A Book and New Documentary Explore the Possibilities of Ink-Making in Urban Environments
All photos by Lauren Kolyn, courtesy of Jason Logan, shared with permission
Jason Logan’s entry into ink-making started with a black walnut tree he encountered while biking through a local Toronto park. After gathering the fallen seeds and bringing them home, he boiled the green nuts until they produced a rich brown pigment. Now nearly ten years ago, this moment became the catalyst for what’s grown into an expansive network of projects exploring the possibilities of color and foraging in the most unlikely spaces.
Logan founded The Toronto Ink Company in 2014 and began to create pigments from materials gathered around the Canadian city, including the aforementioned black walnut but also street detritus like cigarette butts, soot, and rust. The idea was to create more environmentally conscious products and extend foraging into urban environments. “You start seeking out hopeful green spaces under a highway overpass or in a back alley,” Logan said in an interview. “A rusty nail becomes a possible ink or a penny with greenish oxidation on it.”
These discoveries led to Make Ink, his 2018 guidebook for scavenging with recipes and tips on creating pigments at home. Organized by color, the 192-page volume encompasses history and science and focuses on the alchemy behind his work. The book is also the predecessor to the artist’s latest project, a feature-length documentary that delves into his harvesting and production process.
Currently screening in Canada, The Colour of Ink follows Logan as he gathers organic and human-made substances and transforms them into usable goods. Featuring artists and writers like Margaret Atwood, Kōji Kakinuma, and Heidi Gustafson (previously), the film highlights the connection to the earth and emphasizes the lively qualities of the material. “The ink I make is unpredictable. It’s fugitive. It’s on the run,” Logan says in the trailer.” “What I’m hoping to do is draw people’s attention to minute differences.”
Pick up a copy of Make Ink on Bookshop, and follow Logan on Instagram for updates on additional documentary screenings, which are likely to happen in Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, and throughout the U.S. in the coming months.