Sally Flynn is an artist who splits her time concentrating on her practice in printmaking and working full time at a regional Art Gallery. After studying Fine Art at the University of Tasmania, majoring in painting, she completed her honours year in printmaking. Highlights of her practice include two residencies, solo exhibitions and running workshops for artists.
Starting her career as an arts-worker in Western Sydney and then Tasmania with qualifications in Community and Youth Work, Sally then completed her Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies at the University of QLD to move into arts management. She has worked as the Gallery Assistant at Artisan (peak body for craft and design in QLD), managing the popular Ivory 24-7 window project space. Her knowledge within the visual arts includes experience in the operations of an art gallery, curating exhibitions and working with artists. She is passionate about assisting artists in their careers, so much so this often comes before her own practice. She has her own website and posts regularly to her blog.
How did you get started in printmaking?
I was making paintings and drawings in my honours year at Uni Tasmania and my lecturer said - whoa there Nelly those look like etchings - get yourself to a printmaking class. I found etchings too fussy, but loved relief prints, especially in the form of woodcuts and lino cuts. I also like embossing. This was all about 5 years ago, and you can't stop me.
Describe where you work:
I like printing better than painting because I can do a lot of the prep at home (in front of the telly). When I accrue enough time at work I'll take a free day and book a session at the community print studio. I recently did a residency where I was able to print 24/7 - lovely!
What's your favourite printmaking process?
Oh yeah, shot my mouth off already - its relief embossing.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first?Pre-planned or free-form?)
I like to do little thumbnail sketches. With my background in painting this was always enough to get me started. I'm finding with printmaking I need to do a lot more planning. From the thumbnail sketch I move onto plotting out on the wood or lino. I use smelly marker pens, or if I'm feeling fancy I will go with a chinagraph pencil. I like to adjust things after I print too. I'm not too proud to dig in with my carving tools to get things 'just right'.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
I love all the planning that goes on. When you make an artwork you really feel liked you have worked! I also am enjoying the resurgence of this craft with the whole handmade revolution.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
I'm still no good at reversing the image in my mind - so many times I have printed and thought, oh - that's not how I thought it would look. I really don't like the messy stinky inks. I also get frustrated that there is little room for spontaneity during the press stage. Oh the blankets I have ruined!
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
Right now its screenprints - Little Friends, and posters, etc. But children's books, illustration, pattern, fabric prints, all have their place. Sometimes my partner and I make up silly stories, and I think - I would like to do a print about that.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
When I started I was really into creating images that were part of my research thesis on mental illness and artmaking. Now I want to learn more about the technique. I read people blog's to see how they do things. Lately I've been musing over various approaches to text.
How do you get past creative slumps?
I keep a journal or sorts, or rather a few. I write notes as much as I draw thumbnails. Flipping through this can take me back to the moment of inspiration, and will spark it off again. But when I'm in a deeper slump, its other people that inspire me - blogs, exhibitions, movies, etc.
How do you promote your work?
I've just started to take this seriously. I have a website that is still a baby. The best method of my promotion has been my blog. I also have an Etsy store. I had a stand at a market earlier this year, and I really enjoyed meeting my 'clients' face to face. That's something I am really going to pursue.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
The delight in making prints is not reserved for special people; anyone from children to adults can make this art! Find a class, enroll and enjoy!