Sunday, April 25, 2010

Printsy Interview - Kelly O'Keefe


Brief bio:
Born in Plattsburg, New York in 1969, I moved to Northern California in 1976. and have called Berkeley home since 2002. I have a BA in English and Sociology from U.C. Davis. I have been cutting and pasting paper and words since my journalism days in high school and college. I discovered screen printing in 2008 and am thrilled by the possibilities of the medium.

My fondness for screen printing stems from being able to readily see the hand of the artist in the end result. Each print is unique with it’s variation in image placement, ink color and background. The story told by the piece can be altered by making small adjustments during the printmaking process. Ink splatters and image over lays only add to the quirkiness of the piece.

How did you get started in printmaking?
I took a screen printing class at Richmond Arts Center and was so taken with the process that I became instantly obsessed with screen printing. My teacher, Thilde Weems, has provided endless support, instruction and encouragement.

Describe where you work:
I have a micro-studio in my house where I print along with a darkroom for my exposure unit. It is a cramped space but I love being able to work at home whenever the urge strikes. I make a huge mess-- the wash out sink is in the laundry room so that room looks like a crime scene with drips and splatters on every surface.

What is your favorite printmaking process?
Old fashioned screen printing using a photo emulsion process and printing on paper.

What's your creative process?
I start with a rough sketch or a blocky collage of the image and refine the layers from there as I decide which portion can stand alone in the print.

I don't work digitally so it is pens, paper and rubylith!

What is your favorite part of the process?
I love the moment, post-burning, where the emulsion is being rinsed out of the screen and the image starts to peek out from the screen. The printing possibilities are just surfacing and all is new and fresh!

What is your least favorite part of the process?
I hate when I go one step too far- meaning that I keep adding layers to a print when I should leave it alone!

What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I am turned on by old junk, wrecked stuff and all matter of garbage. I usually hit on a composition and then make choices based on the possible overlaps of images within the composition. So much of my printing process is trial and error and then an "Aha" moment hits and I fall in love with the artwork.

How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I seem to be slipping from an old-timey vibe into a more "street" or tough spirit. We'll see how it goes. Folks don't seem to respond as readily to the more mod stuff but I'm loving it!

How do you get past creative slumps?
I don't dwell on the down periods because they always lift and I am off and running again! Usually a little day trip somewhere cures the dry spell. I live in Berkeley so there is always something great happening that puts the spark back in my head.

How do you promote your work?
I use the internet, my blog and local venues for my promotional stuff. My New Year's resolution is to do more in that department.

Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Jump in--the water's fine!

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