Some Spring 2017 Design, Carve, Print work

Two-color print by Annemiek Mion

Two-color print by Yolanda Gonzalez

I have been meaning to write this post forever. Well, not forever – since April (it’s June now). Since the next session of Design, Carve, Print is about to begin, I figured it was finally time to share some work from the last session. So, today I present the work of Yolanda Gonzalez and Annemiek Mion.

 

Yolanda Gonzalez

Yolanda Gonzalez is an illustrator, photographer and designer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can see more of her work here and here.

 

Annemiek Mion

Annemiek Mion is an Amsterdam-based printmaker who screenprints on leather, creating purses, wallets and pouches. See more of her work here and here.

 

I’m looking forward to the next session of Design, Carve, Print, which begins this weekend. There is still time to sign up. More information and registration are here.

 

52 Weeks of Printmakers: Katharine Watson

Katharine Watson is a Portland-based printmaker who has had quite the international life. She grew up in London, went to high school in Hong Kong, moved to Ohio for college, and now lives and works in Portland, Maine. Her work combines monochromatic palettes with bold graphics in such a lovely, striking way, and I am pleased to feature her this week.

JH: When kids say that they want to be artists, most grownups assume that they want to become painters or illustrators (or, occasionally, sculptors) – but never printmakers. How did you find your way into this medium?

KW: I took printmaking in college when the drawing class I had hoped to take was full for the semester. I didn’t think I would be that interested (I had definitely believed the idea that being a professional artist meant being a painter) but I instantly loved linocuts. We studied many types of printmaking, from monoprints to etchings, but linocuts were my favorite and I kept coming back to them. I continued to study painting and drawing but would constantly incorporate linocuts into that work, and that’s when I realized I’d found my favorite medium. I was also always interested in textiles, and for a long time thought about pursuing textile or fashion design. When I found printmaking I realized I could combine it with my interest in textiles. It just seemed to fit my interests and aesthetic really well and I felt like I had found my niche.

 

How would you describe your work?

I work primarily with linocuts, and most of my work uses imagery that is inspired by floral patterns or decorative arts. I grew up outside of the US (I went to high school in Hong Kong) so I was always looking to other cultures for inspiration from a young age. There was something about spending time in environments that were foreign to me that has seeped into my work, and I spend a lot of time looking at traditional textiles from around the world. I love the bold patterns, repeats, and non-figurative imagery, and this has informed a lot of my work. I’m also really drawn to working with monochromatic color palettes and I love combining botanical designs with unexpected colors.

Everything I make starts with a hand-carved linoleum block, and I use those to create a variety of work. For larger projects or licensing, I will scan my prints for reproduction but a lot of my work is the original block print.

What’s the first thing you ever remember making?

I’m not sure but I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t making something. I kept a lot of sketchbooks and journals as a kid, and I was constantly designing room layouts or clothes, or sketching things around the house. I always loved to sew and started making my own clothes in elementary school. My room was a constant mess of art supplies at all times. My mom had several friends who were artists so I was lucky to be exposed to that from a young age and they would always have helpful tips to help make my 10-year-old horse drawings look more realistic.

You sell to a number of small retailers and large national ones, in addition to collaborations with the Met and Chronicle Books. How did those opportunities come about?

Each time has been different. Some of those connections have started at the National Stationery Show, which I have exhibited at for six years, but sometimes they come from random internet meetings or from people seeing my products in stores and then reaching out. Each time I get one of those introductory emails it’s so exciting; I’m always fun to hear what ideas people have to work together on and I love doing collaborative projects.

How do you balance your creative practice with the demands of also running a business?

That’s a hard one! I have to say that my creative practice usually gets pushed to the back burner when I get busy with shipping orders, catching up on emails, or working on running the business. But I have realized that the more I am creating, the more excited I am to work on new things. It’s definitely on my list of goals this year to spend time just experimenting with new mediums and styles. Right now, I have found that the best way to do it is to sign up for a class that forces me to get out of my schedule. Last year I took a painting class, a printmaking class, an Illustrator class, and a pottery class and so far that is the best way for me to get out of my routine and focus on making things. I’m hoping to focus on making new art more this year so there should be lots of new stuff coming soon!

What are you currently working on, and why?

Right now we are ramping up to design and launch our 2017 catalog and new products. That means looking over what sold well last year and what didn’t, getting pricing for new materials, and finding the right balance of new and old designs. We usually put out our new catalog in late spring so I’m busy putting together all that information now. I’m especially excited about a new line of art prints that I’m working on, and we’ll also be adding some new textiles this year that I can’t wait to reveal!

