Interview by Jenny Morris with Paula Garrido and Ignacio “Nacho” Pérez Kenchington
JM: First of all, tell our readers a little bit about yourselves!
PG: We are Paula Garrido and Ignacio Pérez Kenchington, a creative art couple from Santiago, Chile. 9 years ago, we started working together when we made an exchange: Nacho as an Art Director would teach me Photoshop and I, the visual artist, would teach him photo screen printing. Then we started experimenting with those techniques. We had similar visions in the way we approached creativity, graphics and optic art. We also liked music a lot. So, those things joined us. With the years, we started experimenting with different techniques and tools that allowed us to develop our artistic visions. First we started working with black light and fluorescent colors. Then Nacho brought in 3D glasses, so we started experimenting with 3D, and my work started to be affected by these techniques. Then we started experimenting with RGB lights with sound sensors, which allowed us to start working directly with music and start controlling the rhythm of lights with a DMX controller. This started giving movement to our artwork, aided by the use of 3D, optical effects, sound and projection (something that we started experimenting with last year). All these elements, analogue and digital, have started to unite our careers. We also like to travel, we like to experiment, and the last 5 years we’ve been traveling to different screen printing residences in different parts of the world, like Berlin, Lima, New York, Auckland. We started working and experimenting with artists from different countries and cultures, learning new techniques. We also enjoy experiences, which is why we aim to make our artwork an experience for the spectators.
NK: We also enjoy nature a lot, something that we try to share in our artwork. We usually go to nature to get inspiration and then try to transmit it and share it through our work. We travel together, so we get inspired by the same places and use these destinations to shape our own techniques. Now we are working together in our last art piece called “Balance,” which we brought to New York this summer (2017).
JM: How did you come to arrive at GPL?
NK: Before coming to New York in 2015, we started doing some research on the internet for screen printing studios and also asked some friends to recommend print spaces. Many of them spoke to us about GPL. We really liked the studio when first we saw the pictures, but also all the things that were going on: classes, blog, memberships and it looked really professional, so we decide to take a membership. This is our second year here and we will be presenting a project in September.
PG: One of the friends that recommended us to this space was Carolina Peñafiel, director of Local Project (where we presented our art show “Balance” last June). She was working with Renzo Ortega, who, at that time, was working at GPL and was also curating a show I was going to be part of (Stamp Manifest) in the Lab’s gallery. Therefore, thinking of working on the art pieces for the show in the Print Lab and then showing them in the gallery was also something that motivated me to take a membership here. Also, the idea of working in places with a lot of diversity: art printing by artists and also industrial printing. So in a way, it was very interesting to work between these two ways of printing.
JM: I would love for you to tell readers a bit about your process. How did you come to the juxtaposition of screen printing and 3D?
PG: Before meeting Nacho and complementing each other by working together, I always printed with a lot of layers in a more freestyle way compared to the structure of engraving, so I approached the technique in a more “pictorial way,” something I learned from my dad who is a painter. I started printing with many, many layers, always trying to get close to the lenticular or hologram effect, until Nacho brought some 3D glasses to the studio. As he saw, they worked really well with the colors I used in my artwork and knew I was trying to get to that effect. I always wanted to achieve that and thought is was impossible, so imagine my happiness when this happened! Since this happened 7 years ago, we’ve been studying the 3D ChromaDepth technique, finding infinite possibilities in our artwork.
NK: Something really interesting about 3D and installations as well is that it involves the spectator directly with no need for introductions to explain what it means to “see in 3D.” It’s something physical that connects the audience with the artwork right away. We have been researching this for many years, almost 8 years, that has given us knowledge on how this 3D art behaves. This finally adds a new tool to the artwork experience, the same as if it were lighting, soundscapes, video, etc.
PG: Something interesting about working with technology, is that it is always evolving, something that allows us to always being evolving with it, such as with our experience with 3D and lighting in our work.
JM: Can you tell us more about the running themes in your work and how you came to the theme of the art show? What does “balance” mean to you within this context?
PG: I feel that the subjects included in this art show “Balance” have a lot to do with equilibrium in different areas. We have a main subject that has to do with the care and consciousness of and for the environment and ecology, and how we can spread the word, in our case about virgin places from Chile, our country, so people can know about them, recognize them and protect something that we do have, something that exists. That was something we wanted to include as part of a balance… how man relates to nature. That’s a big subject: how human beings can live in equilibrium with nature, with the earth. Then, we also have balance between us as a duo, what have we come up with after working for the last 9 years. This is the first time we’ve done an art piece together, so how screen printing comes together with digital through video and mapping. How these two languages can interact to create an equilibrium.
NK: Also Balance has something to do with the sound in a way, thinking about how you use the balance tool to move the sounds from left to right, and that relates to a soundtrack we developed with a Chilean music label, Regional, to add a new layer to the artwork. Besides all of these elements, Balance also has a lot to do with how we mix analogue and digital techniques and how these interact to add two different visions and create an encounter between them. We can create this ambience, this little piece of our culture, with all these tools, elements and layers.
JM: The art show was amazing! Any ideas on what you will do next?
PG: We are happy to have many upcoming projects, both in Chile and New York for exhibitions! The first one has to do with the first 10 years of our careers. We want to do a retrospective with this decade of art, traveling, sharing and experimenting, with many friends and artists around the world. The other plan has to do with a teaching method we’ve created in the past 9 years of work. We are also screen printing teachers in Chile and we seek to plant seeds doing screen printing classes in Chile with all we’ve learned in the different places and residencies that we’ve been to. For New York, we have plans to present a show at Gowanus Print Lab soon. We want to share our work here after two years of working, experimenting and sharing with the GPL community, so that you can enjoy this immersive art experience from South America.
