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.
EVERYONE HAD AN AMAZING TIME AT THE OPENING OF ‘BEGINNING’S END’ ON FEBRUARY 25TH. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS AND GIFS!
GPL: You draw on many influences. What are your top five most influential visuals?
ALS: The most important thing for creativity to flourish is to be open to inspiration from unexpected sources not just painting. I’ve had the privilege to try my hand in various creative fields—decorative arts, furniture design, interior design, and fine arts. I am also very interested in archeology and philosophy. The key for me is to sift through this rich visual history and to initiate dialogue between these disparate sources. For instance I try to imagine what would happen if a Renaissance artist like Piero Dela Francesca would interact with an artist like Matisse or Picasso. What would they say? How do their visions complement or fight each other? These hypothetical dialogues open up new avenues of artistic exploration that inform my work.
GPL: You seem to have an affinity for bunnies can you expound on that?
ALS: Its true I have a love for these perfect little creatures. I have two rabbits at home. One of the things I’ve discovered about rabbits is that they are much more curious and intelligent than most people give them credit for. So I imagine that while they are being ignored, they are secretly and silently observing all that goes on seen and unseen in this world. In the paintings they represent a sort of witness to that which normally lies hidden.
GPL: What do you watch/listen to while working?
ALS: I know I’m supposed to say I listen to something civilized like Mozart or Beethoven but the truth is I like House and Techno music. When I enter the studio I want to feel pumped like I am going in to do battle. I have a take no prisoners approach to painting.
GPL: Can you tell us about your process?
ALS: I have an enormous collection of photographs of things I’ve seen out and about. My eye is always exploring and documenting my surroundings. I find that the more I look, certain patterns emerge. I may be drawn to the same shape over and over that recurs in different contexts. This unconscious pull will eventually become more insistent until I sit down with a blank paper and begin to give life to a certain shape or persistent feeling. The final painting is really the result of probing these mysterious recurrences. Sometimes only after I give life to a certain image does its meaning become clearer to me. I believe that sense of unfolding discovery is evident in the paintings. I want the viewers to enter into a zone where things are simultaneously clear and opaque. A space where the painting and viewer begin to engage in their own emotional dialogue.
GPL: What work of yours are you most proud of?
ALS: The work I am most proud of is “What Lies Beneath 1”. In this painting we get a glimpse into a whole world that exists through the rabbit hole. This was the first painting where I really let go of technique and reason and just painted from my gut emotions. It was a revelation to me at the time that there were entire worlds I had access to just waiting to be born. All I had to do was let them speak through me without judgment. The work that has followed flowed from this insight.
GPL: Any advice for those who are just starting out?
ALS: Do not rush. There is no race and no experience good or bad is ever a waste. Do not compare yourself to others. Each artist has a unique piece of this puzzle we call life and consciousness. Focus in on what naturally sparks your interest rather than accept a certain style or vision presented to you. After studying art in school I didn’t have the means to make art and sustain a living. I subsequently spent ten years working in interior design and decorative arts in order to achieve a level of stability and confidence. The exposure and experience in these fields in turn sharpened my eyes. Working for myself also helped me to build my character and work ethic. Over time one must learn how to take risks and fail gracefully. Make sure to honor the needs of your body, emotions, and spirit. In this way you will find the necessary stillness to allow your creative voice to be heard.
Check out his work here.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
On view Thursday February 25th – March 20th, 2016 during studio hours.
Opening Reception Thursday February 25th 7-10pm.
Join the event here.
Gowanus Print Lab is pleased to announce Beginning’s End, a solo exhibition of the NYC based artist, Albert Leon Sultan.
Beginning’s End features 10 new large scale paintings that chronicles Albert Leon Sultan’s journey into understanding the underlying mechanics of our world. Sultan imagines a quantum flux animating the physical domain we perceive. In his paintings, Sultan suggests a reality in which the walls separating the physical from the metaphysical do no exist.
Sultan’s canvases are seeded with delightful paradoxes that coexist harmoniously. He seamlessly depicts worlds where time speeds up and slows down, where the ancient and the future flirt. He uses colors and textures to create a playground where the possible and impossible collide, dance, merge and separate.
Sultan’s paintings serve as a bridge between the seen and the unseen exposing the gears that move our existence. Sultan’s work energetically peels back the layers of human perception. What remains to be seen is both inspirational and revealing.
Albert Leon Sultan is a multidisciplinary artist and designer living and working in NYC. He is a graduate from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. He further studied drawing and painting with internationally renowned artist Israel Hershberg at the Jerusalem Studio School. In the ensuing years Sultan has distinguished himself in New York City’s competitive design community. His list of creative collaborations crosses over into the art, fashion, interior design and Broadway worlds. His furniture and interior designs have been featured in some of the nations leading publications including NY Spaces, Domino Magazine, House & Garden, Luxe, V&M Inc, Wall Street Journal, and NJ Monthly. Sultan’s paintings exhibit the same bold color and design sensibility that made his furniture pieces such a national sensation. Sultan ended off 2015 on a high note with his painting “The March of Time” selected as one of the year’s top ten pieces by The Huffington Post’s John Seed. His consistently unusual sense of style makes him an emerging artist to watch.