Our latest Artist You Need To Know is George Walker: he’s a Canadian artist and writer best known for his wood engravings and hand printed fine press book works. Internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman, with whom Walker has collaborated, has stated that “the delicacy and intelligence of George Walker’s print-making seems to have come to us from a bygone age.”
While still in high school, George Walker trained as a letterpress printer, building on these skills when he attended college. A graduate of Ontario College of Art (1983) and Brock University (B.Ed, 1996), Walker then earned an MA (Ryerson and York University) in Communication and Culture.
Since 1985, Walker has been an associate professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, focused upon book – related arts (but has also offered classes and mentorship in this area to many Canadian printmakers and writers at numerous other venues). His educational work is but one facet of Walker, as he’s been the “graphic novel acquisitions editor for The Porcupine’s Quill, an independent Canadian publishing company, and a creative director at Firefly Books. Walker is a member of the Loving Society of Letterpress Printers and the Binders of Infinite Love and the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. In 1985, he founded Columbus Street Press with his wife, Michelle Walker.” (from here)
Walker’s medium is wood engraving, and his evocative scenes, sometimes stark, sometimes gentle, are usually presented in graphic novels that eschew dialogue for visual narratives. Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward and Laurence Hyde are all influences on Walker’s aesthetic, as they have all created “wordless novels” in similar wood engraving processes. Walker features each of these artists in one of his own publications: Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels.
Several notable works by George Walker include: Book of Hours (2010) which is a series of 99 engraved prints, where the images focus on the workers who lost their lives during 9 / 11, specifically focused upon those that died in the World Trade Center attacks; The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson (2012) which employs 109 prints exploring the still mysterious death of Canadian artist Tom Thomson; The Life and Times of Conrad Black (2013) offers the narrative of the “imprisoned former newspaper tycoon Conrad Black. The story traces Black’s life from being a wayward student at Upper Canada College through his career, felony conviction, imprisonment and ultimate final release” in 100 wood engravings in a “wordless biography.” (from here)
A more complete bibliography of Walker’s publications can be explored here.
From Porcupine Quill , which offers a significant amount of information about Walker’s work: he “is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist and author…His artworks are held in collections ranging from the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York City and he has had over 15 solo exhibitions as well as been included in more than 100 group shows. Among many book projects—both trade and limited edition—Walker has illustrated 2 hand-printed books by internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman. Walker also illustrated the first Canadian edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, both published by the Cheshire Cat Press. The Cheshire Cat Press is a partnership between Andy Malcolm and George Walker which continues to publish limited edition books featuring the writing of Lewis Carroll.”
His impressive accomplishments in Canadian Book Arts merited his election to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2002. Walker is also a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto; a solo exhibition of his prints and books were exhibited there in 2019.
Much more about George Walker’s prolific career can be seen at his own site and various groups and institutions that he’s worked with, including Porcupine Quill Press, OCAD University, Cheshire Cat Press and Biting Dog Press.