NK: We are also working with a music duo from Berlin, who invited us to develop the graphic and visual part of their project. Another plan is that we are going to make art in public spaces in Santiago and NYC, so we are planning a couple of projects in those areas. We are also always planning things with our friends from Mesh Print Studio in New Rochelle and Local Project Art Space in Queens for the next time we come back to NYC.
JM: Lastly, what is your best advice for the young emerging artists out there?
PG: From my perspective, I think the best advice to anyone thinking of dedicating their life to this area is to persevere a lot, put forth a lot of effort, because people won’t always understand why you chose this path. Second: innovate. I think it’s very important to dare to make different things, create, believe, share, experiment and always try to make different things and believe in yourself, believe in what you do and what life can give you. Also, putting love into what you do is very important.
NK: I also believe, besides what Paula mentioned, that experimenting is very important, giving shape to what you want to communicate. I also think that learning is very important, either by taking lessons, sharing or collaborating with other artists or using the tools you’ve learned in the past… everything you take and learn from your past can be useful!
Check out Nacho’s work here, and Paula’s work here!
Interview by Ellie Downey with Federico Massa a.k.a iena Cruz
What brought you to Gowanus Print Lab?
I wanted to create samples of my own patterns and then later to produce wallpaper patterns and textiles.
How has your experience been at GPL?
I have been here for six weeks. It has been a wonderful experience for me. I took the Screen Printing 101 class but I mostly worked in the studio outside of class time. Sean and Rob the teachers were always nearby to help. In particular it has been really productive working by myself and always having somebody around to help me if I needed. I’ve been experimenting more, experimenting with repetition mostly.
I have learned all of the pre-printing methods both practically and digitally – for example, the photoshop and illustrator skills needed to print on acetate for screen printing. Throughout the six week 101 class I have been very focused and i’m happy to say, I never messed up on prints. I also got to learn and experiment with different kinds of inks and pigments.
Can you introduce us to your artwork and printing style?
I started out my practice as a Graffiti artist and street artist. I worked in an art factory with 15 different artists in Milan called “The Bag Art Factory”, which was made up of sculptors, painters and set designers, carrying out exhibitions and projects in Milan, Italy.
In the last few years my work focused on climate issues and global warming with depictions of animals. I want to give a voice to animals with my work, in particular endangered species that have to pay the price of human error.
I don’t have a printing style as of yet I think – but I am interested in creating patterns and working with repetitions. My painting style is a mix of both the graphic and pictorial. It’s very colorful with sharp lines.
In printmaking I had to avoid using a lot of colors. I had to be more selective with my color choices which led me to adopting a more graphic approach.
It was challenging to change my painting style into 3-4 colors and I had to come up with other ideas to reduce colors. During my time at GPL I tried CYMK printing. It was challenging and although I got a good result, I couldn’t exactly match the color of my original design. I found the process requires a lot of time and experience. It is really important to make sure everything is registered and I found this method very similar to doing stencils. I would like to try it again soon now that I know the basics, and the amount of time it will take for projects based on my experience.
Tell us about the projects that you completed during your time at GPL!
I Worked a lot on my project of creating patterns, where I created samples of repeatable patterns with different inks. I created 10-13 different samples which I will show to various fabric and wallpaper producers. I then completed different versions of my design. I am happy to say that my mission is completed!
I did not find a difference between printing a pattern style or real design – I was always using three or four colors as I stuck to the same method throughout my experimentation.
I learned how to create my own color by mixing pigments and bases and when I started making my own colors in this way the process became really fun.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/shows coming up that we should know about?
Yes! I am going to Japan very soon where I have a show in Tokyo. Below is more information:
It was so great chatting with you about your practice Federico!
To find out more you can visit Federico’s website, instagram and facebook pages here, and you can contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
iena Cruz will also be one of the artists participating in the upcoming show at GPL on Saturday, May 20th: ALLERGY SEASON x GPL POP UP SHOW. More details to follow!! We hope to see you all there!
Cleaning your screen properly can make the difference between your screen lasting 15 years and your screen lasting two months. Just in case you’ve ever stared at the power washer in utter frustration for not doing its job, check yourself and follow these simple steps!
Step 1: CLEAN OUT ALL THE INK. Though plastisol ink can stay in the screen for longer (unlike water based ink), it is crucial that all ink gets cleaned off both the screen and the frame. Any ink stuck in the creases or edges of the screen and/or frame will cause problems later. Remember that 5 extra minutes of cleaning, could save you time and money later!
Step 2: RECLAIMER. Reclaimer is intended for removing emulsion. However, it needs to sit on the screen for a bit to really do its job. Scrub reclaimer well on both sides and let it sit for a few minutes. Letting the chemical do it’s job should make the job easier, even though you may be spending a minute more of your time. If you do not have a backlit wash out station, simply find a source of light and hold the screen to it to make sure all the contaminates and particles are out of the screen completely. Scrub well on both sides and let the chemical sit for a few minutess
Step 3: HAZE. There are different kinds of haze remover. At GPL, we use EnviroHaze, which is not as strong as the industrial stuff, but is much better for the environment and far less toxic. Haze removes the shadows or ghost images on your screen. You want to make sure you are able to see plenty of light through your screen to ensure it will print properly! Once again, scrub well on both sides and let the chemical sit for a few moments.
