Credit: Jack Hornady

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The Afflicted: Jose Dominguez, 37, new executive director of Silver Spring paper arts and bookmaking center Pyramid Atlantic.

Diagnosis: Dead-tree disinterest. Since getting the new gig, Dominguez has been tasked with recasting the medium for modern audiences. Though he notes that he’s now working in “very traditional art forms that have been around for thousands of years,” his own printmaking history is brief. “My background is in the theater,” says Dominguez. “The difference between them is like night and day.”

Symptoms: Putting a new stamp on an old print can prove tricky. “I’m only the second executive director in the center’s 27-year history,” says Dominguez. (Founding director Helen Frederick stepped down last year.) As a result, “people have all these preconceptions about what Pyramid Atlantic is.” Dominguez has battled the stigma against printmakers: “A lot of people think of our artists as that weird guy in the beret who you see hanging out against the wall at the party,” he says. Then there’s his outfit’s name. “Sometimes, when I introduce Pyramid Atlantic to people, they think it’s an insurance company,” says Dominguez.

Treatment: First, learn to distiguish a print from a proof. “I had to take a crash course in printmaking 101,” Dominguez admits. “I had never made a print before. I had never made paper.” Then, improvise. As Dominguez tries to push paper through more accessible off-shoots like graphic design, cartooning, and screen-printing, he’s found his stage presence helps. “A while back, I had to sell some prints,” he says. “It’s good that I had a theater background, because some stuff, I just had to make up. I was glad that the person I was talking to knew even less than I did.”

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