Sunday, August 30, 2009

Printsy Interview - Yulianna Aparicio Ponce de León

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How did you get started in printmaking?
Technically speaking, I suppose I got started in printmaking when I was a young girl. I remember obsessively stamping everything in site with my very first stamps featuring Hello Kitty. After that, my official introduction to advanced printmaking happened in college when I took an old-fashioned stone lithography course at UNC Chapel Hill.

Describe where you work.
I work where I can. For the sake of convenience, I try to print directly out of my apartment… my bedroom to be precise. When I’m working on a more complicated project, I still use the print facilities at UNC.

What's your favourite printmaking process?
I really don’t have a favorite. When I work, I simply choose the printmaking medium that best suits what I am trying to accomplish. Currently, serigraphy and intaglio printing are the most amenable to my style of image making.

What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I make meticulously planned prints based off of free-form sketches. I draw and draw until I have a host of images that I like, then I combine and alter them in the print planning phase so that I can manage to incorporate the best elements of planning and serendipity.

What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
Once you’ve mastered a variety of techniques, printmaking is an extremely versatile medium. I like printmaking because it allows me to do whatever I want AND make multiples. It doesn’t get any better than that!

What's your least favorite part of the process?
Unfortunately, printmaking is labor intensive and easy to screw up. It’s not that I mind the labor per se, but it’s hard to execute a good print when you work three part time jobs. In spite of this, I still think the end product is well worth the cost and labor.

What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I attended the Southern Graphics Council Conference this year in Chicago. I saw lots of great prints at the open portfolios and visited lots of Chicago galleries. I also had the opportunity to listen to Jane Hammond and Enrique Chagoya give lectures on their work. Printmaking being the process oriented medium that it is, I find that going to this conference, seeing the work of others, and talking to artists about it directly really helps you conceptualize things in ways that you would otherwise never be able to. I came away from the conference feeling rejuvenated and inspired. I make a point of attending the SGC conference every single year for this reason.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I really had no idea whatsoever what I was doing when I first started printmaking. I’ve been in the process of trying to find my voice for the past several years, and I am only now feeling that it is just STARTING to emerge. I guess substance is the key. My images are starting to be about something. Not quite sure what that is yet, but I feel that I am close to making an important discovery. I know it sounds lame, but it’s the truth. I won’t be able to figure out the commonalities of my work until I’ve made a lot of it.

How do you get past creative slumps?
For me, the only way to get out of a creative slump is to seek inspiration or come across it accidentally. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of other artists and small handful of galleries, so I only need to take and walk or pick up the phone and talk to someone to be inspired. I also find that taking a break and doing something else for a while is also productive in this respect (I teeter between printmaking and photography for this reason). You need to take a break from your work sometimes to give other aspects of your life the opportunity to inform your art.

How do you promote your work?
I use the typical online venues of self-promotion-- Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, and various blogs. I also just talk to people and hand out business cards every chance I get. Right now, I am in the process of putting together a professional packet with which I can approach galleries.

Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
You don’t need fancy facilities to be a good printmaker. I learned this the hard way. I was taught to print within the auspices of a large print shop with expensive equipment and everything you could possibly need to make a hand-pulled print of any kind. When I graduated school, I stopped printing because I thought it would be impossible without access to an amazing shop. As a result, I began to feel miserable and directionless. Then I tried to do something about it. I spent what little money I had and rearranged my apartment several times until I could print effectively from it. I came to the conclusion that half of what it means to be an artist is to learn to work with what you have, i.e. being innovative. The other half is just a stubborn inability to give up what you care about.

If you don’t have access to print facilities, I recommend taking up screen printing, sacrificing a room in your house or apartment to your printing habit (I use my bedroom), and buying a barren to hand-print your own relief prints. It is totally possible to make amazing prints without the use of a press. Look up Endi Poskovic if you don’t believe me! Many of his multi-layered woodblock prints are printed with just a baren!

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