Step 4: DEGREASER. Degreasing your screen is arguably the most important step, since it removes the oil and any leftover chemicals, allowing emulsion to sit properly on your screen. For this step, scrub well on both sides (you don’t have to let it sit). Rinse well, set to dry and your screen will thank you later!
NOTE: Also, start with Degreaser for brand new screens.
HAPPY SCREEN PRINTING!!!!!!
JM:What brought you to GPL? How’d you hear about us?
KK: My work here started out a year ago when I decided to quit my job. I was working as a graphic designer in children’s wear for about fifteen years. In my last job, I was working for a retail brand based out of Israel.
JM: I lived there myself for nine months. Where in Israel were you based?
KK: I worked for a company called Delta Kids, its all over Israel. I was there for about a year and a half. Creatively it was a great experience for me because I was in charge of all the graphics for infants, toddlers, all the way up through teenagers, boy and girl. So I have all of this experience with designing graphics, and on the side I was doing my own artwork and just trying to find a balance there. Unfortunately, it was never happening. I was always too busy with my job. So, I finally decided it was time to make a shift, and focus more on my own work. A lot of friends and coworkers began encouraging me to start putting my own stuff up on Etsy. I decided to quit my job and work on creating an Etsy shop.
JM: How are you enjoying it so far? I can imagine it must be a challenging experience.
KK: Yeah, but it’s a start! First, I needed to learn to screen print. I found GPL on an internet search, and thought “Oh! This seems like a really cool place”.
JM: So you decided to drop in for a visit?
KK: Actually, I signed up for the Intro to Screen Printing class.
JM: Oh cool! When did you take it?
KK: Almost a year ago. Remy, who was running the shop here at the time invited me to an art opening that you guys were having, so I stopped by. She showed me around the space and then I did the class. I just really enjoy screen printing. I’ve been designing for fifteen years and I never knew how to actually make these things myself. It felt really fun and natural to make the shift into doing it myself, and over the past year I’ve come in with all sorts of small projects. Another thing was that I’ve always wanted to get back to having my own space, and be able to creatively work on my own projects, so it also felt like a natural transition to get my own space here and work full time.
JM: I have two emerging questions that are more personal. First of all, what gave you the courage to break out of a job you’d been doing for such a long time and do something like this, especially with big responsibilities such as having a family? From what I can imagine that’s probably really stressful and it’s a huge decision.
KK: It was. Having a small child who’s getting older and older who looks up to me and sees this person who is miserable in her job, who never has time to be at home, I just felt like it wasn’t worth the sacrifice anymore. Luckily, I have a partner who supports me financially, emotionally, and professionally who was willing to take that leap and cover the slack for me while I found my way around. It was a lot of work. Like I said, it’s been a year since I first made this decision, and I’ve had to go back to my previous industry and take freelance work. I actually had to take a full time job for three months because most fashion retail companies frown very strongly upon the idea of part time work or freelance work or working from home- they want to own you. That’s what pushed me out of that industry in the first place. They want me full time, fine, I’ll give them full time, for three months. Until I can get things back on track.
JM: In other words, you’re never really going full time unless you sign yourself away to them for three years, you’re just testing out the waters and then you can walk away.
KK: So I walked away again, and found some other forms of work, I applied to this restaurant a few blocks away from my house and started it off with that. Just making almost no money at the time, but at least making something. I slowly worked my way up into some good shifts at the restaurant. And suddenly out of nowhere an old boss of mine contacted me who works at an up-and-coming children’s wear company called ‘Lamaze Baby’ and it was like a small miracle. She was like “I actually only need someone…part time…work from home…freelance.”
JM: I just graduated school in May and I’ve been going from job-to-job-to-job. I studied art theory and creative writing. I was ready to freelance. I didn’t want a nine to five at all, but I knew I had to try it, to financially sustain myself, for the feeling of security. It’s a weird feeling. Some of the happiest people I know are fine artists who work part-time jobs elsewhere. My boyfriend is a dog walker during the day and my friend works in a coffee shop but she’s a professional actor. Another friend studied sculpture who’s freelancing around, barely making ends meet, but still working on his stuff. It’s really inspiring because you try to explain that to somebody who hasn’t gone down that road before. They all have these tough jobs, but they’re all really secure. They have safety, but they’re not necessarily thrilled with their jobs. I guess this works for them, but I think it’s really brave, especially years out of school, to change your trajectory. That’s why I’m really curious about how it affects you, being a woman who has a family, and still feeling like you can do this.
KK: I think a year ago I would have felt like “I don’t know how to do this, but I need to do this because I’m dying inside”. Two years ago I would have never even considered that I would be where I am right now.
JM: So you got to this place of “I can’t do this one more day”, and you were starving for the next thing, even though you didn’t know if it was going to work. It was at that point where the change happened.
KK: Yeah it was. I literally woke up the day after New Years and thought “I have to go back to work tomorrow and I can’t get out of bed right now. I have to go back to this toxic job, and back to this industry and just the general routine of getting on the subway and spending more time in an office with people who don’t appreciate me, who are making millions of dollars off of me, paying me next to nothing and expecting the world of me.” I was slowly dying inside and it sunk in. “My family is witnessing this. No. I’m not going to spend another day doing this to myself.” The next day I emailed my boss – “I’m not coming in today, here is my final notice.”
KK: I gave them one month’s notice. I started working with my life coach, Melanie Curtis, for three months to help me guide myself in the right direction with my thinking and my habits. To make a huge change like that it takes more than just courage and support from family. You really have to be prepared to uproot a lot of negative stuff in your life that’s been pushing you in the wrong direction.
