Saturday, April 11, 2009
Printsy Interview - Jennifer Schmitt
Born and raised in Massachusetts with a few years' detour in Pennsylvania.
How did you get started in printmaking?
MLee of Etsy had a small workshop at her home, I went and was hooked.
Describe where you work.
I have a baby press (can handle blocks up to 10" x 14") and most of my supplies in the dining area of my apartment. But really my whole apartment is full of art supplies. I have the table that was our breakfast table as a kid and I use that as my work space once I clear off all the mail and books. Yes, it's a multi-use space.
What's your favourite printmaking process?
Hmmmm, I love learning new ones. On Etsy I am primarily a woodcut artist, but I am beginning to shift to solar plates and monoprints, mix in chine collé and mixed media details. I love that you can mix different printmaking techniques to spectacular effect.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I work fairly free-form overall. I plan my blocks before I carve them, but the printing is more intuitive. When I work, I spread out half done prints from previous printing sessions. Then I stare at them all until I get an idea of what would be a good next layer or next color to add on. Some prints get all their layers in one day, some take months until I come up with the right combination. I have a stack of about 50 half done prints right now.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The "ooooooo" moment when you pull the print from the block. You never know exactly what you'll get. It's like a little surprise every time.
I also love that there's so much to learn and try and play with. I'm addicted to beautiful papers too. Mmmmm, gampi.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Clean-up. That and when the process calls for me to be very precise. I want to rush through the steps and it all becomes a big mess. I'm not patient that way.
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
Michael Mazur is a huge inspiration in terms of technique and talent. There are so many local artists I admire too - Liz Chalfin and Lousie Kohrman of Zea Mays Studios. Annie Bissett's ability to make political statements and stay true to her art.
For subject matter, I am inspired by nature, the poetry of Mary Oliver, colonial New England headstones (my town is covered with them and they are carved art pieces too), old family stories, women's traditional crafts being elevated and recognized as true art forms.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I continue to challenge myself and take classes. I started a figure drawing class because I want to be able to include people in my work and I didn't feel like I could draw the human form the way I wanted to. I compose images more thoughtfully, leaving less to luck, while at the same time I try not to think too much and kill the spontaneity of the process. I think the overall change has been in my confidence and desires to work bigger and with more different techniques.
How do you get past creative slumps?
Sometimes I work anyway. I keep posted on my wall the quote "Inspiration happens during work, not before it." Other times I sit back and let myself rest. I have to recharge sometimes and take time to see what new ideas bubble up.
How do you promote your work?
I use Etsy and my website and flickr. I have done a bunch of craft shows where I have a mailing list sign-up and then will send out postcards to past customers of where I'll be next.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Try whatever method speaks to you. It's so much fun!
Thanks for the interview, Jenn!
PS - for those of you who didn't know, Jennifer was the organizer extraordinaire of the amazing and incredible collaborative work, The Periodic Table Printmaking Project.