From an early age Killion was drawn to making landscape prints using linoleum and wood. While studying at UC Santa Cruz, he was introduced to fine book printing by William Everson and Jack Stauffacher. He found that these two niches fascinated him, could be combined creatively, and never failed to inspire him. In 1977, he founded Quail Press after traveling extensively in Europe and Africa. His sketchbooks and travel journeys in these countries provided the basis for many fine works (as can be seen on his website).
Killion carves his images into cherry, all-shina plywood, Amsterdam linoleum, and other block materials using Japanese hand tools. He prints his images on handmade Japanese kozo papers using oil-based inks and a German hand-cranked proofing press. He relates the labor-intensive details of how he moves from concept to completion on his website and it makes for fascinating reading! His skillful blending of oriental style with Western and African themes and craftsmanship has developed a unique and compelling body of work.
The artist’s limited editions frequently sell out and he produces monotone as well as multicolored images, and has produced or illustrated numerous handmade books. Many of these master works are in rare book collections of major libraries.
Tom Killion has a snail mail list you can join. What a thrill for me when a card arrives with one of his new images! Check this artist out—you’ll be glad you did.
In the meantime, I’m wishing everyone all art all the time in 2010—
-- Rosemary Carstens
(Images: top, City from Yellow Bluff; left, Bolinas Ridge; right, Tom Killion)