At the same time, I’m also finishing up some work on a few licensing projects and finalizing designs that will launch from other companies later this year.

Then on top of that is the day-to-day work of moving in to our new studio and keeping the business running smoothly!

Do you have a dream project (or two)?

I have so many! I’m hoping to expand my work with textiles over the next year or two. I also love working on licensing projects, and designing things that a lot of people will get to use. I’d love to design a wine or beer label because the good ones always seem like little pieces of art when they are done well. Working on a line of textiles for a major retailer would be a dream too.

What’s next?

2016 was a really busy year for me, and my goal for 2017 is just to keep that momentum going! I love having lots of different projects going on at the same time because I think it keeps me motivated, so I’d love to keep striking a good balance of wholesale, creative projects, and licensing. I just moved into a new, bigger studio so now I have plenty of space to expand, work on bigger projects, and be doing lots of things at the same time.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Take every opportunity you can! I’ve talked to so many people who are nervous to put their work out there because they think it’s not ready or not good enough, but I think the most important thing is to just go for it and share the work. No one ever thinks their own work is perfect but the best thing you can do is start sharing it, get feedback, and say yes to every chance that comes your way while you build your portfolio and get started.

I always think about the response you hear so often to modern art, that the viewer could “easily do that themselves.” And I always think, “you should!” Start working and start making art like that. So many people have talent but the real work comes in putting your work out there, staying focused and staying motivated.

What else do you want readers to know about you or your work?

Printmaking takes a lot of practice and patience! You can do hundreds or thousands of runs on a print so you’re going to be seeing the same image over and over again. I’ve also had people ask why I don’t just use laser-cut blocks, since it would be a lot faster. But the hand-carving process is such a huge part of the design and really informs my imagery and style. You can’t get the same look any other way.

How can people find you? (website, shop, Instagram, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.)

Website: www.katharinewatson.com

Instagram: @katharine_watson

52 Weeks of Printmakers: Zuza Misko

Zuza Miśko Wiskirska is a Warsaw-based printmaker and illustrator (and a former film maker). I found her work through Instagram (where I seem to find so many good things these days!), and was instantly drawn to her minimalist aesthetic. Zuza takes full advantage of block printing’s features; her use of texture and white space reminds me of traditional Japanese block prints, yet her style is thoroughly modern. I love her work and her overall style, and I think you will, too.

JH: I was really excited to learn that, like me, you are a self-taught printmaker. What were you doing before you started printmaking? And what led you to explore the medium? How does your previous life (as a filmmaker) influence your current work as a printmaker?

ZM: Both my parents are fine art painters so I used to draw and paint a lot as a kid. We all loved paper media and printed matter at home. My mother had a short period of doing linocut prints and let me try printing my own lino block when I was about six. I also helped my father in his screenprinting studio in the 1990’s and visited commercial print houses with him, as he used to supervise some offset printing as a part of his work.

At high school I got fascinated with film and I decided to study special effects and animation at the Cinematography Department of the Polish National Film School in Łodź. I loved camera gear and my professors but the studies were a bit too tough for a very young girl. I focused more on traditional and computer animation and graduated as an animation director.

After studies I worked mostly in advertising, which was pretty draining. I also directed and designed a short film for kids and produced a number of sophisticated vector artworks, which I used to sell as giclée prints. But in fact I never felt right working in  digital media. I wanted to do create material objects with my hands. So a few years ago I said sayonara to Adobe Illustrator and took to carving lino.

I think film making and printmaking have a few things in common – they are both quite mathematical in approach and require a good deal of physical effort. You have to plan in advance, be precise, get your fingers dirty and be able to improvise. In film making you have to focus on the story without being carried away with too much detail. This is a good rule in printmaking, too, and I find that the limitations of color and detail are a positive challenge and inspiration.

How would you describe your work?

Linocut prints are a medium which allow me to play with subtle nuances, such as the texture of paper or opacity of ink instead of bold storytelling. I am trying to implement some aesthetic values from Japan into my work – simplicity of form, precision of details, certain amount of imperfection. My work is focused on nature, which is my ultimate inspiration.

What’s the first thing you ever remember making?

I can’t really recall the first thing… I was always drawing or sculpting or sewing something… from miniature paintings of birds to handmade dolls and rucksacks.

What are you currently working on, and why?

I am continuing the series of animal prints. I think it is important to portray nature with art these days more than ever. My main subjects are animals which have spiritual contexts in many cultures and stir a lot of emotions – such as bears, wolves, wild goats – and are being senselessly killed by humans, based on the prejudices coming from ignorance and false myths. I am also preparing a series of floral textile patterns. It has been my dream for many years and this year I decided to stop dreaming and start doing it!

