Art Maker: Daniel Chiaccio, printmaker

  • Printmaker Daniel Chiaccio creates engraved copper plates that he then uses to make paper prints. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daniel Chiaccio inks a copper plate in a studio at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daniel Chiaccio holds an inked copper plate ready for printing at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daniel Chiaccio inks a copper plate at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daniel Chiaccio peels a print from a copper plate at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence, a printing process called Intaglio. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A print by Daniel Chiaccio rests on a drying rack at    Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • “Reflection,” etching by Daniel  Chiaccio Image courtesy Daniel  Chiaccio

  • “Easy Does It,” etching by Daniel Chiaccio. Image courtesy Daniel  Chiaccio

  • “The Hollow Earth,” etching by Daniel Chiaccio. Image courtesy Daniel  Chiaccio

Published: 7/3/2019 4:59:42 PM

Printmaker Daniel Chiaccio, who lives in Easthampton but does a lot of work at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence, conjures a range of scenes with his work, from the surreal — a stream awash with tiny boats and rafts, some with lit candles perched aboard — to rustic cabin interiors. “Fortunately the medium of printmaking never gets dull and it’s been able to push me to become proficient in terms of making new work,” he says. 

   Lately Chiaccio has been using a printmaking method that makes extensive use of engraving. “I’m trying to achieve an extensive knowledge and skill set with the medium, to the point where I can predict how an image will look before printing,” he says. “I have a feeling that will take some time, though. Oh well — Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

   Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

   Daniel Chiaccio: I’m currently focusing on multiple mediums, all within the printmaking format. My preferred medium is Intaglio, a process in which an image is etched into a copper plate, then transferred onto a piece of paper, almost like a very intricate stamp. The result is always unique, and it’s an art form where the process is just as important as the product, which I love. 

   HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

   DC: I draw inspiration from places one can call home, the warmth and welcomeness it brings. Even if it’s unfamiliar to viewers, they can still find a sense of place within the image. I often have those “Eureka” moments while “thumbnailing,” the process of quickly drawing out compositions and thoughts. Somewhere in that feverish process a great concept lands, and eventually it gets turned into a finished etching.

   HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

   DC: Short answer is I don’t. There is always a point where the image appears fully rendered and polished, but even so I always feel there’s something more to be done. However, I’m more concerned with getting my concepts/ideas down before they are gone; that’s granted me this tenacity I didn’t think I had in me.

   HL: Have you ever had a “mistake” — a project that seemed to be going south — turn into a wonderful discovery instead?

   DC: Not always! Sometimes I have to scrap — literally turn a piece of copper into scrap metal — when an image goes south. When creating an etching, a whole lot can go wrong. When it does, there is a point where I can embrace the imperfection and work with it, or I decide it’s too much work and move on. 

   HL: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

   DC: Dan Black, from the amazing screenprinting company LandLand, and the illustrator Pat Perry. I admire both of them very much because of the truly incredible work they put out, but also because of how humble and hardworking they are. 

   HL: What's the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you've attended and enjoyed?

   DC: My buddy from college, Isiah Gulino, recently had a show up at Hope & Feathers in Amherst. Not only was it an opportunity to view some amazing oil paintings, but it was a chance to sort of have this mini college reunion with mutual friends. 

   HL: If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

   DC: When I was 6, I wanted to design Hot Wheels cars for a living, so probably that. Unfortunately, Mattel, the manufacturer, wasn’t ready for my cutting edge designs; too many rocket boosters in impractical places. Their loss.

   HL: Dream dinner party — who would you invite?

   DC: Hayao Miyazaki, Robert Downey Jr., Giotto, Liz and Shel, all the lovely ladies I work with, Eli, my cat (but he would have the ability to speak English), all of my friends and family, and honestly just whoever was hungry and wanted to hang.

— Steve Pfarrer 

“Before It’s Gone,” an exhibit of Daniel Chiaccio’s etchings, woodcuts and watercolors, is on exhibit at Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery in Amherst through July 27. A reception for the artist takes place Thursday, July 11 from 5-8 p.m.




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