Sunday, August 2, 2009

Printsy Interview - Sarah Gillikin


How did you get started in printmaking?
Surprisingly, it was my drawing teacher about 2 years ago. She always encouraged us to experiment with different medias for our art books. One day she showed some examples of her most creative past students, and breifly mentioned a process that resembled mono printing. I got the specifics on how to do what she was talking about, and went out and started doing it. Then a couple months ago I wanted to make a series of prints for my friend's birthday present, but knew that the way I was doing mono prints would not provide enough detail for the images. So I went to my local art store (Art Things in Annapolis!) and bought the things I needed to do some lino blocks. I had no idea what I was doing and gouged one of my fingers pretty bad within the first 5 minutes! But I really like carving things. I even made a sort of little stamp out of a scrap piece of 2x4 just to see how carving wood was different than linoleum.

Describe where you work.
I work in my apartment. All over really, the nice thing is that I can carve the blocks anywhere (although it produces a mess of little "chips" to clean up). Then when I print, I usually just do it at the table. Since I'm still beginning, I don't have all the tools...still very much an amateur.

What's your favourite printmaking process?
Well, since I haven't done all the types, I'd have to say that the linoleum is good for now. I like it better than the mono prints because of increased definition. But the monoprints are way faster. Eventually I'd love to do wood.

What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)

I usually don't make any art unless I have an idea in my head. Working on art definitely comes in spurts. When I come up with an idea, then I get really excited and go out and buy just enough equipment to get me by, and start at it. Then I could go a little while without any real inspiration. Some times I sketch first; I have found that especially with painting, it's important to do a trial run on paper before moving to canvas, because often the image in my head is harder to translate than I thought.

What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The carving is fun, but the finished product is the best. I feel like you don't really know what it's going to look like until you actually print it.

What's your least favorite part of the process?
Putting the mounting device on the illustration board that I used for matting.

What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
Definitely nature. I am a stereotypical treehugger. I'm always raising my voice at my friends or even people that I don't know about trees, recycling, plastic water bottles, diapers, and other environmental issues. So naturally I use a lot of nature in my designs. Kind of a tribute to the beauty and work the environment does to keep us alive.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
Well, for me it's hard, because I haven't really found one area of art that I am exclusive too. I kind of have my hands in a variety of areas. I make paper, journals, sew, print, graphic design, paint, make sculptures (they are coming to my etsy shop soon), etc. So it's hard for me to look at my work from before and compare to now, because in the past I might have been doing something completely different. Although, I have noticed that the fact that I keep coming back to nature is a consistent thread through all my work.

How do you get past creative slumps?
I'm not sure if any of the things I do actually get me out of a slump, it seems like when the ideas come they come and when they don't they don't. But I read design magazines (I have a degree in graphic design), blogs by other artists, articles here on etsy, I try to draw out or write down concepts that I get so I can come back to them. I collect interesting items, like sticks (I think they're interesting), packaging paper from the dental office I used to work at because I noticed that it had polka dots on it, seeds from a magnolia tree, things like that. I have plans for all the stuff I collect, I just haven't seemed to hash out exactly how I want it executed.

How do you promote your work?
That is an area that I've been working on lately. I finally uploaded my pictures on flickr, I donated some prints to an auction, I'm working on a blog (but being a designer I have to create the layout first), I have my etsy shop on my Facebook page, and I try to upload new items into my shop whenever I can to keep me in the public eye.

Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
You don't have to take a class in a specific area of art to be able to do it. It helps sometimes, but you don't have to. Just get some supplies, watch a video if you must, and try it. Enjoy the fact that alot of times in art you can't mess things up. There is something very gratifying about making things with your hands.

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