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Charles Buchanan, an Alabama native, works as a magazine editor in Birmingham. He has been drawing and cartooning since childhood, but his frequent travels inspired him to experiment with photography. With block printing—a technique he learned in the fourth grade—Charles reinterprets photos of his destinations, Birmingham, and the South, transforming them into bold graphic designs that highlight unique icons, bring new life to overlooked details, and exude a sense of place.

Every block print begins with an interesting photo, which Charles reduces to line art with a computer and tracing paper. He rubs the back of the paper to transfer a backward image of the picture onto a rubber block. Then, using various metal gouges, he carves away every part of the image he does not want to print. Finally, he rolls ink onto the block and presses paper on top of it to create the print. Because each piece is printed individually and by hand, no two prints are ever exactly alike.

Now that he has around 120 carvings, Charles also enjoys layering, mixing, and “ghosting” the images to create one-of-a-kind pieces that feel vintage and modern at the same time. He often finds inspiration in classic advertising and letterpress posters as well as the faded painted wall signs seen in downtown Birmingham.

Charles regularly exhibits at Naked Art Gallery and Artwalk in Birmingham. He also currently has work at Cherie’s Eklectika in St. Petersburg, Fla., and he is featured on the current season of the HGTV show That’s Clever!



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