Marja-Leena Rathje
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virtual conversations


It's almost 1:00 am, and I'm up after two hours of trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep. These bouts of insomnia come and go, so I accept it and indulge in a cup of herbal tea, some reading and making notes. My thoughts return to recent email conversations with virtual friend, fellow artist-blogger Karen D'Amico**. We've discussed many things that concern artists - art processes, writing proposals, the challenges of making gallerists and curators understand our visions, being authentic, enjoying the variety of views of artists-bloggers and so on.

Here are some excerpts (hope you don't mind, Karen!):

Karen: "there is room for all different kinds of art, whether it be painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography or conceptual. To me, it's about looking at the world and making a response... how that is done should not be limited"

M-L: "It's funny how sometimes I feel my work is very deep and interesting and even somewhat leading edge in technique amongst printmakers at least, other times it seems so conservative! It depends on who looks at my work, whether that person has some knowledge of printmaking or not. Prints are not as highly regarded in the art world unfortunately, as are installation, video/new media and even painting."

Karen: "understand what you mean about printmaking. i have done very little of it, due to facilities (lack of) in college and then the work went in other directions. i love the hands-on of it though, and really enjoyed monoprinting, which is about as far as i got. then they even got rid of that press - everything is all digital now, which i think is a great shame. i also love the materiality of work on paper. imprinting, making a mark... one of these days i would like to get more involved with it..."

M-L: "Yes, I love printmaking for the same reasons, plus the textures and wide variety of ways to make prints keep it exciting for me. I used to do a lot of drawing and originally fell in love with printmaking because it's close to drawing. Monoprints are quick to do and closest to painting, something I get into sometimes when I'm in a hurry to get a lot of images and ideas down. Printmaking is darn slow! Though I'm doing some digital prints these days, I still like to combine them with the traditional print techniques to get that textured hand-made feel. I guess the subject matter (rocks) seems to call for it too."

"Thanks Karen, for confirming my feeling that we must do what we must do, the only authentic way to work."

As Karen said: "ain't bloggin' grand?"

Okay, now I think I'm ready for sleep!

** Reedited March 15th, 2013: Karen has not been at this blog address for some years, so link had been removed. I have now quite accidentally found her new eponymous website: Karen Ay

Marja-Leena | 06/07/2005 | 4 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Blogging, Printmaking


4 comments

Ever since I have gone to graduate school, I have been battleing with the same issues on printmaking. I am a devoted printmaker and everytime I have a professor come in or students critique my work, they always say, "why not make a video", or "an intallation would look great". Many people don't know how to look at prints without thinking it's a rectangle with something in it. I'm open to creating paper installations, non-square, digital formats, but I feel like I would be doing this just to satisfy other people. I really enjoy doing printmaking the way I do it, and I never tell anyone else who is enjoying themselves to go off and do something else. I have spent so many years trying to refine the skills that I have, and people don't understand that I don't want to give that up.
On the brighter side, I really am happy that most of the printmaking community is still rolling, and we share an unspoken bond that many others artists never get the chance to have.

Hi Mandy! I'm so glad to know I'm not the only printmaker who feels this way! Do keep listening to your own heart in what kind of work you do.

And yes, the printmaking community is a strong one worldwide with our many print triennials, exchanges, communal print studios and now with blogging. Have you noticed a recent surge in printmakers who blog?

Oh, it is good to see artist talking amongst themselves. This post, for me, is like being in the room, eavesdropping. You know how I like to eavesdrop. Aren't printmakers like the poets of the graphic arts?

Go ahead and eavesdrop here anytime, Tom! Interesting that you have compared printmakers to poets - I like that. Is it partly because prints are often more subtle than paintings, like poems vs. prose?