Sunday, January 3, 2010

Printsy Interview - Coco Berkman


How did you get started in printmaking?
I remember making my first linoleum print in kindergarden and it felt like making magic.

Describe where you work.
I have a large live in studio over a consignment shop on the Main street in downtown ‘Gloucester’, an old fishing village in Massachusetts. I have a wonderful view of the harbor on one side and downtown on the other.

What's your favourite printmaking process?
For the past year I have been obsessed with making linoleum prints. They are so user friendly. I’m getting ready to visit my daughter in South Korea and I will pack some linoleum and cutting tools to take with me.

What's your creative process for any given print?
I try to draw everyday and try to keep a sketchpad with me most of the time. I like to draw, doodle really, until some image shows up on the paper and then I work into those doodles more consciously.

As much as I preplan any print I know by now that its in my nature to not stick to the initial plan. I find myself impelled to shake things up by changing the image midstream and or changing the color palette. When I make mistakes, then the real creativity kicks in. Mistakes are inevitable in any creative process and I’ve learned to embrace them as opportunities. Mistakes are interventions by the Muses. They are the Muse guiding you in new and surprising directions.

What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
I love visiting and taking workshops in different printmaking studios. There’s always more to learn. I also enjoy turning other people onto printmaking by teaching workshops.

What's your least favorite part of the process?
My pet peeve in regards to printmaking is keeping the image clean. As any printmaker knows this is not an easy thing to do because printmaking is one of the messiest art forms . You need to be willing to make a right mess if you want to move forward in your image making. Then of course you need to clean up afterwards which sometimes can take longer than the actual printmaking.

Also selling my work. The one part of being an artist that never gets easier.

What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I am inspired by other peoples art. I love going to museums and galleries. I love taking out art books from the library. If I see someone’s work I love, I try to figure out why I love it, why it speaks to me. Then I’ll try to emulate some of those qualities in my own work. There’s a “spirit” or “buzz” in some artists work that is not there by accident. I think its a very conscious intention on the part of those artists to imbue a “magic present moment in time” into their imagery. When I see this in a piece of art, it reminds me why I want to be an artist. Lead into Gold.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I am so much more confident. I am unafraid to go forward. Well, I am afraid but I’m more courageous I guess. Because of my commitment to making art. There is nothing I’d rather be doing. If I have an idea I will pursue it. Making art is a priority for me so I think nothing of spending money to purchase materials. I use the best tools and materials I can afford. My kids are grown now so I can indulge in my passions and not be as concerned about parsing out time and money.

How do you get past creative slumps?
If I’m in a slump its usually because I’m not making art of some kind. So the cure for me is to somehow find a way to lighten up by doing some smaller work that's easy and maybe funny.

There are 3 books that I’ve read over and over and they have to be the best writing there is on the subject of creativity. If anyone knows of any others please let me know! Here they are:
Trust me if you’re an artist and are reading this, go and get these books! Buy them or order them from the library.

How do you promote your work?
This is a hard one for me. Promoting can take so much time away from making art. But I make the effort. I try to always have work out there...hanging in cafes and coffee shops. I sign up to show my work in local libraries. Once in awhile I’m fortunate enough to get a gallery show.

I like to give my prints as gifts, especially if someone falls in love with an image and doesn’t believe he or she can afford it. It is challenging to stay true to your creative vision and resist thoughts of “will this sell?” There’s nothing that will drain your creative juices more than dwelling too much on that question.

Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Not necessarily about printmaking but some general advice.

Art has profound value. You don’t ever need to justify making art. Yeah its fun but its hard and necessary work even if you can’t put into words WHY its important. If we could put it into words we’d be writers. On a deep level we all know making art, i.e. bringing forth new images, is important for humanity.

“You have a real job! You’re an artist! Its our job as artists to make art. That's our job. That's what we do.” * Emphasized by my artist friend, Gigi Madieros, in response to my comment that I needed to get a real job.

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