerdy enough to be designing their own font was my kind of people and I was destined to make a new friend this day.



One of the only photos I have of Mark and I.
No idea why we’re making that face.

Mark was working at a t-shirt shop called Living Planet, and showed me the basics of screen printing one evening after work. It wasn’t long before we had ideas on making posters for bands. We built a vacuum table using plans he had found online. The website GigPosters.com was still raging back in 2009 and there was a lot of inspiration on that site which pushed us to try our hands at printing posters. If I remember correctly, our first was for Bahamas in 2010, a tour poster for his Hockey Teeth in Canada Tour.


It wasn’t long before we had designed and printed a few more and felt we had discovered a fun and exciting new past time. We batted around a couple names for our partnership, Mark’s first suggestion was ‘Rehearsals Rehearsals’. His favourite band was (maybe still is) The Clash, and my favourite song of all time is “London Calling” – in the late 70s the England based band had a studio called “Rehearsal Rehearsals”. Bands used the space to record, jam, hang out, party, etc. It was a tiny, dingy converted room in a brick building of horse stables, but it was also the birth place of some of our favourite music. While the original studio was long gone (the building has been turned into high end boutiques today) the name would get a second life with us in Newfoundland.


The door to The Clash’s O.G. Rehearsal Rehearsals

Mark had a downtown art studio in St. John’s that he shared with oil painter John McDonald, wood/textile artist Jessica Waterman, and fine-artist Philippa Jones. We printed some of our earliest projects after hours there – we didn’t own any proper drying racks so we’d have to go in when the other artists were gone home as we needed as much space as possible to lay prints to dry…. this got out of hand real quick, first laying prints on tables, then the floor (dirty!), and finally we tried wiring up string throughout the studio to hang posters like clothes on a line. Neither of these setups were efficient – but they got us through until we could afford to buy proper drying racks.

In 2011, Mark and I launched the first web store, but there wasn’t much on it. We didn’t promote the site anywhere as it would have seemed kind of silly to try and drive traffic to a store that only had a half dozen things for sale. We had it in our heads that until we had 50 items we shouldn’t advertise or push Rehearsals too much. This was going to be a slow burn, we weren’t in a rush.

A year or so later Mark moved to Toronto – I think he wanted to join the Raptors, but instead became a background dancer for Drake (not true). We continued working together on websites and other design projects, but the dream of taking over the screen printing world together was now impossible. Luckily, I was able to assume the rent on his art studio so that Rehearsals Rehearsals would remain in the same home, where it still is today.


STUDIO LIFE/STUDIO WIFE

My fiancee, graphic artist/illustrator/surface pattern designer, Krista Power, jumped in and became the other half of the Rehearsals Rehearsals team.


A goth/emo photo of us taken in our backyard.
We’re much happier than this in real life.

She has been at my side (and I at her’s) for almost every print project since Mark moved – we tried our hands at all sorts of experiments including screen printing one of her wallpapers (hit up Krista if you want amazing wallpaper!), notebook covers, and printing on alternate surfaces like wood, some that worked out, some not so much.

Krista’s Dad built us a slick new vacuum table and we moved things around in the studio over and over again always looking for better work/hang flow. We set up a projection screen and stereo system with all our studio mates so we could watch movies between print jobs. Late night parties were the norm and the studio very quickly was being used more for social reasons than work, but that was A-OK as it was a creative space and there were no real boundaries on what you could do there. The studio had been a bit of a social hub long before we moved in, so we were excited to be part of this exciting community. Local crews we were associated with like GirlsRockNL, Lawnya Vawnya, and thedesigners, all started having meetings there. Bands like Soap Opera and Repartee filmed music videos in the space, and Run To The Rocks recorded one of my favourite albums ever made in Newfoundland over a couple evenings in our studio. Paper Beat Scissors, Wunderstrands, and Cafeteria hosted intimate concerts after hours… people popped in all the time, sometimes to work, sometimes just for chats or a beer.