JM: The type of stuff that you don’t really want to dump on your family either.
KK: I had to get rid of friendships, unhealthy habits of my own. There was a lot that came with it, I like to refer to it as spring cleaning, let’s just put it that way.
JM: I love that, I love that you can do that at…
KK: …at thirty eight years old?
JM: I mean my parents had me at thirty eight, like, people just have totally different tracks and it’s really interesting. I was just listening to a podcast. Norma Kamali is in her seventies, and she was talking about how she thought she couldn’t find a soul mate anymore. She’d been married and divorced once or twice, maybe three times. So she was saying “If I’m sixty years old and I don’t find a soul mate, oh well! I don’t believe in that idea,” and she met someone at sixty five and said “I’ve never felt like this toward anyone before, and I fell in love at sixty five, who knows what could happen!” It was just really cute. It’s that idea, the concept of time melting away. I feel it and I’m twenty four and I just graduated and I already feel like, ‘damn I’m not doing any of the things I thought I would be doing at twenty four’.
KK: The one thing that has kept me from falling into that trap, with my fine arts is…One of my biggest inspirations, artist Louise Bourgeois.
JM: I love her, I love her, she’s one of my favorites too!
KK: I wouldn’t compare my art to hers, except for maybe the underlying feminism in it. I always remind myself, this was a woman who was doing her art her whole life and I believe, didn’t become famous until she was in her seventies or eighties. You can reach your peak at any time, I’d prefer to reach my peak later in life than have it come and go when I’m young and then have nothing else to look forward to.
JM: That’s a cool perspective, especially hearing it as a young person, and hearing about people in the community who’ve started a gallery, possibly with their parents money, when they were like twenty seven and hit thirty five and all of a sudden they’re like “I’ve done everything!” That’s so sad, it’s cool that you’ve gotten so successful at such a young age but it’s a bit tragic to feel that way. It has the potential to build complacency, and I don’t really ever want to feel that way. So that’s really interesting. Your perspective is refreshing!
KK: So that’s my ambition for myself. It’s to peak. I haven’t hit that yet.
JM: And you don’t want to yet, right?
KK: No I don’t, I feel like I’m getting to the point where I’m ready for it because really when success comes you need to be ready. And I certainly wasn’t ready when I was younger, I thought I was, but I wasn’t.
JM: So this is a great segway into my next question! I want to know a little bit about your work and the way you use your medium. What’s your process like?
KK: It started out with oil paints and as drawings. When I was in my twenties I never finished art school. I met a friend at my first graphics job. I had just gotten my first studio and she offered to come teach me how to use oil paints. I’ve always been kind of a self taught artist in a way and it just felt so natural, the way that the paints work with my style of art. So I started to get into painting with oils, and that’s been my medium for probably ten years now. I just go with my natural instincts most of the time.
JM: Who would you say your audience is? Do you have an audience?
KK: I don’t know who my audience is. I feel like I don’t really have much of an audience yet. I think my audience right now is the Dumbo artist community, because that’s where I used to work and I’ve only done shows around that area in connection with the people that I knew in Dumbo. So my art has kind of been hidden, in a way. I haven’t really had the chance to put it out there yet.
JM: Yeah, you want to feel like you have a lot to show. Actually less a lot to show, and more a feeling of pride in what you have to show. Quality over quantity.
KK: Yes! So there’s that, and then now that I’m discovering screen printing it’s a whole new medium and with my graphics background it feels like I can see myself in a year’s time taking the ideas behind my fine art and translating it into graphics and doing a more accessible line of my work with screen printing on totes, or clutches, or other items.
JM: That sounds great.
KK: So that’s one of my goals for being in this space, is using the tools that you guys have here and meeting the wonderful friendly people who will hopefully teach me what the hell to do. So, yeah this is a new medium that I would like to add to my resume.
JM: You will definitely learn a lot! Most definitely ask all the questions you can! I know this is such a cheesy question, but what is some advice you’d give to somebody, regardless of age, who feels stuck in their career, and doesn’t have the option financially, or the support from family to leave their job. Do you think they should leave anyway? I know this is a tough question…
KK: It depends. You have to have a clear idea of what you want to do next. There can be a lot of options to work on those others things on the side while you continue to work. Mainly I think its just being willing to take that leap and doing whatever you need to do to fill in the spaces until your fully ready to go in the direction you want to pursue.
JM: I think that’s great advice.
KK: I was just going to add also, when we were talking about Louise Bourgeois, I had the chance to meet her in person.
JM: Did you see the documentary on her?
KK: Yeah, a friend invited me to go to one of her salons that she would hold on Sunday in her house in Chelsea. So I lugged one of my big 30×40 paintings to her house in Chelsea, from Dumbo, and sat with a group of other artists and waited my turn.
JM: Did they all bring their work?
KK: She would invite different artists every week to critique to come and meet with her and she would give them critiques on their work.
JM: That’s a great opportunity.
KK: She was known for being very outspoken and critical of their work so my experience with showing her my work was being brought to tears in the best way possible. She actually loved my work, and kept interrupting other artists to ask me to bring my painting back out for her to get another look at it.
JM: Wow, so which one did you bring?
KK: It’s one of my older ones. Here I’ll show it to you.
