Sunday, October 17, 2010
Links to Niki's Etsy site, website, and blog are at the bottom of this interview.
How did you get started in printmaking?
I did one printmaking subject at university, as an elective. Our class took on the role of custom printers, under the name Cicada Press. We got to edition the works of well known local artists – and this responsibility of course meant we had to get proficient, fast! Aside from editioning other people’s work, we also got to do a couple of our own images. I loved etching immediately because it is forgiving of (or should I say it complements) my messy, finicky drawing style, so when uni was over, I looked for a studio where I could continue doing it.
Describe where you work.
I do my printing at an open studio called Warringah Printmakers Studio. They support safe practices which means there is not a drop of acid to be found, and we etch with copper sulphate. It’s good to know I’m lowering my chances of developing diseases later in life because of the processes, but it’s also frustrating sometimes because it’s not as stable and predictable as acid. Still learning!
Etching on zinc. There’s enough possibilities with it that I haven’t felt the need to experiment further… yet.
What's your creative process for any given print?
First the idea gets drawn in a notebook. This usually happens within 30 seconds because I’m terrified I’ll forget it. A few months later I’ll stumble across it again and if it still looks attractive, I will look up some images on google, or photograph my own, to use as a reference for drawing. I then draw straight onto the (hard grounded surface of the) plate.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
Others find the long etching process tiresome, but it’s what I like best. I like seeing the physical reaction of the acid bubbling the plate away, watching the plate get shiny as the ink is wiped off, and peeling the paper away from the plate.
Peeling the paper away from the plate and realising how many mistakes you’ve made! Getting dry hands from constant washing is also annoying. The rest is fine. I even enjoy cleaning the plate off.
What are your inspirations?
Other etchers. They show me how much I still don’t know and how much I could possibly do if I spent more time at it. Also I like the MCA in Sydney, and all the little galleries in the side streets that line Oxford Street (also in Sydney). These don’t directly reflect in my work either in subject matter or style, but are useful as a reminder to me to keep making art.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I’ve only just started! I will definitely be looking into some evolution, but only once I’ve gained enough level-up points.
By looking at what I know and working from that, even if it’s not immediately creative or exciting. It can be helpful to just have a starting point from which better things can emerge, especially because I tend to get ideas by working, rather than by sitting around moping.
How do you promote your work?
Etsy, facebook, flickr. At the moment I don’t have enough actual content, so I’m focusing my efforts on that. Later I’d like to have a stall in one or a few of Sydney’s many markets, and to promote my work via word of mouth through the people I know.
Everyone knows what sculpture and painting and photography is, but no one knows about printmaking! Why not!? Show your friends and family, take the time to describe some of the work that goes into it, and what makes it unique. Imagine a world where people no longer get printmakers mixed up with inkjet and laser printers.
Niki’s Etsy Shop
Niki’s Web Site