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!
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.