Sunday, December 7, 2008
Printsy Interview - Shannon Buck
Name: Shannon Buck
Brief Bio: I officially studied printmaking at Portland State University but most of what I currently do with letterpress is self-taught. I've been printing under the name Loaded Hips Press for about 6 years now. I'm also a painter and I make whirligig scupltures, small lady and cat pirates with kinetic arms.
What printmaking medium do you most often work in?
Linocuts and letterpress but I dream about working with aquatints and etching again some day.
How did you get started in printmaking?
In college. Suddenly my neurotic tendencies to want to follow a methodical process while still freaking out and making art made sense. I started with zinc etchings. I love being free to let go and let chemicals do their thing, I can pretend to be a magician. I learned how to use a letterpress from a workshop and then I sort of got hooked on it.
Describe where you work.
Most everything I do is in my studio, which is an extra room added on to our house. The previous owners of the house used the room for wood-working so it already had good artistic mojo. I do most of my printing on a community letterpress (the same press I learned from - a table top Chandler & Price clamshell platen press) located at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, a little nugget of goodness in Portland, Oregon. I have a letterpress in my studio, but, well, it's been my little problem child.
What's your creative process for any given print?
I sketch first but there's lots of room along the way for compromising and adjusting. For landscapes I work from my personal photographs. Currently I have a show up with my fellow printmaking buddy Carye Bye of Red Bat Press at the IPRC where you can see my process of sketches and blocks.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
There's nothing like rolling back the blankets and slowly peeling the paper off the plate after running it through the press, and finding this beautiful, luscious print.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Printing is a zen state and if you're not in the zone you can really screw everything up. If I'm having a bad print day I have to just clean the ink off and walk away, go get some coffee and start again on a different day. But luckily that rarely happens.
What are your inspirations?
Sue Coe, Kathe Kollwitz, the Fauvists, the Symbolists, the Secessionists, old movie posters, postcards, and advertising - back when they used lithography and letterpress. I'm also in awe of all the old letterpress printers, still around to tell their stories. I recently had the opportunity to meet the printers of the American Amateur Press Association when they had their picnic in Eugene, Oregon. I got to see a linotype machine in action, it was truly amazing. It's a giant machine that melts lead and casts a slug as you type the letters on a keyboard. These guys really inspired me to continue printing.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
It's simplified a bit. I think more in terms of blocks and repeating forms. And, well, I'm 4 months pregnant (!) so I'm really excited to see how my work changes once this little person arrives.
How do you get past creative slumps?
That's the best time to get out old sketchbooks and revisit abandonded projects.
How do you promote your work?
Uh oh, I don't really. I need an agent.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
I don't know that I'm experienced enough to say. Maybe in 50 years I will be. For now I would say fill the world with what you want to see.
Thanks for the interview, Shannon, and good luck with the new family member in a few months!