Sunday, March 29, 2009
Printsy Interview - Julie D'Arcy
While I do have some formal artistic training, it is not my primary field. Nonetheless, art has always been a part of my life. My mother is a painter and my father a journalist and self-proclaimed ‘failed cartoonist’ so I have been creating art of some sort for most of my life. When it came time to decide what to study in school, I was torn between science and art, but in the end chose science. I obtained a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, and have worked in academic research and in biotechnology. During my time as an academician, I took some art classes from community organizations where I lived, as well as some tuition-free classes from the Universities I worked for. Amongst my mad skills are life drawing, jewelry fabrication, and intaglio printmaking.
How did you get started in printmaking?
I took a class at a museum in Rochester, NY, but only had a chance to do a couple of projects. When I first moved to New Mexico, I worked for the University of New Mexico and was able to take classes from anywhere in the University for free, so I decided to try printmaking again. The University has a wonderful printshop where I took basic printmaking from a very talented and enthusiastic graduate student. We got to do at least one project each of linoleum block printing, reductive 3-color woodblocks, etching, aquatint, soft and hard ground techniques in etching, and lithography. It was a great experience, and our instructor also showed us the beginnings of open bite techniques.
Describe where you work.
I have a small studio in my house with a huge skylight in the ceiling to let in lots of the New Mexico sunlight. It contains my computer (on which I spend far too much time), ridiculous amounts of supplies, and several drawing areas. I currently do not own my own press, but one day…
What's your favourite printmaking process?
I enjoy the three dimensional part of printmaking, which I suppose is, in principle, intaglio. I have created embossed images out of acid-etched zinc plates, linoleum blocks, and collagraph materials. In addition to those images created without ink, I am also fond of using open bite techniques to give things interesting edges.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I will usually create a fairly detailed drawing, as close to the final size as I can, that way I can transfer it directly to my plate. The ideas for a print come from everywhere. Sometimes it is nice to have some forcible inspiration, like an assignment, to get started. In the first class I took at University of New Mexico, our reductive woodblock assignment changed between the first time the instructor assigned it and the second. First she said to make a still life, then she said make it a landscape, and thus “Still Life on the Highway” was born.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
I like the multi-media approach of it. You can acid-etch metal, then manipulate it further by hand, you can carve a sculpture into a linoleum block, then you get to work with paper and ink. Printmaking lets you do a little bit of everything.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Wiping down a delicate plate! It is sooo time consuming, and allows no cheating!
Oh yes, that and building a ground on a mezzotint plate!
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I’d love to say I’m inspired by nature, but not really. I get inspired by other artists often, as well as science and just good old imagination. Some of my favorite artists are Salvador Dali, James Christensen, Daniel Merriam, Patrick Woodroffe, and Andrew Wyeth.
My subject matter varies widely, but I really love expressing the three-dimensionality of forms either in two dimensions (chiaroscuro) or in actual three-dimensions in the absence of color.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I have never had a unified style and I really don’t like to do the same thing twice. Therefore, often my work will evolve during the course of a single work.
How do you get past creative slumps?
I go back to my day job!
How do you promote your work?
I have some folks in the Forums I hang out with called the More Meaningful Gifts BNR, and the originator of that group has started a Ning Community called My Handmade Registry, where users can go and build wish lists for handmade items from Etsy. I also have a blog where I talk about unusual art media, which has a few followers. Other than that, I have not had very much time to promote lately. I have a twitter account, as well as linkreferral.com, which, when I actively use them, do seem to bring me some new traffic.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Many universities and private institutions have some great classes in printmaking that allow students to try lots of different methods without spending a lot of money. Any place where you can find a press to use to try out new things is a good thing. There is such a wide variety of techniques, printmaking is the sort of thing you never stop learning.