John, Jessica and Philippa all had experience with screen printing earlier in their careers, so we had mentors in our space to guide us through all the growing pains. I learned new things from them every time I was in the studio, John helped me get a grasp on mixing colours… he’s a master at that (and so much more). We leaned a lot on local artists Jon Keefe (Pink Eye Prints) and Kym Greeley for advice on printing as well – they helped us work out many bugs in our system and shot all our screens (Thanks guys!) since we hadn’t invested in an exposure unit or proper screen cleaning station. I don’t know think we’d have been able to keep the prints coming if it weren’t for the help and gentle guidance of these folks in all honesty.

A couple years later John and Jessica moved out of the studio at the same time – having them not around every day has been a huge loss and we miss them both a great deal. They’re both still kicking ass making incredible art out of their new home studios and we see each other often, just not as much as we’d like.


The whole crew returning beer bottles after we’d let them build up too much at one point. From left: Ben Thwaites (Philippa’s husband), Jon McDonald, Jon’s wife Candace Fulford (also amazing artist!), Jessica, myself and Krista. Photo by Philippa.

Our friend, painter Corey Goreman moved in for a couple years. He was into giving the studio a fresh coat of paint so we all chipped in – floors, walls, ceiling, it was a nice refresh.

Currently the studio is occupied by Philippa who’s been there with us for years, visual artist Hazel Eckert, and textile artist Jessica McDonald . The sense of community is as strong as ever and I wish I had a more recent photo of the space to show you as the looms that Jessica has setup are beautiful. Of course, due to social distancing practices none of us work in the studio at the same time these days, but hoping that will change soon.

The entire building is full of artists, as you walk the halls there are art studios behind every door and over the years we’ve become close with many of those artists. Even paying rent has become something I look forward to, Colin Baird, the building’s owner and I sit and chat usually for at least a half hour every time. He is a massive supporter of the arts who could turn these rooms into offices or condos, but has kept them as studios for decades – we all appreciate him so much for doing so. He loves to talk about the art everyone is making and is an encyclopedia of St. John’s history. I love our rent sessions.

Over the years we’ve had many great friends join us in the studio to help print, so many so that I’m not going to list them for fear that I might forget one and then I’ll feel terrible – but to all of you that have come in to lend a hand, especially in the early days, we love and appreciate you so much. My parents came down a couple times and were put to work printing St. John’s/Mount Pearl Neighbourhood maps among other things – I think they enjoyed themselves and those visits have become favourite memories for me in light of my Dad’s sudden passing last summer.



Thanks to Elling Lien for these photos

The St. John’s/Mount Pearl map has been my biggest seller by far. I had seen these types of neighbourhood maps in other cities and wondered why no one had made one for St. John’s. We have so many locally famous neighbourhoods, Georgestown, Rabbitown, Mundy Pond, The Battery… but there were a lot of ‘hoods that were mostly only known to those that lived in them.

I bought a map at a gas station and started a summer of research. My travels took me in to every neighbourhood talking to folks, asking the names of each neighbourhood and what the borders were. I’d keep asking enough people in each area until the info I was getting seemed like a consensus. Most were afraid of me when I’d first approach, but once I told them what I was doing they would brighten up and stories full of neighbourhood pride would start flowing. It didn’t matter what age people were, or whether the neighbourhood was afluent or a little sketch, everywhere I went folks were very proud of where they lived and couldn’t wait to tell me their story. Krista told me that I should have taken a film crew with me as all the people I met were so amazing and their tales would have made for a great documentary.

The original map I used when researching.

By the end of the summer we printed the first edition of maps. It was July 27th, 2013, myself, Krista and our friend Josh screen printed them on the hottest day of the year. I ruined more than a few prints when drops of sweat slipped off my nose on to the screen.

It’s hard to believe, but this past weekend Krista and I printed the 10th edition of those maps. The whole arc of the map’s story has been an amazing adventure: the summer I spent researching it was wild, then the enthusiasm it received over the years since its been available, and the continued conversations I have with people as they discover it for the first time. I constantly hear stories of Newfoundlanders living all over the world that hang one in their place as a reminder of home. I’ve shipped them almost everywhere and it makes me proud every time one goes in the mail to some far away land.