KK: That was the moment where I started to take my work more seriously. I began to think and feel that maybe I have something unique that I’m trying to say, and if an incredible, inspiring artist like Louise Bourgeois sees that in me then there must be something there. So it’s interesting when you said that you could see the fundamental feeling behind my work being similar to what she did with her work.
JM: That is so inspiring! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me today.
KK: Thank you.
Artists Diane Azrak and Arlette Tebele give us some insight on their upcoming show this monthInterview with Jenny Morris
JM: Is this your first exhibition?
DA: I’ve exhibited pieces in local community shows here and there, but this would be my first big show exhibiting over 3 pieces of work.
AT: I’ve been featured in a couple of different exhibitions. My favorite one was actually aired on Million Dollar Listings! However, this is the first time where the exhibit is featuring just me and one other artist, which is pretty exciting!
JM: Cool! So, what brought you to GPL? What are you most hoping to gain from the community?
DA: Arlette actually brought me to GPL. We’ve been wanting to collaborate for a while and had hopes of working on a show together. So, when she was presented with the opportunity to work in the space, she introduced me to the lab.
AT: A friend of mine had seen my art and thought i’d be perfect for the space, which naturally led to this exhibition. I’m hoping to become more familiar with the process of exhibiting, and and all the work that it involves. I’m also excited to meet cool and new people within the art industry and hopefully get inspired by their visions and creations!
JM: Great, so let’s delve more into your own work and process! What kind of mediums do you like to work in, what inspires you, and what brought you to the point of wanting to publicly show your work?
DA: I’ve always had a close relationship to photography. My uncle, who is a photographer, bought me my first camera for my 9th birthday and has been my mentor ever since. I’ve grown up documenting my life with my point and shoot digital cameras long before iPhones and Snapchat. Over time, I’ve noticed my sensitivity for light and detail have been a consistent thread through my work. I’m very inspired by memory and moments and the role photography plays within capturing that, as well as using images to convey a visual language. Being so inspired by light, i’ve begun to experiment with colored and neon lights, looking for ways to bridge the relationship of light and sculpture to photography. Photography has taken such a digital route as social media and technology have taken over, and i’d like to bring materiality back into the medium by making more sculptural works.
AT: My work is mainly a collection of playful and nostalgic pieces. The overall theme for the work tends to focus on the idea of not taking life too seriously. I love having fun, and honestly never want to grow up! All the art I do is experimental. I try as I go, and if I mess something up – that’s art too. I use a wide range of mediums from spray paint to digital illustration. I use stickers, comic books, skateboards, anything that catches my eye, really! I’ve always wanted to do my own show, but never felt like I had the guts to actually do it. But when I got this opportunity, I immediately accepted, and I couldn’t be more excited!
JM: We are so psyched to have you both! Can you tell us a little bit about how collaborative work has shaped you as artists?
DA: Collaboration has always been a big part of my work and process. Whether it be with other artists like Arlette, or collaborating on ideas with mentors and peers I find there is always something to be learned and seen through the eyes of others. In this case, I think collaborating with Arlette and seeing the way she works with color and illustration, as opposed to my more monochromatic and raw style has led me to see my work in an entirely new way.
AT: In my opinion, collaborative work is one of the highlights of being an artist. Two people share their ideas and turn them into creation. It’s a lot of fun to unite perspectives and watch them come to life. I definitely feel like I benefit personally every time I work with another artist, whether it be through learning new techniques, gaining new ideas, or even sharing a bond.
JM: Amazing. Do you see yourselves using screen printing as a medium in future works?
DA: I definitely think screen printing screen printing will be a part of my process later on. I already have begun thinking of a project that it would be useful for and love the idea that the process is so mechanical and exact.
AT: One hundred percent! I’ve been looking into screen printing for a while. Andy Warhol, the master screen printer, is an artist who deeply inspires me. I love the way screen printing captures an element of art that can’t be done otherwise. I would love to get involved with screen printing.
JM: Where do you see your projects going after this?
DA: I’ve been working on a large self titled book for Memoir Noir, which will incorporate most of the work in this show, along with many other images I’ve been taking like them over the years. As well as continuing to work and experiment with light and sculpture in relation to photography, creating that relationship, allowing the work to live in a physical space, as well as creating something truly unique that the art world has not yet seen.
AT: Hmmm…this is a tough one. Honestly, wherever the wind takes me! I don’t really tend to think too hard about the future, because I enjoy fully being immersed in the moment. I do however always see art in my future. Being involved with art is a part of who I am.
JM: Sounds so exciting, and see you at the show!
Artist Terri Frohman talks about her past, process, and new studio space at the Gowanus Print Lab
Interview with Victoria Wallace
VW: To start, how would you describe what the brand name “Meraki” represents for you to viewers that don’t know your work?
TF: “Meraki” is a Greek word that means to do something with passion, with creativity; to soulfully put yourself into whatever you’re doing. It could be cooking, making art, etc., but it’s a lifestyle. I was digging around trying to find one word that would represent all of the words that I wanted to be, and “Meraki” kind of envelopes all of those ideas. It describes my work in terms of the content and philosophy, but it doesn’t really describe the materials I work with. You really have to see the work.
VW: And in that instance too your work kind goes back and forth between both two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces–what’s your process? At what point do you decide on materials?
TF: I kind of fell into working with leather on accident. I was an art teacher for eleven years and someone in a forum on Facebook said that they were giving away hundreds of pieces of leather. So I drove out to Long Island, met this woman I had never seen before, and I picked up hundreds of pieces of leather that have been stored in my car ever since. I’ve since been able to experiment with that process and transform these flat pieces of leather by putting prints on them, painting on them, and transforming them into these three-dimensional pouches and purses. That’s the sculpture aspect to my work–building these pieces up into something that’s tangible.
