Interview by Jason Setnyk | Photo by Dana De Kuyper
Cornwall, Ontario – Stacey Case began self-publishing a punk fanzine called Rivet about thirty years ago in the early 1990s. That journey led to becoming a self-taught screen-printing artist, starting his own business Merch Guy a few years later, and providing merchandise for touring bands like The Hives, Public Enemy, and Queens of The Stone Age. Thirty years on, he’s pivoted from screen printing to manufacturing StampBlankz, carvable rubber stamps with contoured wood handles, available at Life’s Little Pleasures on Pitt St. In Cornwall, and slowly making their way across Canada, one art store (and classroom) at a time.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – Tell us about your artwork and your preferred artistic medium.
“I’m a printer by trade, and I come from the time before computers, so when I first began my zine it was Letraset, manual typewriters, rubber stamps, hand-carved linocuts, and my own illustrations. And photocopiers. I would stay up all night at Kinko’s, working on my zine. I taught myself how to screenprint when I wanted to add colour to Rivet without paying anyone. Now I am a master printer after thirty years in the trenches. While I don’t offer my screenprinting services much anymore, I certainly still screenprint! The box art for my StampBlankz packaging is designed and printed by me. I also carved the rubber stamp that is on each box. I love carving them; they’re very relaxing and very addictive. I do custom carves; you can see my work at my artist site www.handstamp.ca. I’ll be printing my own shirts for the Cornwall Stamp Company, which I registered to begin selling StampBlankz.
I’m so tired of screenprinting. After 30 years, I’ve earned the right to say that. My current preferred artistic medium is carving rubber StampBlankz. We recently moved to Cornwall, and I knew I wanted to carve again. It’s something I thought about a lot over the years, the peacefulness I used to feel from carving. StampBlankz is my solution”.
2 – Tell us about your creative process. Do you plan each piece out, or does the art take shape as you work?
“StampBlankz comes in three sizes, small, medium, and large. The medium is a small rectangle. The small is a Medium cut in half to make a small square. The large is two mediums together, creating a large square. Each size has its uses. I like carving single letters, or small stars, in the small size. Mediums are great for more detail, and the large size works for almost anything. Every artist will use StampBlankz differently. I am tattooed; I like old-fashioned designs in the first place, so most of my carves draw from the stick-and-poke tattoo world. I search for imagery on my phone and do quick sketches in my sketchbook to see if ideas will work as a stamp. Simple linework, fun to carve, and they look really great as hand stamps for events. Concert promoters from Toronto and Hamilton are using custom carves I’ve done to stamp people’s hands at their events. My art is wearable, and people don’t even know I’m on their hand.”
3 – Do people commission artwork from you, and if yes, how does that process work?
“I’m happy to do custom carves for people. Just remember – I’m an actual human. Holding carving tools in my hands. I know my limitations in this art form. I need people to understand they won’t be getting tons of detail, little tiny letters, straight lines; it won’t be for everyone, but for the people I’ve carved for, it’s perfect for them. For custom carves, email me at [email protected].”
4 – What inspires you to create art?
“The very real thoughts of either becoming blind (very bad astigmatism), or dying early (both parents did, heart attack and ALS). If I’m blind, I can’t create visual art anymore, and I can’t if I’m dead. So the time is now! It’s always been like this. It’s urgent. I feel time ticking away. I must create!”
5 – What is your favourite piece of art that you’ve created, and why is it your favourite piece?
“My current favorite piece I’ve done is probably freehand with pencil, drawing mushrooms on a StampBlankz large, and carving it for my wife’s soon-to-be-opening vintage store Wonderflea Vintage on Second Street East in Cornwall (@wonderfleavintage on Instagram). She’ll be stamping her customer receipts with it! To try out StampBlankz, get them at Life’s Little Pleasures, or see if the online store is live yet at www.stampblankz.com.”
The next screenprinting class is Saturday, January 21st, 2023, at www.mediumeffort.com in Brockville, Ontario.