Name: Susan M. MooreEtsy: flyingmonkeystudio.etsy.com
Native of Southern California, now happily relocated to Boise Idaho since 2004. I’m married to a great guy (who is also my studio monkey—fixes things, frames my works)—we just celebrated our 23rd anniversary! I have one son who is 18 in his first year at Boise State (go Broncos!) My ‘day job’ is as an information worker—I work at home for a small software company and I do just about everything except programming. I love working at home—how did I put up with dressing up every day with makeup and nylons and going into an office?
How did you get started in printmaking?
A lot of years ago, I was an art major at San Diego State University. One of the core classes I took was an Intaglio class and I really loved it, but my major emphasis was painting. Well, life got in the way and I ended up dropping out of college to work for the family business as a bookkeeper. 15 years later, I went back to college to get my degree in accounting (no, not art), and went into public accounting. All that time, I lamented my lack of artistic outlet, and in 2003 my husband suggested I take a drawing class at the local community college, just to get back into it. I really loved it and starting thinking about printmaking from that class so long ago. Once I got all settled into Boise, I wrangled my way into a Printmaking class here at Boise State and I’ve been printmaking ever since.
Describe where you work.
We’re very lucky to have a pretty big house, and I’m extremely lucky to have such a handy, supportive husband. He found me a home-built press over in Tacoma, Washington (can’t afford a brand-name one…someday though) and we drove over to pick it up. We decided to convert our downstairs family room into a studio and he built me cabinets and storage racks, and did pretty extensive modifications to the press so it would work for block printing and for intaglio. I have a nice big paper-tearing and framing workspace (that used to be my cutting table back in my quilting days), an inking station and a work table. Oh, and a wonderful view…
What's your favourite printmaking process?
I can’t say I have a favorite—that’s like asking a mom which is her favorite child! I am really enjoying linocut because of how clean and clear the image is. On the other hand, I also really enjoy collagraph because of the subtleties and the element of surprise—you just never know exactly how it’s going to look when you first ink it up. I also enjoy monotype, but haven’t been working much with it lately. I’m planning to take a class in it this year so after that I should start producing more of those. I really want to learn to etch, but that will probably have to wait a while. And, I’ve love to try my hand at silkscreen. See what I mean?
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I always sketch at least a little first—try to plan out the lights and darks. When I’m actually in the process of creating the plate, I ‘ad-lib’ a lot.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The thing that really appeals to me about printmaking in general is that it takes some planning and problem-solving, and you have to be pretty precise to really control the image. I’ve always found detailed, exacting activities appeal to me and relax me. You know, quilting, counted cross-stitch, soldering chains, insane things like that!
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Printing the edition. Right now I’m trying to finish up a 4-layer reduction linocut for an exchange, and I decided on an edition of 36. I always get about a quarter of the way through and really start questioning my sanity—whose idea was this? I’m never doing this again! But, I always do.
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I spend a lot of time surfing, looking for other artist’s work. I’ll find a particular painting or print that someone did and it will really get me thinking about doing something along those lines. I used to feel guilty, like a ‘copy-cat’, but what I discovered is that my work NEVER looks like the other artist’s work that inspired me in the first place—it always looks like my own. I always end up shooting off in another direction, so now I just go with it.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
Well, I’ve gotten better at the process, so my failure rate is much less than it used to be. My work is getting more ambitious (sometimes too much so!). I used to worry that my work doesn’t ‘say’ anything. It’s not political, it has no meaning or agenda. It has recently started to dawn on me that the work I admire most usually doesn’t have an overt political message, so I’m starting to relax into doing work that pleases me.
How do you get past creative slumps?
Change media for a while. Do some pen and ink, or work in acrylic paint. Also, I’ve recently discovered the daily painting movement along with ACEOs and that really opened up a whole new world for me! I can doodle around in a very small format and no problem to throw it out if I don’t like it. I tend to get stuck when I think I have nothing creative in my head and don’t want to waste a plate or an expensive canvas, so I’ve been working small and it’s really helped. And, having a deadline will really get you out of a slump in a hurry, too, so I try to be sure I always have some kind of commitment I’m working on.
How do you promote your work?
Well, I’m just getting started in this area. I entered several local shows and contests and actually won a best of show and 2nd place in another. (Umm, got completely ignored in a couple, too!) I’ve been told that the way to develop online sales is to get more involved in forums and online communities, so I spent my holiday learning how to blog. I’m participating in exchanges and I have said ‘yes’ to a show at a local winery. I think the best thing I’ve done is make the commitment this year to do art or something art-related EVERY DAY (hence the name of my blog). One of my mottos in life is ‘SRP’: Steady Relentless Pressure. I think it will pay off.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
This medium would be pretty hard to figure out on your own—it’s not like just picking up a brush. What really got me going was to take a university-level class. The instructor challenged me and I was inspired by my fellow student’s work. If you are interested in learning print-making but can’t commit to a 15-week class, try to find a printmaker in your area that you can talk to. I find that printmakers are a very friendly and helpful lot, and will share their ‘secrets’ willingly. Most that I know also teach.
Thanks, Susan, for a great interview!!