VW: Is it important to you for your work to be accessible to viewers rather than in a gallery setting? Your three-dimensional works are hand-held objects that, as a viewer, I could literally keep my coins in and use it at the grocery store…it’s a different realm than other forms of art.
TF: I want all of my artwork to be accessible, not only to be able to touch it, feel it, and be close to it, but I want people to be able to afford it. I find that art can be intimidating for a lot of people, especially when you walk into a gallery that’s stark white–you can’t touch anything, step near anything, it’s very sterile. There’s this great distance between the viewer and the work and I feel like sometimes that distance can intimidate people. Maybe the work is perceived to be more arrogant or confident than you are, when really the whole point is to share, to touch, and to be connected with whatever the piece is.
VW: I think Meraki emulates that belief as well and your passion to create accessible work. What ultimately brought you to Gowanus Print Lab?
TF: I knew that I wanted to take an art class and I am a huge Grouponer, I am a discount girl. I was shopping around and I chose the Basic Screen printing class. I had previously known how to print but I was kind of wary about going to someone else’s studio and pretty much two days later I signed up for a monthly pass…
VW: And you knew right away that this was where you wanted to work?
TF: That was it.
VW: How did you stumble into having your own studio at the Gowanus Print Lab?
TF: It was vacant, I knew what I could afford, I also knew I had bigger plans for my work. I started to not be able to store things properly, I needed a bit more space, and I needed some privacy. This is my full-time job and now this is my office.
VW: Do you have any exciting upcoming projects that have stemmed (or are stemming) from having this studio space?
TF: Yeah, a lot of collaborations are happening and I’m able to use this space as a photography studio, to have conversations like this, collaborative discussions, choosing leather colors with clients, looking at all of my samples, and buying things straight from this space. So I think that it’s really opened up every single door and has added an openness to my work now where I can invite people to look at things on a much more intimate level.
I’ve really reached out to other vendors–I’ve been selling at flea markets. Even Etsy is maybe ten percent of any of my networking and I’m trying to boost it anyway that I can. I’m a very in person gal, so I’ve signed up for four holiday flea markets. Two of them are in Park Slope: one is at Brooklyn Friends’ School and the other is which is an “Eat Pie and Shop” event at PS 321. I just did one on Albany and I’m hoping to do another one at King’s Trading Company in Greenpoint. I’m doing a lot with local vendors and learning a lot from each other. There’s a small community of people who are coming up, there’s a community of people who are already up there, and so all of us are wrangling our ideas together. That’s what I hope to bring together when I eventually start “Handmade in Brooklyn,” which will be a meet-up once a month for female creatives to gather with some boss ladies and talk about our experiences, best practices, share our work with each other, share where and how we sell, all that kind of stuff.
VW: I think that again totally circles back to your love for accessibility for your viewers and even further connecting artists in the future rather than entertain a competitive environment. It’s absolutely about owning you the cards that you have or the ones you’ve been dealt, and sharing them.
TF: Yeah, I have yet to even be at a competitive flea market thus far. The best experience I’ve had with women sharing with women was at King’s Trading Company.They were by far the most inclusive group of small business owners and sellers that I have ever been a part of and that’s really when I solidified the idea to start “Handmade in Brooklyn” because I want to be closer to other women who are following the same dream. I hope to have that launch after the holidays so that we can give each other more feedback. Meraki NYC will be one year old and I’m hoping to showcase the tangible leather products and goods, prints that I created before the leather series, and large patches of leather with prints on them but not in a three-dimensional form.
VW: Almost like paintings and a culmination of your work this far…?
VW: You branched this business pretty recently and quickly at that, do you have advice for people that are looking to take that same professional jump?
TF: My professional jump came out of near necessity. I left the classroom but am still passionate about arts education. I received a lot of encouragement from my family to go into this sort of business. Things have been moving very fast for me. I think the advice I would give is to have some sort of organization to the madness, for sure. I think that having a studio space helps me to organize, whether it’s through Instagram, people reaching out via email, conversations that develop on the street, whatever it might be. But having some kind of grounded space is really important.
ARTIST LOVEMKM TALKS ABOUT HER UP COMING SOLO EXHIBITION AT GOWANUS PRINT LAB
Interview with Victoria Wallace
VW: Tell us about your upcoming show! Is it your first exhibition?
MK: Yes! It’s my first solo show. I’ve been making art “officially” for two years, in a way that I quit my full-time job solely to make art. For a long time I’ve been saying I wanted to do a solo show but I was never really prepared for it. This past summer I didn’t do much creative work but did a lot of personal work and took time for myself. I came in one day to work with Remy (studio manager) and said, “I think I want to do a solo show here,” and she said, “okay, yeah!” and it just happened. I had the courage to ask and she said yes, and the puzzle pieces had locked in together at that time, but it had been a long-term goal for me for at least a year.
VW: Absolutely, so do you think being at the Gowanus Print Lab had a lot to do with locking in a solo show in that respect?
MK: Oh my gosh, yes. I became a member here in November of 2014 and took the 6 week screen printing class. I didn’t even know how to screen print before then but I wanted to create street art, and screen printing is a great method for making editions. And then I was here all the time, I got to know all of the employees, I started working here, and one thing lead to another and now I feel like Gowanus (Print Lab) is like my second home. It was a really inviting and cool space for me and I definitely felt welcomed here. When I started screen printing here on the regular I needed some help with little things like Photoshop and the employees and other members here were so generous with their knowledge and just so kind. A lot of people that work here have seen me come from making the very first print to what the culmination of the show is, so I’m honored to be able to do it and grateful to the print lab for letting me take over. It’s so special because this is where I created literally everything that’s about to be displayed so it’s kind of got that really cool element.
