Sunday, December 28, 2008
Printsy Interview - Susan Heggestad
Interviewed by jocreates
Name: Susan Heggestad
I was born in the small town of Vermillion, South Dakota, but moved out west to Sacramento, California while still a young child. Because I spent my formative years there, but eventually moved back to the Midwest as an adult, I consider myself both a California girl and a true Midwesterner. I have a large family: my two boys (ages 11 & 12), my husband and his three girls (9, 14, and 18). Oh and we have two dogs. I again live in my hometown, which I could only appreciate once I became a parent. I work part-time as an instructor, try to make work as often as I can in my little downtown studio, and enjoy having a flexible schedule to be home for my kids in the afternoons.
What printmaking medium do you most often work in?
My favorite, by far, is collograph. But I also love relief printing, monotypes, and intaglio.
How did you get started in printmaking?
Oddly enough, I attended a summer printmaking workshop before I even really understood what it was all about. I was studying in the art department at the University of South Dakota, and took an advanced drawing course with Lloyd Menard. Lloyd had been, for years, organizing a zany print workshop out in the Black Hills, called Frogman's Print & Paper workshop. Needless to say, I met all kinds of wacky, but lovable printmakers, and decided that I had to become one, too... I went on to attend 7 more workshops (although they are now hosted here, in Vermillion), and to get my BFA in prints, and my MFA in prints at University of Buffalo, NY.
Describe where you work.
I have a small, office-sized space up above my favorite coffee shop downtown. It's crammed top to bottom, and side to side with all of my art, supplies, equipment, etc. - including two presses. I cannot work very large, due to the constrained space, but I will be expanding after the holidays, and am REALLY looking forward to being able to stretch out a bit, so to speak.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I do keep a sketchbook, and I often jot down simple ideas for images I tend to see in my head. That's often as far as I get with planning. I really enjoy being somewhat spontaneous in the printing process; in other words, choosing what sorts of textures and colors the print will be composed of as I go. I have, on very rare occasions, sat down and planned a multi-plate print very meticulously, before-hand. These weren't necessarily bad experiences (as a teacher, I appreciate the usefulness of planning), but this way of working just doesn't satisfy me as much as the surprise of improvisation. Of course, I've often wasted a lot of paper and ink this way...
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The potential for endless variations on a theme.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
Science. Especially the place where science and spirituality meet.
The expanse of the universe; the micro-expanse of our bodies.
Poetry and music.
Artists like Joseph Cornell, Magritte, Kiki Smith, Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tapies, Marc Chagall, Leslie Dill...
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I'd like to think that I have more confidence now in creating my own imagery; in trusting that my ideas are worth pursuing... and of course, that I've got a much better handle on printing processes now. I'm learning to love color, which has taken me quite a long time to be comfortable with.
How do you get past creative slumps?
Everything happens in cycles, especially creativity. A creative slump is really just a downturn in the cycle, a time when your creativity needs to be nourished - you know, taking in, rather than just putting out. I try not to feel bad about simply indulging that need... reading, looking at things, finding new and interesting materials, collecting odds & ends, and of course, organizing all of my ephemera, sleeping...
How do you promote your work?
Well, I'm not really sure how well these things are truly promoting my work, but I do maintain a website, as well as my etsy store... I have some really great business cards that I got from moo.com (I put a small stack into all etsy packages I mail), I blog... I enter juried exhibitions a few times a year - and am generally fairly successful. I'm certain that I could do a whole lot more - but promotion is just not my strong suit.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Get a book! You don't have to take a class to learn something about printmaking... although some of the fun of being a printmaker is the social aspect; working in a printshop with other folks around to chat with, learn from. But of course, anyone can sit down with a piece of linoleum and start carving. Or heck - with a potato! I've seen some gorgeous potato prints! Printmaking is an area that is just sooo open to experimentation, to playfulness. The best book to look for is The Complete Printmaker, by Ross and Romano. Making your own prints will help you truly appreciate just what it is that printmakers do; might even turn you into a collector!