My name is Margaret Rankin and I live in Toronto up on a hill about 1 km north of Lake Ontario. I can see the lake from the top floor of the house. I have yet to make a print of that lake - maybe someday.
In my day to day working life I am a landscape architect, but I started to make prints over twenty years ago. I didn’t think I was very serious about it – you know – just sort of a hobby, but as I have been doing it for so long, I have to admit I am serious about my prints.
Why do you like to print?
In a nutshell - total creative freedom! Making prints fulfills an unspoken creative need in me. There are almost always ideas floating around in my head and making prints of them really, really satisfies me.
What is your favorite print medium and why?
I work exclusively in relief, partly because I do not have a press and partly because relief is a medium that has so many visual possibilities. Maybe I just like underdogs. I think relief is a slightly neglected process now – too low tech!
How long have you been printing and how has your work evolved?
I vaguely remember making prints in high school and then forgot all about them until 1987 when I was living in Vancouver. One late summer day I bumped into my former boss on the corner of Davie and Burrard and we had a very short conversation that changed my life. The next thing I knew, I found myself at Emily Carr College (now University) of Art and Design signing up for a Relief Printmaking course. That course taught me basic techniques and I have been printing ever since.
My work is restless. I don’t stick to one idea for very long, but I am slowly training myself to work along more cohesive thematic lines (I hope).
I started out printing the human figure, until someone asked me why all my figures were missing a part of their anatomy – head, leg, arms. I didn’t know why then, I still don’t and I have rarely printed figures since.
My main concentration has been landscape. First I made prints of the beaches and hills near Mabou, Cape Breton where my father came from. Then I started to make prints based on combinations of rocks and water. Lately I have been printing windblown or heavily pruned pine trees in black and white.
I also love pattern and have made prints based on my grandmother’s quilts, bamboo forests and most recently, prints inspired by the colourful mayhem of Hundertwasser’s work.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by beautiful clean design and the landscape, especially if the landscape has been manipulated by man (must be the landscape architect in me). I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Japan in 2008 and some of the landscapes I saw there brought me to tears.
I love Naoko Matsubara’s woodblock prints. They have a strength and freedom that I aspire to, but have not achieved.
How do your promote your work?
I have to admit, not very consistently.
I do have a blog that went on hiatus for a couple of years so I am not sure if it really promoted my work, but is up and running again and getting a decent number of visits. My Flickr account concentrates almost exclusively on my prints and people can find my Etsy store link there. To become more visible, I am participating more on Etsy in terms of keeping abreast of the Teams I am on, searching out and connecting with other printmakers. I participate in local outdoor juried art shows here in Toronto and my work is also shown in a local gallery called Upstairs at 111 Bathurst.
At one point, almost everyone in the office I worked at had at least one of my prints – this promotional tool is known as ‘Gentle Bullying’ –it works!
Are you working on any particular projects now?
I have started a series of prints based on an urban park in Toronto on the Ryerson Campus. The park is called Devonian Garden and features a pool/skating rink with almost impossibly huge granite boulders weaving through the design. The juxtaposition of water and stone against architecture is stunning. I am trying to portray that contrast of mad-made and a natural in large scale prints.
Tell us one random fact about yourself
When I visited my sister in Paris, she promptly lost me in the Metro system a few hours after I arrived. This was before cell phones. I hadn’t memorized her address or phone number and my French is pretty poor, so I was stuck. But I managed to find my way back to her apartment and got there just as she was about to get her boyfriend (a policeman) to launch a search for me!