VW: You started originally with street art for print making and your “Love Yourself” print can be stumbled across by many out in the world. Similarly, your solo show is titled “Emotional Rescue,” do you think the same self-love based message translates in your work right now?
MK: Absolutely, when I started making art I was utilizing as a form of self expression and when I started the “Love Yourself” street art it was a way for me to express my own journey and a way for me to share something publicly that I was really working on. People see the “Love Yourself” street art all the time and people can translate it whatever it means to them. I remember at a time when I was living and working in the city and feeling so down all the time–so when I started the “Love Yourself” street art I decided to put something out there that I’ve struggled with and I’m going to let other people see it and maybe it can make a positive impact on somebody else’s day. “Love Yourself,” “Emotional Rescue,” the whole point is how I basically quit doing everything else in my life and dedicated myself to self-love, healing, and getting through things within myself that needed addressing.
VW: Do you see the printmaking process as a way to work through these feelings? More specifically how does the printmaking process translate for you and why is it your medium of choice?
MK: Printmaking as an art form can be very tedious–it requires a lot of thought and a lot of set-up. When I’m tackling a print job I very much enjoy the mechanical nature of it. All of those little processes make it feel like something is happening and I’m making something that is going to be put into the public. Alternatively, a lot of the paintings I make allow me to express myself incredibly quick and that’s a really good alternative to the technical screen printing process. Sometimes I’ll even screen print on top of those canvases after painting on them with plastisol. Overall it is very therapeutic to be in this shared space and to be around artists and other people that are creating.
VW: Do you see this series of work continuing after “Emotional Rescue”?
MK: I’ve been thinking about that a lot myself–”Emotional Rescue” is going to tie up the first two years of my art in a nice little package and I don’t know what the next project is going to be. I’ve been working a lot with textile designs, and I’ll be wearing a dress at the event that’s made from one of my fabrics. I think I’m going to try more with fabric design and use “LoveMKM,” “Love Yourself,” and all of those elements as a little bit more of a branding. In my dream world I would love to do a collaboration with a label the way Gucci is working with Trouble Andrew right now and create a capsule collection to express my creativity that way with the support of a major, already functioning fashion label.
VW: And do you have any advice for artists that are absolutely terrified to quit their day jobs and jump into becoming a full-time artist?
MK: I planned it out for a really long time–I had a career in fashion retail management on 5th Avenue and grew dissatisfied with my career path so I started to create an exit plan for myself. It took nearly five years, and at first I wasn’t scared at all, and then after I was making art full-time I was terrified. There were a lot of emotional ups and downs and I’d say for anyone looking into it to make a plan and be prepared, and that’s the best thing that you can do. I’d like to thank the people who have come together to help make my show a dream come true. First of all, the staff at Gowanus Print Lab, obvi. Special shout out to Remy and Brian (studio owner)! Catherine Taveras, my show producer; Jeff Beler, the curator; and Angel Green at Mivida Market. Not only are these awesome people my friends, but great professionals at what they do. Thank you all and the millions of others I couldn’t list here!
Bob Bland, long-time member at Gowanus Print Lab and founder/ CEO of Manufacture New York stopped by the studio this week to talk about the election and why “Nasty Women Vote”.
Text by Reuters
T-shirts inspired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “such a nasty woman” comment on Democrat Hillary Clinton in last week’s debate were flying off internet retailers’ shelves, offering a possible hint on the Nov. 8 election result.
Speaking on Monday (October 24) at Gowanus Print Lab in Brooklyn, New York, Bob Bland, CEO and founder of Manufacture NY and nastywoman.co, said that demand came swiftly. “Pretty much all women in the country (went), ‘I could not believe when he said that.’ And so immediately I started thinking to myself, ‘Oh shoot, if she’s a nasty woman, so am I.’ So is like basically everyone I know who I respect and think is cool. So I guess we’re all nasty women, right?” she said.
Bland created nastywoman.co the morning after Trump’s comments and within 48 hours, nearly 1,500 orders of T-shirts and totes with the words “Nasty Women Vote” were placed and she’s already been able to give $20,000 (USD) to reproductive healthcare provider Planned Parenthood.
Everything except for the actual cost of making and shipping the T-shirts goes to charity, she said. “A lot of the people that are involved with us, the main reason why they bought a shirt is because they’re thinking, ‘It would be so fun to wear a nasty woman T-shirt on Election Day.’ And if it helps people to have a reason to go and vote on Election Day, that’s even more exciting to me because, you know, a lot of us have felt not really excited about the election this time, especially those of us who were really rooting for Senator Sanders. And so for us to be able to find another reason to coalesce, to come together and step out and vote on November 8th is really exciting,” Bland said.
After the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday (October 19), Trump’s “nasty woman” comment gave life to a new merchandise line aimed at assailing him.
Purchase a shirt here!
WRITER AARON NARDI FROM ‘THE HUNDREDS’ GOT TO VISIT DAVE AT GOWANUS PRINT LAB.