Do you have a dream project (or two)?

Yes! Many! Getting my handmade prints to be published as book illustrations. I would also love to start a small fashion line with my own textile designs.

What’s next?

More abstract forms in linocut prints. Additionally I want to explore other media such as gouache and acrylic painting in a full color palette. I have a secret hope that one day I can incorporate animation into my work again.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Experiment a lot. Don’t try to imitate drawing or painting with printmaking. Let the technique guide you, test your tools on different materials, get yourself dirty with inks. Printmakers are a wonderful, international community so go ahead and ask a lot of questions.

What do you want readers to know about you or your work?

Hmm… maybe that it takes me a lot of time to make an edition of prints. Sometimes I carve the block twice to achieve the desired result.

How can people find you? (website, shop, Instagram, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.)

I have been meeting a lot of wonderful people on Instagram. This is where we met too! I also use Facebook a lot for my local contacts.

Website and Shop: ateliermisko.com

Instagram: zuza_misko

Facebook: follow me as Zuza Miśko Wiskirska, I don’t have a page right now.

52 Weeks of Printmakers: Paige Simpson

 

I met Paige Simpson on my first trip to Hudson, NY, where she lives and works. Paige took one of my classes, and quietly produced a stunning print of hands (and gave me a yard of that fabric as a souvenir). Since then, Paige has gone on to create quilts with her fabric, and is now collaborating on a small collection of hand-printed clothing with her mom.

Paige also teaches at Drop Forge & Tool, and is hosting a silkscreen party for Valentine’s Day. You can find more information here.

When kids say that they want to be artists, most grownups assume that they want to become painters or illustrators (or, occasionally, sculptors) – but never printmakers. How did you find your way into this medium? What other media do you work in?

I remember doing one linocut in high school. I liked the challenge of making the image into a repeat pattern. However, when I got to college I was captivated by the printing processes. Each traditional printing process is different from the next, and from any other art form I had done previously. I loved carving blocks, developing plates, making monoprints and then seeing the result after it was rolled through the press. Each step really required me to slow down and be more deliberate with my choices.

I went to Keene State College in Keene, NH which is the same city I was born in! I have a BFA with a concentration in printmaking.

But after college I actually stopped printing. Until recently, I had been quilting a lot, occasionally painting and drawing. I struggled with finding purpose in the work I was making that inspired me to continue producing so I gravitated toward utilitarian endeavors. I circled back around to printing after I took your workshop at Drop Forge & Tool almost a year ago!

How would you describe your work?

My work is very graphic but with a narrative quality to the hands. Each hand is different and each gesture is unique experience or communication.

Images of hands are a big part of your work. Is there a narrative behind this? What does this image mean to you?

I love the history of handwork (quilting, knitting, embroidery) as a silent action that creates communal opportunity, traditionally but not exclusively for women, to develop relationships and share their wisdom. Lending someone a hand is the most powerful catalyst for building a community. Laboring side by side is what offers a chance for two different people to express and listen to each other with mutual respect. Each of my hands I want to be a silent communication. An illustration of a moment that creates opportunity for connection. I always draw my hands from my own lens so the viewer too could imagine their hands in each image.

I’ve always felt more competent expressing myself by using my hands rather than words or voice. So they are also my most precious tool!

What’s the first thing you ever remember making?

One of my earliest memories is the smell of crayons. It is still one of my favorite smells. My parents would bring them everywhere as my entertainment system. So probably a portrait of my childhood dog Pluto, a yellow lab, likely done in purple crayon.

What are you currently working on, and why?

I’m working on a collaboration with my Mom, Jane! She’s an artist too, and is sewing simple tops and dresses. And then I’m am printing all over them. We are going to have a show in March in my hometown, – Dublin, New Hampshire.

Do you have a dream project (or two)?

Yes! I want to make larger quilts, full and queen size, but I have a itty bitty space where I make all my things.

What’s next?

Trying to spend more time making things and devising a strategy to create a more streamlined process for my work. Or accepting that streamlining might not be my thing and coming up with a different strategy.

I have also been curious about painting on fabric, bringing in another element other than block printing that is more gestural. Adding more movement spontaneity and depth is what I want to explore.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

For any creative endeavor be forgiving and patient with yourself. Make sure everyone around you is doing the same.

What do you want readers to know about you or your work?

Each piece takes a really long time to make into a complete object. I carve all of my blocks from drawings. Each hand on a textile is individually inked and printed. Then I try to create something from the textile that someone might want to buy.

How can people find you?

Shop: paigeofcontent.com

Instagram: @paigeofcontent

Twitter, Pinterest: @paigeofcontent