Sunday, October 2, 2011

Interview with Gary Thomas of GarThoma Studio


Born and raised in Muncie, IN. I received my BFA degree in studio art with a concentration on drawing from Ball State University. I then went to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for a Masters Degree in Printmaking. While living in Carbondale I made a living as a window washer. I have been teaching art at the university level since graduating from SIU in 2000. I have taught in Missouri at Culver-Stockton University; in Indiana at Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis and Taylor University. I also worked as a barista while I lived in Indiana. I currently live in Kankakee, Illinois and teach studio art (drawing, painting and printmaking) at Olivet Nazarene University. 

Why do you like to print?

When I was a student at Ball State I focused primarily on drawing. I love to draw. I put off the required printmaking class because I felt that printmaking was somehow secondary to drawing and painting. When I finally got to the class and made my first print I was absolutely head over heals in love with the medium. I just connected with the process of creating a matrix and then making multiples to share and trade with my friends. Everything about it is just fabulous to me, especially the wonderful surprise I get when I lift the paper off the block or plate to reveal the image. And, of course, nothing can compare to the smell of a print shop! 

Favorite Print Medium, Why?

The woodcut is my favorite. I really enjoy the graphic quality and the unique mark that I can create with the various carving tools. I love the fact that there is no other way to get that kind of mark. I also love the simplicity of woodcut printing. All I need are just a few carving tools and a piece of wood; I don’t even need a press, just an old wooden spoon to rub the back of the paper onto the inked up block. 

How long have you been printing and how has your work evolved? 

I have been printing for about 13 years. My work has really just matured over the years, rather than evolved. The choices I make are more intentional. I have let myself make a lot of mistakes and I have learned from them. 

What inspires you? 

The Holy Spirit 

How do you promote your work?

I am still working on that. I am open to ideas that others might have. I am not able to quit my day job yet; that would be nice to do sometime, though. I look for every opportunity to talk about my work: I blog; I tweet; I Facebook. Also, I try to get my work into shows as often as I can. I am an art professor at a university so that takes a lot of the time that I would otherwise be working on marketing and promotion. When I do have extra time, I like to create work. 

Are you working on any particular projects now? 

I am currently working on a series of cuts that tell the story of Christ. Also, I am trying to fill up another sketchbook. I get lots of ideas and inspiration from keeping a sketchbook. 

Tell us one random fact about yourself.

I have a 15 mile commute to work which I usually do by bicycle at least twice a week.  I love the exercise, being out on the bike, and I love not paying nearly $4 a gallon for gas!
Check out Gary's Etsy Shop and Blog

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