Sunday, January 23, 2011

Interview - Melissa Hill

Check out Melissa's Etsy Shop and her Blog


I am a mom, an entrepreneur, an artist, an environmentalist, and a healer.   My inspiration as an artist comes from my connection with the world around me, nature, kids, daily life.  I try to explore the both the beautiful and the whimsical in life because I think that beauty and laughter are great healers.   

Living in Michigan I have watched as the car companies failed, leaving joblessness and huge tracts of damaged land in their wake.  I believe that we must be the change we want to see in the world, so in my small way I try to counteract the damage.   I’m always looking for sustainable or recycled materials to work with, and I live a simple life.  My kids, my garden, and my creativity are my focuses. 

Why printing?  

I love the hands on quality of it.  I love carving away bits of linoleum and revealing something new and unique in something so simple.  I like knowing that I control the process, the materials, the outcome and that I can share my art and my vision in a way that is a little more affordable and approachable than say, oil painting.

What is your favorite print medium and why?

I would have to say linoleum block printing is my favorite, since that’s what I primarily work in.  It’s very affordable to get started with, and easy to get access to.  I started printing using a rock from Lake Huron as my baren and the cheapest brayer I could get.  I’ve moved on and gotten better equipment, but sometimes I still go back and use my lake rock to burnish a print.  I’m hoping to try out other printing mediums soon.  I’ve got plans to try wood carved blocks and I’d love to give intaglio a try too!  

How long have you been printing and how has your work evolved?

I’ve been printing for about 2 years now.  I started out carving little dollar store erasers to make stamps to play with.  I’ve come a long way from there and read a lot of books on printmaking.  My hand control of the carving process has really increased, and I think a lot of that is just strengthening the muscles.  I’m also really exploring the use of negative and positive space in my images more.  

What or Who influences your work?

My prints come from my life, and from my internal life, my inner world if you know what I mean.  I’m a stay at home mom and a lot of what I do explores how beauty, and love, and the mundane intersect.  It’s often a very whimsical, fairy tale place for me.

Gwen Frostic is an idol of mine.  Her work is so lovely, so evocative of place, of Michigan.  I love her block prints so much.  When bored teenagers ask that question, “What dead person would you talk to if you could talk to anyone?”  I would answer, “Gwen Frostic.”

How do your promote your work?

On the internet I have my blog, which I really enjoy. working on, creating tutorials and sharing what I do.  There are so many supportive people out there in the blogosphere, it’s just amazing.  I also have joined some Etsy teams, and I’ve really learned a lot from the people there.  I’m continuing to explore social media like Facebook and Twitter, though I’m still in the learning process there.  

In the real world, I’m finding a lot of outlets for my work, which is really exciting.  I’m part of an up and coming local gallery, The Old Town Underground, and I’ve been using word of mouth to drum up some custom orders.  It feels really good to be able to talk about my business and what I do.   I’m excited about it, and I think people pick up on that.

Any good printing tips or funny printing stories (or both??)

If you’re going to use a rock to burnish a print, make sure it’s very smooth and don’t rub too much in the same place or you’ll tear through the paper, which is never a good sign. 

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