Artist Jeff Palmer has many muses. Bob Ross, Pee-wee Herman, John Cleese, Kurt Cobain, and plenty more grace the walls of his Cranston studio.
His most recent muse isn’t a person, but a place: Rhode Island. Palmer and his wife have only lived in Rhode Island since 2018, but he’s endlessly inspired by it: “I’m awestruck by the amount of energy and enthusiasm and passion for not just art, but culture, food, history.”
Palmer wears quite a few hats: filmmaker, painter, graphic designer. Since November, he’s worked to capture the spirit of the Ocean State in colorful linocut prints, his current medium of choice. He revels in the visually iconic, that which immediately resonates with a viewer (Bob Ross’s perm, Pee-wee Herman’s red bowtie). The same goes for his Rhode Island prints, where Palmer employs instantly recognizable state symbols as subjects. An anchor serves as the centerpiece of one print — paired with the words “Anchored at Home in Rhode Island” — drawing inspiration from the state flag. “It was sort of my way of really digging in and becoming a little more connected with the state and saying, ‘we’re here, and we’ll probably be here for quite a while’,’’ he says.
Making a linocut, from conception to completion, can take anywhere from one hour to six. He meticulously carves the negative space of a desired image into a flexible piece of linoleum, slathers it with just the right amount of ink, sandwiches it between a piece of paper and a wooden press, and clamps down firmly to transfer the design. The product is a mirror image of the linocut stamp itself, requiring the artist to work entirely in an inverse mindset: backwards and with respect to the space that won’t take up ink in the final printing process.
Unlike one-of-a-kind art, linocut prints are infinitely reproducible, allowing Palmer to create for wider consumption. He’s found a small audience on Instagram, but looking to the future he hopes to partner with someone with business expertise to reach an even larger one. For now, he’s focusing on his Rhode Island clientele at the Providence Flea Market and Pawtuxet Farmers Market. He even sent a print of his first Rhode Island linocut to former Governor Gina Raimondo, who responded with gratitude on official state letterhead: “I will cherish this gift and all that it represents, namely our beautiful state and the incredible people who live here.” Learn more at AnchoredatHomeinRI.com.