Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Prinsty Interview: Marissa L. Swinghammer

Interviewed by: Annie Bissett


Brief Bio:
Grew up around Chicago, now living in Boston for the past five years. I've been an artist ever since I first picked up a crayon. Something I try to still do today, keeping a box of them on hand in my studio. Art school was a drag but I learned a lot after all that I didn't even realize at the time. Only seeing it years later when I finally realized my dream to be a working artist.

How did you get started in printmaking?

Printmaking was a required class at college and I fell in love and never painted again. In school it was lithography for many years until three years after I graduated I took a woodblock printmaking class that changed the direction I was going as a printmaker and as an artist.

What media do you work in most often?

Woodblock printmaking.

'Quiet Playground' - mlee.etsy.com on Flickr
Where do you do your printing, and what are your tools?

I share a studio in my house with my young daughter, often printing or carving while she plays nearby. As a result I have to keep my studio very clean, use non-toxic solvents and keep my carving tools and inks out of reach. I use blocks of shina plywood, Japanese steel carving tools, ink and my beloved printing press. These days I print every Tuesday.

'printing press' - mlee.etsy.com on Flickr
Your method is very fluid and allows you to use your blocks over again in various combinations. How did you develop this way of working?

It developed from my love of the medium combined with my short attention span. This short attention span led me a seek a way for me to make prints without doing editions yet still reusing blocks.

'Nature' - mlee.etsy.com on FlickrWhat are your inspirations (other artists, topics, places, etc.)?
My instructor from Mass Art Annie Silverman has been a huge influence. As have so many artists on Flickr and on blogs that I read. The walks I take around Boston with my daughter every morning are a daily inspiration.

'Overgrowth' - mlee.etsy.com on FlickrHow do you work with creative slumps?
I don't. I suffer through them and try to get myself to draw my way out. I find that if I keep a sketchbook and draw even if it isn't any good eventually I will feel inspired again.

Congratulations on the birth of your first child! How has being a new mother affected your work as an artist?

Since having my daughter in September 2007 my work has expanded to include collage and mixed media. This work allows me to incorporate scraps of prints from the past, Japanese washi paper, pages from old books, and screen printing into my work. This came in part from the lack of having large blocks of time to print and still needing to create. These days I am at least able to print once a week.

You were an early member of Etsy. How has Etsy impacted your life and work and how has Etsy changed since you started?
It has grown and then grown some more. When I joined the art category was so small I remember thinking how it was too small to attract many buyers. You didn't have to work to get seen in the same way you do now, but you needed to work to draw people to the site even harder. Etsy had a huge impact on my life giving me a venue to show and sell my art while staying at home. I have a network of friends both local and not from the site that are my daughter's adoptive Etsy aunties.

'#9 - Collage Challenge' mlee.etsy.com on FlickrAssuming a perfect world, what would you imagine yourself doing 5 years from now?
Hmm, I always struggle with questions like this because I know reality can be just as rewarding as a perfect world. But I will give it a shot. In five years I would like to have another child and still be making art and selling on Etsy while putting more attention on showing and selling locally as well. That is the direction I have been heading in this summer and I can see it continuing.

Any advice for aspiring printmakers?
Love the medium and let that love show through your work and through discussion. Defend printmaking with passion.


Ellen Shipley said...

Great interview. I like how you've adapted your art to work around blee. Of course you have the most adaptive style ever!

Jan Allsopp said...

Yes, great interview. I've really enjoyed reading it. I've always admired your work and now I think I do even more so.

mizu designs said...

Wonderful interview Marissa and really great interview questions Annie!

Annie B said...

I love what you said about how reality can be just as rewarding as some "perfect world" of the imagination. So true! It was great to interview you.

Ele said...

I really like the addition of the collage elements! It adds even more depth to your rich layered style.