While in NYC, I was pretty stoked to meet up with Dave Ortiz and check out his new studio. If you didn’t know, Dave has a long history in fashion, streetwear, and art/design from being Zoo York employee number 1, to starting DQM, designing the Bacon Air Max 90, creating Dave’s Wearhouse, and a number of other projects. He’s a smart dude who is funny and works hard, so it’s always a pleasure to hang with him. I’ve known Dave for a few years and he’s always learning and excelling at new things, which I find inspiring.
I showed up at Gowanus Print Lab just in time to see Dave roll up on a bike fumbling with his bottle of Schweppes.
It takes about 25 minutes for Dave to to get to Gowanus, Brooklyn, whether he rides or takes the train. So whenever possible, he’s riding. And of course he shows up on a special edition (not for sale) SE Bikes X PBR collab, which I was hyped on just a few days earlier.
Walking into Gowanus Print Lab, I was already pretty stoked. I was overwhelmed with all the possibility and just I wish I had a spot like this. Gowanus Print Lab is a co-op screen print shop that allows artists to come in and create, so they don’t need their own space and everything that goes with it. They also offer a limited number of private spaces to a few lucky artists.
“I love working here—it’s amazing I can make a mess! Plus, I met my new friends Maya and Tyler here, and they taught me everything.”
Dave explained, “Getting the residency at Gowanus Print Lab was such a great challenge and opportunity,” while praising Brian for helping him out with it.
Once in his space, Dave changed out of his street clothes and into his work clothes and embraced his biggest fan. I found the whole scenario practical, yet funny, and 100% Dave.
As long as I’ve known of Dave, he’s always been into different forms of art. While discussing different mediums and styles, he expands, “I treat my art like the city I love and live in, New York City. It has a little bit of everything and I’m curious about everything. When I decide on a project, it is all based on feeling, an observation, or what occupies my thoughts at the time. My girlfriend says I live in the moment—she is usually right. My favorite mediums are painting, drawing, and now printmaking. I’m also working on my first interactive installation… Let’s see how this will turn out.”
It’s pretty rad to see someone not only learning a new art form, but being comfortable enough to put it out there right away without overthinking things.
I was a big fan of one of Dave’s previous shows, so I was stoked to see the piece still on his wall. Dave on the work:
“LAW JOURNALS started years ago when I found this law book, Corpus Juris Law, in the street… I started to draw in this book as if it were a sketchbook, which made me think about the way art and law function. To me, it’s like both worlds—art and law—are on the same plane, but just on other parts of the spectrum. The more law you know, the easier it is to work it in your favor, same goes with art; the more you know, you can guide or manipulate the viewer to see what you want them to see. So I felt the pages of this law book would be a perfect foundation for my drawings.”
As Dave showed me around, we talked a bit about my background and printmaking, which we both found entertaining as we had a very similar beginnings. He said, “I knew some stuff about printmaking because I always made T-shirts, so I kinda knew how it worked, but never did it myself. But I didn’t get really into until I got selected for the artist residency at the Gowanus Print Lab.”
Already knowing the graphics, computer, and how to screen shirts, it wasn’t that difficult for me personally to transition to printmaking. But it was very cool to see the process of Dave learning everything at once.
“Oh there’s a curve… I can do 10 color prints now. But I worked real hard on this… long hours, every day. It’s funny because you have to be very concentrated and remember all these things in order to make a print. There is so much involved, it’s crazy. Everyone who knows me knows details; concentration and me are a challenge. But I love and live for colors. So surprisingly I learned real fast.”
My background in printing shirts brought up a funny story from Dave: “Now that I learned about setting up to print, I realized how much work went into it all. I wrote my old print maker from DQM days and apologized for bitching about set up fees. He laughed and called me a prick, but I think he appreciated my call.”
I was really feeling the various Goya products and prints Dave was working on. While you can see the pop-Warhol influence, they definitely have their own distinct style. He amusingly confirmed, “I started with the Goya print series as a play on Andy Warhol—you know, the Puerto Rican version. But obviously I was not the first one with this idea as I quickly found out. There are, of course, a couple of other dope artists who worked on the CAN.”
I wanted to know why he dedicated so much focus to one brand. “The more I experimented with the medium and the images, the more I realized how much these crazy Goya products actually stand for in my life—[and] pretty much all Spanish people. So I chose all the products that signify certain Boricua qualities from my life and my family. And I enjoyed merging silk screen-printing techniques with some of my “sloppy” painting style. I’ve really enjoyed mixing and finding these strong color matches.”
After a bit, even Dave’s biggest fan couldn’t keep up with the Brooklyn heat, so we headed outside for a break. I asked Dave, after everything he’s done in streetwear and fashion, how or why did his form of expression come back to art in such a big way?
“Art is my first language, the one I can actually spell everything how I want to….”
This led to a discussion of what art means to both of us. Interestingly, we both have somewhat vague, yet decisive views on art. “Art. Life. Colors. Lines. Thoughts. Stories. Always interesting. Sometimes I can relate. Other times not. But I cannot and don’t want to stop creating and experiencing it. Ever.”
After heading inside, Dave started to set up some screens to pull. I didn’t want to invade his space while he was physically creating, so we parted as he explained what he’s up to.
“I’m working on the next part of the Goya project—an interactive art installation called Bodega Ortiz featuring my work, my real life Puerto Rican family, and of course, Goya product. We are hoping to present later this year or spring of next year; a little help from Goya wouldn’t hurt. Besides that, I’m partner in Our/New York. We are going to open the first distillery in Manhattan since prohibition times—but that’s another story.”
I leave for Manhattan happy knowing I now have a few more reasons to come back to NYC and hang with Dave.