Monday, August 15, 2011

International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA) continues to take shape

First Ever Scratchboard Society: International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA)

Scratching, as an art form, has been around since the first people painted and scratched on cave walls. Today’s scratchboard is much more refined, allowing for intricate detail and a wide variety of styles. Scratchboard Art involves using a variety of abrasive tools to remove darker color to reveal a white layer below. Artists may leave the artwork in black and white or color it with a variety of mediums. Scratchboard Art was historically used for illustrations in the advertising and publishing industries as an alternative to engraving. It has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity, is now finding its way into fine art circles.

In recent years an International group of artists have been experimenting, pushing boundaries and honing their skills in scratchboard, working to move beyond illustrations into the creation of fine art. It was discovered that a large portion of the general public and art community had little knowledge of this medium. When entering juried shows, often show organizers do not know what category to put scratchboard art into and some would even exclude it from shows without ever seeing the work or understanding what scratchboard is capable of in the hands of fine artists.

Initially brought together through an online art community called WetCanvas, the first International Scratchboard Exhibition was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2008 with a second one held in Alamosa, Colorado in 2009. While these shows were very well received, they were not juried and not inclusive to all scratchboard artists or promoted to those that were not part of the online community.

With almost all other mediums having their own societies representing them and helping to promote their interests, it was felt that a similar society dedicated specifically to Scratchboard Art was overdue. ISSA has the goal of lifting the profile of scratchboard art internationally; providing exhibitions to showcase this art form, organizing workshops, uniting all artists working in the medium, and endeavoring to continue educating about the medium to the arts and public communities.

In July, 2010 discussions started for creating a formal society dedicated to Scratchboard Art with the aims to reach and include all scratchboard artists everywhere. After this meeting work began on the society’s bylaws, the development of a board of directors, and a lawyer is presently working with us on incorporation and the process to obtain 501c3 non-profit status. The ISSA will begin accepting members in Fall of 2011. Its web site, presently still under construction, can be found at

Membership within the society will include a variety of levels to encourage artists from novice up to professionals. Top tiers of membership and all shows will be carefully juried to encourage and promote excellence in the medium. At least one international show of scratchboard art will occur each year. In 2012 all scratchboard artists, worldwide, will be welcomed and encouraged to submit for jury to the inaugural ISSA International Exhibition of Scratchboard Art.

The Founding Board Members of the ISSA are Lorna Hannett and Sue Rhodes from Canada, Patrick Hedges from Australia, Diana Lee, Ken MacFarlane, Cathy Sheeter, and Sandra Willard from the US.

"A King On His Throne" - A Scratchboard work by founding ISSA member and artist Cathy Sheeter

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