CBC q host Tom Power on his Sunday evening TV show ‘What’re You At?’ featuring the map prominently in the background on every episode. Tom and I have been buddies for a very long time. We were once neighbours, we were on a team that booked a folk festival for a couple years, and he has hired me to run many a show (or design album art) for his band The Dardanelles. I hate that he lives so far away as I do miss hang time, but I’m also super proud to see him doing so well (reppin’ my art on his walls is a lovely concession prize!)

The success of the map led me down a new road in design and illustration – creating local inspired work. I had been focusing so much only on gig posters for bands, this map was the first Newfoundland piece I had considered making, but it wouldn’t be my last. Over the years I’ve created YYT luggage tag prints and pins, and posters that celebrate businesses/haunts of past, provincial architecture, and so many more. It’s been really fun expanding my illustration style while looking at creative ways to represent our gorgeous province.



MIGHTYPOP

Long before Rehearsals Rehearsals, Krista and I had started promoting concerts under the name Mightypop. Our first show was October 30th, 2008 and we’d go on to host well over 200 over the next 10 years. One awesome and unexpected bi-product that came from promoting concerts was that we became friends with a lot of the bands that came to town, and many of them then started hiring us for design and illustration work. We made posters for Elliott Brood, Said the Whale, and Bonnie Prince Billie, designed albums for Great Lake Swimmers, Timber Timbre and Dan Mangan, and websites for Good Lovelies, Hannah Georgas, and Bahamas… Not every band that came to town eventually threw us some work, but many did. Our old buddy Mark Bennett helped with all the websites, that was something he could easily be involved in while living in Toronto.


A “making of” style video of a Fortunate Ones art print we designed and screen-printed

Poster work for bands was increasing to the point that handling all the printing in-house was too much, so I started sourcing amazing hand-printers across the country that could print the posters instead of us. Over the years I’ve had my designs printed by Kid Icarus in Toronto, Cardboard Collective in Montreal, Midnight Oil in Halifax, and Pink Eye Prints in St. John’s. All of them did spectacular jobs on projects I designed for Arkells, Blue Rodeo, City and Colour, July Talk, and so many more. I couldn’t recommend them enough and want to thank them all for helping make my work look so great!

Every poster job led to the next – I designed one for City and Colour that Blue Rodeo saw, they hired me to make a poster for them, then I started designing their albums. I’ve designed 4 Blue Rodeo albums (plus 3 solo albums for Greg and Jim).

I was invited to art direct a photo shoot with Blue Rodeo (and amazing photographer Heather Pollock) at Massey Hall for a live album the band had just recorded in the historic theatre. I’d never been in the building before, not for a show or any other reason so this was a very exciting opportunity. I took the opportunity to check out every nook and cranny of the building and sat in seats on each level to get a feel for what it must be like to see a show there – it was especially exciting as I had been doing some design work for Massey Hall that same year, and I managed to find the poster series I made for them on a third floor reception room wall. My worlds were aligning, and none of this would have ever happened had I not sat down with Mark to creep his font creation process at Hava Java all those years earlier.



A photo I took of the poster series I had designed for Massey Hall, and a candid Heather Pollock took of me standing on the stage checking out the room from that vantage point, something I knew I might never get a chance to do again.

A few months later Krista and I finally did get to see a concert at Massey Hall – and thanks to the fine folks there, we had killer seats! PJ fucking Harvey no less! A great great show.


A photo Krista took from our seats – PJ is standing in pretty much the same place on stage I had.


MARKETS

A number of years ago, Rehearsals Rehearsals was invited to have a table at the annual Printers’ Fair at The Rocket Room. It was the first time Krista or I had taken part in any sort of market. We were total newbies and didn’t have all that much to sell, but went anyway. We set up our table and decorated with some printing supplies: an old screen, a squeegee, and a couple letterpress type trays. It all looked really cute, but we didn’t know if any of this would actually help make our work look sellable. Not knowing what to expect, I brought everything we had. One of each print was displayed on the table, and the remaining stock organized in a cardboard box off to the side.

