52 Weeks of Printmakers: Erin Dollar

You may already know Erin Dollar from Cotton & Flax, her line of printed textiles. But Erin is also a fine arts printmaker, with a degree in fine arts (and a concentration in printmaking) from the University of California Santa Cruz.
I met Erin at a craft fair way back in 2009 or 2010, before she’d started Cotton & Flax. In this interview, we talk about how her practice has evolved – and continues to change.

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? What other media do you work in?

ED: As a kid, I was lucky to have been exposed to tons of different art media and ways of making art. I tried ceramics, oil painting, drawing, collage, and even some printmaking techniques! My high school had a wonderful art teacher who always gave us interesting assignments, and I felt truly challenged and excited to be in her class.

I didn’t plan to study fine art in college, and yet I found that I couldn’t stay away. I took one fine art elective… then three… and eventually decided to double major in Fine Art and English Literature. I focused mainly on photography and drawing, until one semester I took an intro to printmaking course, and was instantly hooked. It was like magic – a weird blend of science, chemistry, and art. I was in love, and after that first class, I spent the majority of my on-campus hours working in that print studio.

I continue to do a lot of drawing and some painting, but the process of printmaking still captures my mind in a unique way.


How would you describe your work?
Pattern-focused, full of repetition. The printed textiles I create for Cotton & Flax have a minimalist modern aesthetic, but my fine art prints tend to be more densely layered.

What’s the first thing you ever remember making?
I have a few fuzzy memories of making art in kindergarten, with those big, fat paintbrushes and jars of paint with plastic lids. It’s hard to remember what I was actually making, but I do recall the feeling of enjoying the process and the messiness of it.

I have one of your prints on paper from 2009, I think before you’d started Cotton & Flax. What prompted you to focus almost exclusively on working with fabric?
Cotton & Flax was an offshoot of my fine art practice that eventually became a full time job. I started experimenting with printing on fabric in 2008, when I was really getting interested in quilting, and I had just learned how to screenprint. At the time, I was working in a cooperative print studio up in Portland, Oregon, and selling my fine art prints online and at craft fairs. Sometimes I’d bring these printed textile experiments to shows, and I would get great feedback, which encouraged me to make more.As I continued to refine my screenprinting technique, I decided to add a small collection of my hand-printed textile pieces to my online shop. They sold well, and I loved the process of designing more utilitarian objects, so I decided to launch Cotton & Flax as a new project, separate from my fine artworks. That was back in 2012, and since then, it’s totally taken over, to the point that I only rarely get to work on fine art prints on paper! I love the challenge of combining the creative aspects of pattern design and printmaking, with the technical challenges of product design.
What are you currently working on, and why?

I’m continuing to expand my product line for Cotton & Flax, and collaborating with as many other artists and makers as possible to make new work. I love the process of collaboration – it invigorates my work with fresh perspective and ideas. One of my favorite collaborations that I’m currently developing is a collection of pet beds and accessories using my signature printed fabrics.

Do you have a dream project (or two)?
I hope to do more large-scale projects that aren’t necessarily products. In the next few years I want to focus on installations, murals, and other big impact uses for my designs.
What’s next?
I’m absolutely thrilled to be launching a fabric line next month! I am so excited to see how other makers use my fabrics to create their own pieces. I also teach printmaking workshops on a regular basis, and I have a fun block printing workshop coming up in Los Angeles in April. So far, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of fun collaborations and time spent with other makers and artists, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
Don’t be intimidated by printmaking! One of the things I stress in my screenprinting class is that many printmaking projects can be tackled from home, without needing to invest in a ton of equipment. Most artists learn by doing, and we all make mistakes along the way – the best way to learn and improve is to practice!
What do you want readers to know about you or your work?

I hope that more people will take an interest in hand-printed textiles – they are so different from mass produced fabrics. That tactile quality of screenprinted fabric is really unique, and I think it makes all the difference.

How can people find you?
You can learn more about my printed home goods at cottonandflax.com, and see more of my fine art prints at erindollar.com. Come say hello to me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!

52 Weeks of Printmakers: Hilary Williams

Hilary Williams was one of the first printmakers I met, long before I’d thought about becoming a printmaker myself. I was struck by how painterly and collage-like her prints are; silkscreen has a reputation for being a rather flat medium, but Hilary’s work is layered and full of visual texture.

A graduate of the California College of Arts, Hilary now lives in Santa Rosa, CA, on a small homestead complete with chickens, goats, and a vegetable garden.

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? What other media do you work in?

