Name: Maria Doering
I was born in Germany in 1985. In May 2000 my family and I immigrated to the United States where I graduated from High School in Oakland, NJ and attended Hartford Art School as part of the University of Hartford, Hartford, CT. Fall 2005 I spent one semester studying and working in the beautiful Tuscan town Cortona in Italy. In May 2007 I graduated with Regents Honors, being in the top two of my class I left Hartford with a summa cum laude BFA in Printmaking and a Minor in Art History. Working on my MFA with a Print Media concentration I am currently enrolled at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
How did you get started in printmaking?
I took a lithography course with Fred Wessel at Hartford Art School, and within less than a month I was converted, changed my major from Painting to Printmaking right away. It was the beginning of a beautiful obsession.
Describe where you work.
Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Since I have moved many times over the past years my workspace constantly changes. Since I am an artist not only a printmaker, I paint, draw, photograph, install, write,...etc.. And each technique has its own space and time. I tend to work wherever I go, draw on the metro ride to work, sew at a friend’s house while we watch TV. For print I do the pre and post preparation work at home or in my studio at school, and the actual printing of course happens in the Print shop at Concordia University, here in Montreal. Lately I prefer working at home.
What's your favourite printmaking process?
This is a tough question. I think Lithography was my first love and my love for drawing definitely factors into that. But I wouldn’t have the patience to work on an intricate lithograph without the fun energy of doing a reductive linocut, or without the many layers of a reductive offset monotype. I think the only print technique that I don’t get along with would be Intaglio. Maybe the print-god’s were to blame for that one, maybe it wasn’t meant to be but the worst time I had in the studios was during the two intaglio courses I took.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
This very much depends on the Print technique. When I work on a linocut for instance I work with photographs and at this stage don’t even do pre-sketches. I just transfer guidelines onto my block, and start to freely chop away as I am using the photograph as my reference. Since I have printed reductively for years I know the technique well enough to not need too much planning. I also tend to mix ALL my color inks before I even start printing. I then work from that limited palette. The large color lithographs I work on tend to develop out of my obsessive drawing / sketching/ doodling, where I develop new patterns. Then create ball grain litho plates by drawing the patterns freely with autographic ink. These full sized plates I print on our Mailaender offset press which has automatic inking rollers (the most beautiful and painfree invention ever... when it works).
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The endless step by step, layering, the processes, the smell of the ink, the hard physical work it requires....etc...
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Really depends on my mood and the technique. In general though I love the actual printing, and am often a bit annoyed with the preparation stages.
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I draw inspiration from my everyday life, feelings, emotions, issues of identity and place, belonging, the body, health...etc. I am very much inspired by the people and events around me in my life. What I have noticed recently is that I am most productive and inspired if I stumbled over a lot of questions that I can’t find an answer to. It seems that the more questions we have the more interesting our work becomes.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I loved Hartford Art School for the intense techniques I was taught there. But I do have to say that I am creating much more freely and developing my own way of doing everything and anything since I have left. I do think that it becomes very apparent in the work I am producing now, when compared with older projects. I let more mistakes happen these days and let them guide me to make more energetic work.
How do you get past creative slumps?
I believe that the best way of getting over creative slumps is to produce. No matter how crappy the work is you might end up doing, it more than likely will help you to a better place. I also believe that another good way of avoiding creative slumps is to alternate techniques. If you get stuck on a print, do some drawing or painting, or go out and take some photos. It doesn’t even need to have to do with fine arts directly. I play with my hedgehog Nuffnuff, go for a walk, cook, go to the gym, clean my studio...etc... all of that can help getting back on track.
How do you promote your work?
I would say my number one promotional tool is the internet.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
As technical as printmaking is in the end, remember that you are an artist, and really anything goes! Try to work as safe as possible, your health should be your number one priority, esp. in printmaking.
Thanks for the interview, Maria!