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Amber Albrecht p4

Amber Albrecht talks about some interesting printers and about the different kinds of printing, for those interested in pursuing this medium...

READERSVOICE.COM: You’ve done a lot of illustrations and commissioned works for everything from novellas to Cd covers to zine covers. Do you find you can get as much satisfaction
from commercial commissions as you might from your other art work?

I think it’s really good for me to keep doing commissioned work, in terms of working from a different set of ideas as well as working with deadlines. I always need deadlines to produce anything finished, otherwise I would just eternally churn out drafts and doodles and failed drawings.
Commissions can also be a little frustrating, because the client needs to ultimately approve of everything, and sometimes we aren’t on the same page at all. I’m not always the best communicator, and I often just think that they must know what I’m thinking, when they may not at all.
It’s very satisfying to do something that the client is happy with, and kind of sad if it doesn’t work out in the end. I don’t think I could be a full time illustrator, because I work too slowly and I would go blind trying to produce so much tiny drawing for clients and for my art practice.

RV: Who are some of your favorite printmakers, whether historical or current illustrators, and what do you like about their work?

AA: I hate to admit it but I don’t really have any favorite printmakers other than Goya. Goya is one of my favorite artists overall and one of the first that I ever studied, when I was about ten years old (when DaVinci and Michelangelo and all of the other major artists were taken by the other students). He produced so many etchings and they are all so stunning, especially the supernatural ones. It goes back to my interest in magical realism:while depicting the horrors of war, he chose to use both straightforward depictions of decapitations and such alongside supernatural imagery to heighten the nightmarish qualities in a way that is not formally alienating to the viewer.
I’m generally more interested in artists who draw and paint, as well as
photographers. There are some artists who I really like, who do a little
printmaking, but I never seem to like it as much as their other work. Luke Painter (Toronto) and Gillian Wilson (Guelph) are two peers of mine who do some really nice print work.
I like how Luke Painter’s recent etchings are so masterfully drawn/etched and successfully evoke an atmosphere of eeriness through his use of line-work.
Gillian Wilson’s print-work has evolved quite a bit and both her intaglio and silkscreen work are very simple and satisfying pieces that draw from both folk art and the suburban environment, among other influences.

If someone was interested in learning printmaking, what would you recommend they do, and how many years would they be looking at in printing studies, and is it a very expensive medium to pursue?

AA: I would think that taking a university course would probably be the best way to learn printmaking, or possibly a class or workshop at a local print studio.
In terms of silkscreen printing, you could also find someone who has their own studio and pay them to give you some lessons. I think that silkscreening is technically quite a lot easier to get the hang of, in order to begin producing work relatively quickly, whereas intaglio and lithography take longer to perfect.
I think lithography as a technique usually takes years to perfect, but I never really learnt it, and it’s a very mysterious artform in my mind. All forms of printmaking require a little investment in supplies and silkscreen supplies are not terribly expensive. Silkscreen printing expenses vary a lot depending on what kind of print (or poster or
t-shirt) one is looking at producing. You can have such a DIY approach, using old house paint, not worrying too much about having a flawless screen, or of using good paper or having a perfect edition. This is in contrast to the type of work I do, with the goal of having an archival gallery-caliber flawless edition of prints in hand at the end. Silkscreen printing is certainly not the most expensive of artistic mediums though and all one really needs to buy is a screen and some inks and a few more things if the larger supplies (light table and power gun) are taken care of by the renting of a communal studio.

-Copyright Simon Sandall.