Mike Lyon

PDF: MIKE LYON presentation


PDF: Mike Lyon – IMC 2017 Presentation

Mike Lyon [b. 1951] is a full time artist in Kansas City, MO who has been interested in Japanese art and culture since childhood. Lyon received his BA in Architecture and Fine Arts from the U of PA in 1973 and his BFA in painting from KC Art Institute in 1975. Lyon has served as Midwest Regional Director of Shotokan Karate of America since 1988. He became a moku-hanga student of Hiroki Morinoue in 1996. Lyon and his wife, Linda, share a stand in the second violin section of KC Civic Orchestra and have five children and three grandchildren.


I hope to show slides of selected work from two decades of my moku-hanga plus one or two short videos illustrating my process and some innovations, including my sliding humidor paper delivery and takeup. I imagine participants might be interested in seeing my studio practice and work which has been illustrated and discussed in several recent publications:

  • 2016 “Modern Printmaking” by Sylvie Covey, Random House / Penguin pages 18, 24-25, 29, 44-47, 285-292
  • 2015 “Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop” by April Vollmer, Watson-Guptill pages 130-131, 198, 222
  • 2012 Dec “Grabado y Edicion” No. 36, “Sosaku Hanga” by April Vollmer, pages 70-72, photo page 70
  • 2012 Jul-Aug “Art in Print” Volume 2, Number 2, Pages “Mokuhanga International” by April Vollmer, pages 4 – 12, photo page 5
  • 2012 Chapter 10: Mike Lyon “Post-digital Printmaking: CNC and Digital Methods” (by Paul Catanese & Angela Geary, published by A & C Black, London, 2012, soft cover, 160 pages)
  • 2009 “PRINT QUARTERLY” XXVI, Number 4, December 2009, Page 409 “Mike Lyon” 2009 July 1 “Artist’s works inspired by Japanese prints, mechanics”

Museum Permanent Collections, Selected Corporate Collections:

  • Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO
  • Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
  • Miriana Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Manhattan, KS
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
  • Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
  • Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS
  • Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Louisville, KY
  • McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA
  • Humbert Balsan Collection, New York, NY
  • New York Public Library, New York, NY
  • Dept. of Architecture, University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO
  • The Collectors Fund, Kansas City, MO
  • Consumer Growth Partners, Kansas City, MO
  • Bishop-McCann, Kansas City, MO
  • Inergy, L.P., Kansas City, MO
  • Barkley, Kansas City, MO
  • Emprise Bank, Wichita
  • UMB, Kansas City,

    Artist’s Statement:

Mike Lyon’s work is not digital art. Lyon is a pioneering figure in the emergent field of post-digital printmaking and graphics. [The first major study of the subject, Paul Cantanese’s and Angela Geary’s “Post-Digital Printmaking: CNC, Traditional and Hybrid Techniques,” was published in 2012 and devotes an entire chapter to Lyon.] Combining traditional art materials and techniques with automated machine tools and digital technology from the realm of industrial manufacturing, Lyon has developed innovative processes for making his images.

Although the path along which his visual ideas travel from conception to realization is strikingly inventive, the materials and techniques he uses to realize their final form are centuries old. Lyon’s pictures are made with ink and paper, printed from wood blocks and copper plates, or drawn with a pen. They are not output from inkjet printers, displayed on monitors, or projected on screens. It is his use of digital processes in the service of creating images wrought by analogue means that defines Lyon’s work as post-digital.

Printmaking is, by nature, a hybrid activity. Printmakers have always adapted the latest technology to existing traditional studio practices. Lyon’s use of digital technology and robotic machinery is brilliant, masterful, but judicious. He is not seduced by the gee-whiz-bangness of the tools he employs, the uses of which are always subservient to his art. Lyon’s machines operate with his proxy. His instructions determine their every move along the X, Y, and Z axes and result in an expressive gesture distinctly his own.

Lyon’s contributions to the field of post-digital printmaking and graphics revolve around his use of a CNC (computer numerically controlled) router. Computer coded instructions direct the router’s bit along the X (length), Y (width), and Z (height) axes as it carves out designs from a sheet of wood on the machine’s bed below.

Lyon’s idea was to adapt the CNC router to carve blocks for his woodcut prints. First, he developed procedures to extract information from digital image files and convert it into a language the CNC router understands. With this code the artist can program the CNC router to carve blocks to his precise specifications. Though digital technology is used to create the wood blocks from which Lyon’s images are printed, the prints are made using the centuries-old method of printing ink on paper under pressure using a press or other means. In this way, Lyon’s prints are said to be post-digital.

– Bill North, director, Salina Art Center