Self-Portrait Block-Printed Bag

The original “selfie”, self-portraits have been a time-honoured form of artistic expression for generations. Let loose and try this unique project inspired by the self-portraits of famed Canadian singer songwriter (and artist!) Leonard Cohen.
Learn more below
Self-Portrait Block-Printed Bag
  • Linocut knife kit
  • Speedy-cut rubber plate
  • 4-inch hard rubber brayer
  • Block printing ink
  • Canvas bag
  • Disposable paper palette
  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper
  • Iron
  • Optional: Inking plate

How to customize a canvas bag with a block-printed portrait.

Step 1: Draw a self-portrait on a piece of paper. Use a mirror, draw from memory or from a photograph, but remember that this image will become a block print so bolder lines with less shading are ideal. Leonard Cohen’s self-portraits often included thoughts and lyrics, try incorporating objects that hint at your personality to make your self-portrait more dynamic.

Step 2: Transfer your self-portrait to a Speedy-Cut block. Remember, you’ll be printing a mirror image of your drawing. You may want to flip your drawing using a photocopier or computer program before transferring it.

Step 3: Cut out your block print with a linocut knife. Whatever is cut away will not be printed, so to create thin lines be sure to carefully carve on either side of the drawn line.


Step 4: Place a piece of paper inside your bag to prevent the ink from saturating and staining the other side when you print. Ink your stamp with a hard rubber brayer and block printing ink. Place it firmly on your canvas bag and press down on it with even pressure. Carefully lift it off to reveal your print.

Step 5: Heat set your bag before using or washing it. Once the ink has dried, place a cloth or piece of paper over your printed image and iron it on low for a few minutes. Now you are ready to hit the town with your new bag that’s as unique as you are.