Diego Lasansky

March 1, 2019

Having over 50 prints displayed around the world is what some artists only dream about, but for West alum, Diego Lasansky ’12, it’s a reality. Toying around with pieces of copper as a toddler, Diego has been surrounded by printmaking all his life.

“I really started creating art when I was about 11 or 12, and I started creating art in a family setting. I have so many family members that are artists that my interest in art came from being around that,” Diego said.

Today, Diego is a respected printmaker in the art world, but it was only eight years ago that he was in a chair in room 158. The West High Art room taught by Christian Aanestad.

“When you have talented kids like Diego in class you utilize their talents,” Aanestad said. “Diego had a background in printmaking, so he helped us as a class make some refinements.”

To pursue his dream as an artist, Diego graduated early. Only spending three years in the art room at West, he gained an artistic taste by holding an art show in the library and collaborating with his peers.

“Taking classes with Christian was a lot different for me,” Diego said. “It was my first time being with other people my age creating art.”

The Lasanksy family has deep connections at West High: Tomas Lasansky, Diego’s uncle, graduated in the mid-1970s, and Phillip Lasansky, Diego’s father, has a close friendship with Jerry Arganbright, former principal of West. As a retirement present for Dr. Arganbright, Phillip donated Mauricio’s, Diego’s Grandfather and art influencer, prints to the school and to Dr. Arganbrights personal collection. These prints can be seen in the main and ninth grade offices.  

Phill runs the Lasansky Corporation Gallery, selling prints and sketches of their family’s artwork. The Gallery is located downtown and is connected to the family studio.

“Not being an artist like my brothers or Diego, … all of those [careers] are independently minded things, you kind of march to your own drummer,” Phillip said.

In a household filled with printmakers, Tomas taught Diego as a child to translate his doodles onto an etched piece of copper layered with ink. This process known as Intaglio printmaking originated in Medieval European, and the family has mastered the technique throughout the 20th and 21st century.

“It’s all done with oil-based inks, and so you print it and you can’t touch it right, … it needs time for the pores in the oil to dry,” Diego said. Usually, Diego’s prints can take up to ten days to dry.

Intaglio printmaking requires days of work, and it forces Diego to practice his craft in his studio from sunrise to sunset. The process of layering ink and waiting for it to dry is repeated many times until the print is fully colored.

“I sort of feel really guilty … if I go a couple days and haven’t really worked at all,” Diego Reflected on his schedule.

As a child, Diego collected books, so he can perfect his printmaking. In retrospect, teenage Diego was always at the downtown art studio copying and reading pages of art books.

“What I found that the internet couldn’t give me was … you can’t find all those pieces online,” Diego said.

Books about Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Goya and many other influencers lie in a mammoth of a bookshelf in a spacious art studio, located downtown Iowa City, originally bought by his grandfather in the 20th century.

“He (his grandfather) made about 500 to 1000 prints, and the exact number honestly I can never figure out because it’s changing,” Diego said as he walked curiously through his grandfather’s gallery of eclectic prints.

At the age of 21, Diego’s hard work in his studio made a splash in the art world by being featured in Wartburg College to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation. The pieces are known as Martin Luther print edition 1-50.

His current project, Japanese Samurai Sketch attire, is slowly chipping away on the top floor of the Lasansky Downtown Art Studio. With the only use of a pen, Diego scratches textures on a large black and white sketch of a Japanese man in his formal attire. He hopes to finish the sketch collection of 16 pieces, which will allow him to tour the artwork around the world.

Diego still lives in Iowa City, and holds a reputation as a respected artist; he hopes to innovate the art scene.

“It’s fairly easy to sort of be in a town like Iowa City,” Diego said. “You know that [it] has such great art and culture.”

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