Laurel Schwass-Drew grew up in the rowhouse neighborhood of Hunting Park in Philadelphia, watching various family members create art and craft, sew and build/repair furniture, machinery and fixtures. Later, unearthing images of antique printing presses and learning more about how to fix and move presses rekindled a desire to document this hand-operated equipment.
These experiences have aided her greatly in the development of her current interests, textile screenprinting and other forms of printmaking; as well as in her position as Senior Lecturer and Shop Supervisor in the Printmaking and Book Arts department at UArts. She has also been a freelance screenprinter and intaglio contract edition printer on the local level.
Past activities include doing performance art in experimental costumes made of surface constructions with found materials, which then morphed into doing installations.
Laurel has successfully marketed her own line of T-shirt designs since 1989 and has of late been placing emphasis on that particular pursuit.
For a number of years, I’ve employed a practical, nuts-and-bolts approach to printmaking. A thematic concern running through my work has also been about the use and nature of the human body and its interaction with art materials, not just statically but actively as well.
Recently I have resurrected my dedication to doing “Art on a Shirt,” rather than straight-up fine arts printmaking, or formal art-gallery exhibiting of same. My job responsibilities keep me very busy, so I have found that the “quick and dirty” weekend warrior approach to putting images on a garment works best for me. Additionally, I like exploiting the democratic nature of printing a T-shirt for the public to affordably enjoy, utilizing both brick-and-mortar and online marketing outlets. It is very immediately satisfying to me to see people wearing my designs, and this continues my interest in covering and decorating the human form.