The CSS Awards - Site of the Day

Interview with Bob Tomolillo

Allison Malecha





Bob's pieces are JUXTAPOSED with "Elizabeth's Rule" by Mary Moore, "En Plein Air" by Peter Cooley, "Juniata, 1942" by Thomas Patterson, "Superimposition: Romanian Folk Dance No.3: Pe loc (1915)" by Jeremy Allan Hawkins, "Superimposition: L'Avventura (1960)" by Jeremy Allan Hawkins, "Pun Poems (5): Sell Liberation of Word's Worth" by Changming Yuan, and "Section 5 from The New Arcana" by John Amen & Daniel Y. Harris.




AM: How did you get a start as a lithographer? Tell me more about the process. It is a very old practice—how do you keep it current?

RT: I was introduced to the process by a well known Lithographer named Paul Maguire who worked at Impressions workshop in Boston. Paul’s physical appearance was disarming; with his large frame, long hair and beard, he possessed  a kind of outlaw biker look that fascinated me and erased the preconception that making art was not a valid vocation for a young man to pursue. Soon after our meeting I volunteered at the shop just to be a part of the magical atmosphere. At the shop, I eventually worked as a printer for Bob Townsend and then for Piet Clement in Amsterdam, Holland where I was able to hone my skill as a lithographer.  


The print explosion of the late sixties created the demand for original prints prompting artists to flock to the print houses to work with master printers. Purchasing a bona fide original print was then and still is an inexpensive way to collect art. Lithography was invented around 1792 but the basic technique remains an integral component in the printing methods of today. Lithography can be thought of as being one of the most recent techniques for reproduction that allowed for a more fluid and direct expression of the hand drawn line, replete with the ability to overlay colors, and as time went on to integrate photographic  techniques into the process. Today's understanding of lithography is often clouded by the terminology. High speed offset lithography and nano lithography are all variations of the original technique. Lithography is perfect for my hand drawn imagery. The use of the grease pencil on the surface of the limestone is quite unusual but its effects render controlled lines with infinite tonal possibilities.


AM: Describe your artistic style.


RT: I am at odds with the definition of style. I let others define what I do. I can say, however, that I attempt to make art that is conceptually sound and well crafted. The tools that I use and the surface that I draw on has a lot to do with my style but I believe that any outward or conscious attempt to create a personal style especially for a young artist is, anathema to the creative process.


AM: Is this your first collaboration with a literary venue? What intrigued you about the idea? About Cavalier Literary Couture in particular?


RT: I have contributed my artwork to several publications in the past. It seems that my imagery has certain narrative qualities that can be loosely translated. I am interested in the similarities between my artwork and my creative writing and have discovered that many of the literary magazines are attempting to integrate artwork into their venue. It represents yet another creative tool that the publication can use to inspire their audience. I think the editors at Cavalier accomplished an important first task of creating an eye catching and provocative web page and are taking a serious approach toward the difficult task of matching up visual imagery with the printed word.


AM: Where do you usually draw inspiration from? Have writers influenced you in the past? Which ones/how so?


RT: I am inspired by many things in my life but as I get older ; next year being my 60th year, I realize that inspiration cannot develop into creativity without the benefit of having good health and happiness. The act of creativity is in itself a joyous expression of what it means to be human.


Most of the books that I read are non-fiction. I read mainstream books on politics and some “art “ related books like “The Forgers Spell” by Edward Dolnick or “Murder in Amsterdam” by Ian Baruma, a true account of the murder of Theo Van Gogh.


An obscure, but inspirational text that I read recently was Kandinsky’s, Concerning the Spiritual In Art. A few simple phrases from that treatise prompted me to write an essay about “Branding” and the young artist, for Visual Overture Magazine, that will be included in the August issue, as well as a short story that was published recently in The Subterranean Literary Journal, titled Abstract Composition #2.


This morning, I began reading William Dubois’ “The Souls Of Black Folk.” It was a logical successor to the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass which is rightly placed in a distinct category among great American literature for its elegant prose and clarity of thought and given its historic significance was without exception the most powerful book that I have read.



                        Allison Malecha is a Summer Associate. The lithograph above (by Bob Tomolillo) is titled "Acirfa."

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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