HW: I started in drawing and painting when first in college, but my first year I took etching and bookmaking. I did not take a screen printing class till my second year but as soon as I touched the medium I was hooked. I had been doing a lot of collages and using my photographs and pattern papers, so to me the medium was a perfect way to put all that together in a nice clean piece that had the bonus of multiples. I also fell in love with printmaking because I think of it as more accessible. Prints are original art works that more people can actually own and enjoy.

I also create one of a kind mixed media paintings that include screen printing, hand painting in acrylic mostly and often collages of fabrics.

How would you describe your work?

I like to create surreal urban, natural or imagined environments using collages of images or ideas and a mostly bright color palette.

When I first met you, you were living and working in San Francisco. You’ve since moved to Sonoma County, where you have a small homestead. Has that move changed your practice? If so, how?

Definitely. It has been wonderful in many ways for my work and quality of life, but also created some obstacles for me in my career. I love being up here where it is more quiet, I have more space and lots of natural light in my studio. I also love some of my new inspirations derived from these surroundings. The homestead however can be distracting and requires a time commitment that also takes me away from the studio. Also being over an hour away from the urban Bay Area where most of my work activities are still based is hard. I don’t get to interact with and support my artist peers as much as I would like, or do some of the little things like small gallery shows or be involved in cooperative art spaces that I used to have time for in San Francisco. Overall I would not change the move though. I love my little mini farm and all the joys and challenges that it brings to my life.

What’s the first thing you ever remember making?

I was always a creative kid. Drawing, painting, and crafting were my hobbies. It’s not the first thing at all, but I remember in 6th grade I would run through the neighborhood collecting Snapple labels off empty bottles out of people’s recycling bins and I made a whole wall of wall paper out of it.

What are you currently working on, and why?

I am working on another “big” print. I have some limitations on size because of my equipment set up, but I have been pushing the boundaries a little and going outside the size that is easiest for me to create some bigger prints. I just like the way a bigger piece can create a bigger impression and more involved layers and registration challenges. I am trying to push my skills more this year. I am also experimenting more with oil paints. It’s good for me to experiment sometimes and create things that I am nervous about doing or showing. This is a good time of year to do that as there is not much going on on my farm.

 Do you have a dream project (or two)?

I am always having ideas that seem too big, but I have one that I have thought about a few times. I love baseball and I have done a couple of prints of the San Francisco Giants stadium. I have always thought it would be fun to travel to each team’s stadium and do a print of it. Maybe it’s a future Kickstarter campaign!

What’s next?

I have traveled to the Southern California desert a couple times recently and I’m thinking about working on some pieces from the photographs of those trips.

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

If someone is just getting started in printmaking, I would say take the time to learn the process and the craft. It can be super fun and easy to create images, but getting everything to be clean and printed well is another story that can take some time.

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

I guess that in my prints I hand design most of my stencil layers with hand painting and drawing with india ink on film and then I use Photoshop to convert my photographs to black and white and then print them out as stencils. I really create the whole edition as I go. I don’t usually know what color I am going to print until I am about to print it. I like to treat the medium with a more painterly feel.

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

My website is the best place to see or shop for my work, but I like Instagram and Facebook too if anyone wants to follow along.

Website: www.hilaryatthecircus.com

Instagram

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New Field Bag Collaboration with Fringe Supply Co.

Fringe Field Bag by Jen HewettFringe Supply Co. and I collaborated on a new Field Bag. My newsletter subscribers got first dibs on the first batch, but another batch will be available at 10 am PST today.

These are limited-edition bags, so once they’re gone, they’re gone! You can get yours while they last here.

Another Fringe Supply Co. Collaboration

Fringe Supply Co. Field Bag hand printed by Jen Hewett

In 2014 and 2015, I created five limited-edition project bags for Fringe Supply Co. It was a fun, year-long collaboration, and Karen (Fringe’s owner) and I tried to figure out other ways to work together.

Then, along came Fringe’s incredibly popular Field Bags. We decided that I would print the blank, cut canvas for the bags using my Mountains/Clouds print (you may remember the preview I shared here). I printed enough fabric for 70 bags, sent them to Karen (who responded, “They were so beautiful I gasped when I opened the package”). Karen had them sewn by her manufacturing team, and then we launched the finished bags into the world, notifying our respective newsletter subscribers first.

And all 70 sold out in four hours.

We’ll be working on something else in the later part of the year. We’ll probably offer it to our newsletter subscribers first. If you’d like to have first dibs on it (as well as be notified when I add new classes or launch new products), please sign up for my newsletter.

With that, I’m off to Southern California to teach at Superbuzzy!