Sunday, May 3, 2009

Printsy Interview - May Yang

Name: May Yang

Brief Bio
I lived most of my life in Tulsa, Oklahoma before going to the East Coast to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). I majored in graphic design, but it was there that I discovered my love of printmaking. I am now working as a freelance designer in Baltimore and always make time for any printmaking related projects. Starting in August 2009, I will be attending the Tamarind Institute Printer Training Program in Albuquerque, NM.

How did you get started in printmaking?
After being completely fascinated by printmaking in high school and never having the means to try it, I took a Screenprinting class as a sophomore at MICA. I was immediately hooked and looked forward to taking Lithography, Letterpress and Intaglio/Relief. My Senior year, I interned at the school printshop, Dolphin Press & Print, where I was exposed to collaborative printmaking and the possibility of printmaking as a profession. Visiting artists, deadlines and working on a team sometimes proved challenging, but I gained so much from the experience. It ultimately lead me to apply to Tamarind.

Describe where you work.
While I've been in Baltimore, I've had the privilege of using MICA's printshop. It's a student shop, and with fourteen classes a week, sometimes the conditions can be less than ideal. That said, where else could I get access to an abundance of equipment and be in the company of many talented and motivated artists around the clock? The space has its charm and I'm lucky to have access to so many things.

What's your favourite printmaking process?
What a hard question to answer! I love different aspects of all printmaking processes as they each bring something unique to the table. However, I'm quite fond of screenprinting. I can lay down three or four colors at a time with screenprinting, making prints like those in my Longitude series much more attainable and affordable to create.

What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I start with a general idea/concept and a rough compositional sketch for most of my prints. Everything else comes together as I work. I used to sit down and plan every single detail out, which I found was hindering my art making. I felt like I had to follow the rigid plans I'd already laid out, instead of having the freedom to change what I was working on. Nowadays the way that I work allows for more freedom and spontaneity and has lead to some surprising discoveries.

What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The fact that I can produce multiples has let me experiment even more with my prints. Monoprinting, collage elements, hand painted color; these are all things that I've tried in the past. Even prints that are less than perfect can end up as a part of a new piece at a later time. It becomes more about learning from the work you've created rather than placing it on a pedestal.
There's also something about all the meticulous steps involved in printmaking that calms me. Call me crazy, but it's almost meditative.

What's your least favorite part of the process?
Any part of the process that requires me to wait on something. I find I can get rather impatient waiting for screens to dry and litho stones to do their thing, especially when I'm working on a new project that I'm excited about!

What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I am most inspired by other artists. There's nothing like seeing a beautiful piece of art that puts me in the right frame of mind to work.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
My work has gone through so many changes through the years. When I started, I felt that I was learning about the processes, getting to the technical level I needed to be at and most of all, learning what printmaking processes worked best with what I had in mind. Don't get me wrong, I'm still learning every time I'm in the studio, but I think I'm more focused now.

How do you get past creative slumps?
I browse some blogs, go for a walk, grab a coffee with a friend. Sometimes all I really need is to clear my mind.

How do you promote your work?
To be honest, I don't think I've done a very good job at promoting my work! This is an area that I'm definitely still learning about.

Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Don't get too discouraged if things don't turn out the right way the first few times (I can definitely tell you some horror stories...), keep working at it, experiment, and most of all have fun!


Marcy said...

your work is beautiful!

Imogen said...

Beautiful work - and I know what you mean about printmaking being calming and meditative :)