A lady checked out our work, having a flip through all the posters but wasn’t paying attention to her son. Horsing around, he tripped right in front of our table, his can of orange soda flew through the air landing face down inside our box of prints. She grabbed his hand, gave me a super quick and quiet “sorry” and ran out of the room before I could even realize fully what had just happened. All the prints in that box were ruined, the soda had soaked or at least soiled hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars worth of work. Our first market was feeling like a bust.

Cleaning up, I met Graham Blair, an incredible local artist who also had a table at the fair. They took pity and helped both with the clean up, but also by passing on information on where we could buy archival quality backing boards and sleeves to protect our prints in the future. This was a game changer and we realized how much we had come off as rookies by not having our prints packaged safely in an environment where there could be running kids and cans of soda. Since that day every print we’ve sold has been packaged with the sleeves and boards Graham guided us to, and we’ve passed the info of where to find these essential materials forward to the next wave of newbies. Thanks Graham!!!

By our second Printers’ Fair we had proper packaging, and by year 3 our whole table was looking pretty slick.

Over the years we participated in a few different markets, usually heading into the holiday season as that’s when the city goes mad for them. We usually only do a couple a year as we don’t want to burn ourselves out – we have big respect for those folks who work markets week in and week out as it takes a lot of energy to be on your feet for the long hours needed to do it right. They’ve been a lot of fun, a great way for us to meet with folks, show off our latest wares, and get out the word about our little design studio. Come see us the next time Etsy St. John’s is hosting a market at Atlantic Place, we’re usually by the elevators. :^)


NO MORE WORDS

Krista had an idea: What would some of my posters look like if I removed all the words, tour dates, logos, etc and stripped them back to just the illustration. Would they stand on their own as a piece of art or do they need all that other content to be complete? I was hired to make almost all these pieces by clients, they were largely for projects that had a shelf life. A tour poster is only going to be used before and during a tour. Or a graphic promoting a music festival is no longer needed once the festival is over. Since the copyright or intellectual rights of these images belongs to me, and my clients aren’t using the images anymore, then why not see if the art could have a second use and live on for years to come as prints.

I gave it a shot and removed all the text from a few posters and loved how they looked – we started selling these at 8” x 10” size under a new series title called “No More Words”. The first year I had sixteen No More Words prints, I add a couple more every few months, and currently the series has 45 different prints. They are smaller than the original tour posters and fit well into almost any room at this 8×10 size. On occasion when someone has requested a larger version I’ve been able to print a one-off copy for them.


A one-off larger version of one of the No More Words series I recently had printed for a friend. This original art was featured on a limited edition Dirty Dancing inspired beer label for my buds at Upstreet Brewing. I’m excited that it will live on, hung in a family room in Mount Pearl. :^)

It has been really rewarding to see these illustrations live on and I’m excited by the prospect that there could be a day when there are a couple hundred ‘No More Words’ prints with the additions of new ones each year.


SLOW BURN

Rehearsals Rehearsals has been an intended slow burn. We never wanted to throw everything at it for fear the whole concept could burn out. It’s mind-blowing to look back and see that ten years has passed since Mark and I made our first screen prints. We’ve made lots of one-off items, experimented with others that didn’t work, and generally had a lot of fun creating and spending time with friends at the studio.

Krista’s line of pattern work continues to grow (check out her work on Instagram @krista_power) and we’re both spending a lot of time considering what could be next in this little art-journey.

While adding some new items to our web store last weekend I realized that we had 100 pins and pieces of art on there now. I said back in 2011 that we wouldn’t go hard promoting the site and art-studio until we were ready. And here we are in the middle of a global pandemic, it feels like it’s finally time to let the world know we’re here…

Hi World – I’m Jud, this is Krista.
For a decade we’ve been running a little design/print studio called
Rehearsals Rehearsals and we wanted to give you a wave (waving).



Pop over to our site:
www.rehearsalsrehearsals.com

(click here for more of my blog posts)


And as always, thanks to The Clash for the music and inspiration


About the Author

Jud Haynes is an illustrator, graphic designer and musician living in St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada)

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