Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Printsy Interview - Decaying Industries


Brief Bio
My name's Kat and I hail from Cleveland, Ohio, although I was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. I've been creating various things ever since I could first hold a crayon. Aside from printmaking, I also make 1" pins and enjoy drawing, painting, playing music, sewing, and soap-making, to name just a few hobbies. I've also recently gone back to college and am working on a degree in electrical engineering. On the plus side, taking courses like calculus and chemistry gives me lots of fresh ideas for artwork, but it also means I rarely have enough free time to do anything about it.

How did you get started in printmaking?
My art is usually heavily linear. A friend of mine who has a lot of experience in printmaking, mainly woodcut and lino, had been suggesting for years that I try out some form of printmaking since my style is pretty suited to it. In the summer of '08 I finally decided to try it out and got hooked pretty quick.

Describe where you work.
I share a 500-square-foot apartment with another human being, so I don't have a lot of space. Most of the time my linocut supplies live in a box on a shelf. I do a lot of the cutting on top of an old "Fundamentals of Mathematics" textbook, so I don't scratch up any furniture. I print everything by hand on top of an old wobbly $10 IKEA table.

What's your favourite printmaking process?
Lino! Linocut really seems to be the most natural medium for me, maybe more so than drawing or painting. I've given woodcuts a shot, but haven't had much time to do as much as I'd like with it. I also have some past experience with screenprinting and stenciling, mainly to make t-shirts and album covers. I still come back to screenprinting and stenciling from time to time when I want something either more detailed or more easily mass-produced than linocut allows for.

What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
Most of my prints are planned out in advance. It's not rare for me to spend more time on the initial drawing than I do cutting the linoleum. I do like to do free-form, unplanned linocuts just to loosen up. The robot in my "Goldenes Spielzug" print was done without any previous drawing. Plus, the ad-libbed stuff is a good use for the oddly-shaped pieces of linoleum I end up with after the more premeditated cuts.

What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
There's something magical about seeing a print design actually set down on paper after you've spent so much time working on it without really being able to see what it looks like. Even a well-planned linocut is going to have a degree of randomness to it, and that's what I enjoy the most. As much as I anticipate the results of a particular cut, it's never exactly how I pictured it in my mind.

What's your least favorite part of the process?
Having to wash out everything afterward. I can't even tell you how many colors I've dyed the sink!

What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
The general post-industrial atmosphere of the two cities I've spent most of my life in, Tacoma and Cleveland, is my number one influence. Most people probably find things like abandoned factories and boarded-up buildings an eyesore, but I can't help but find an unorthodox beauty in my surroundings. Even something as mundane as the radiator in my apartment seems worth documenting artistically to me. I'm also influenced by late 19th and early 20th century commercial art. The effects artists achieved via etching and pen and ink before photographic reproduction was easily affordable are incredible, and have a lot of relevance to printmaking. I also have a thing for Soviet constructivism, but I don't know if that really shows itself in what I create. My final influence comes from my life as an electrical engineering student. As I mentioned before, I like making prints based on mathematical or scientific concepts.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
Considering I've been creating linocuts for less than a year, things probably haven't changed too radically. I suppose I'm more willing to make multi-block cuts now, and also less afraid of color.

How do you get past creative slumps?
I'm terrible at getting over slumps, though my main problem is simply not having enough time to get the ideas I have down on paper or lino. Generally, when I've been away from printing for a while, I try to develop a very simple "practice" print before I do anything else to help myself get refreshed.

How do you promote your work?
Yet another thing I never find time for! I try to post what I make on flickr and keep my etsy listings updated. Occasionally I'm involved in an art show here in Cleveland, but those are few and far between and mainly when I'm invited to show work.

Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Don't worry about whether other people will understand your work or whether or not you have $500 in fancy equipment. A run of 10 prints in one color of ink on typewriter paper is much more rewarding than having 1,000 copies of something printed at Kinko's.

No comments: