artist

artist, Ohio, Painter

Priya Rama

Priya Rama’s work and story really resonated with me. I get migraines and have my whole life. When I was a little girl, I was often torn, because I knew that certain activities would give me headaches. Mine are genetic, my maternal grandmother used to shut herself in her bedroom for days on end. Like Priya, my migraines have changed a lot over the years. Until I was in my 20’s, I didn’t know what I was experiencing were actually migraines. Or that there is medication to help! Now for Priya Rama:

I have had migraines since I was a little girl. They continue to change as I get older. Every migraine is different from the other. I often experience this unbelievable tiredness and I don't know why I'm feeling that tired. I just want to sit and not do anything. That is usually a day before a migraine. I'm not always good at recognizing, "Oh, I'm about to get a migraine." The days I don't have migraines, I overcompensate and I do so much, because my migraines are so frequent. I get two to three a week.

Two to three migraines a week! Wow. Are you on any medication?

Oh yeah. All kinds of meds. We moved to Cincinnati from Texas about 10 years ago. After moving to Cincinnati my migraines worsened. That's when I realized that weather is a big trigger for me which I'd never paid attention to before. The changing weather in Cincinnati, the constant barometric pressure changes, all lead to migraines.

Yeah. This year, this spring has been terrible for me. I get migraines once a month maybe. But early this summer I was getting three a week.

I didn't connect the dots to weather until we moved here. It doesn't always end up in a migraine, it can quite often be just a very tight head. Like it's being squeezed. It’s constant pressure and tightness. Just an overall discomfort, really.

I hear you, I understand.

When I was commuting to Ohio State two, three times a week, I was a full time student and I was teaching. The [combination of the] commute and being a wife and mother, it was all just too much. I was always medicating. I had too many migraines. I always had a list of things to do. I had assignments to grade or assignments to complete. It was just too much really. So I decided to take a year's break and reevaluate and see, “Do I really want to do this?” Continue with this.

Because along with migraines comes this constant guilt, right? Guilt of canceling appointments, or guilt of not being able to do your job. Or not being around for people. I said, “This is not worth it.” So I decided to take a year's break and during that break one particular migraine was really vivid and vibrant, and I decided to paint it. That's where this whole thing started. Painting that felt so very comfortable and so natural.

...

Painting these has not necessarily cured the migraines, but what it's done has been to allow me to let go of all the anger and frustration that I was holding onto. I didn't even realize how angry I was! There's a constant canceling of plans or you wake up and you feel this pain, and you're like, again, really?! You're just dealing with this constant anger. So painting has allowed me to be completely at peace with having migraines and accept their presence in my life.

Now a migraine comes, I'm like okay, and I just deal with it. Not that having the pain is enjoyable or anything. Some days it really brings you down. But it is what it is. I don't know any other life, that's just all I've known.

...

I've been doing this now for three, three and a half years. The more I paint the more vibrant the images are becoming.

Yes. That's interesting. Something like training a muscle. You only started painting your migraine visions about three years ago?

I've always painted though... I trained to be a graphic designer and typographer. So I was doing that, working in advertising.

When I was in Texas, I was an elementary school teacher. I taught fourth grade. Art and design took a back seat. When we moved here I thought it was a great opportunity to combine teaching and this love for art and design. So I thought I'd do art education. I did my masters here at the University of Cincinnati, and then started my doctoral work at OSU. So that's how that journey kind of happened.

So you've always been artistic, always painted.

I've always painted. But much more traditional subjects. I really didn't think too much about this imagery I was seeing because I've always known it. I didn't think it was something very unusual or that not everybody sees that kind of imagery. I'm a visual learner. I understand the world in visual terms. I thought that's how everybody is.

...

So when I started doing this and people were responding to my work...I actually met people who say some of my paintings are exactly like some of the visions they see. That fascinates me. Different bodies, different brains, somewhat similar condition and we see similar things, you know?

Yes! Some of your paintings I can look at and think, “Wow, that's a lot of pain.” In others, I can see maybe that's one where you're doing okay with it that day. Where you found a calm place or just, ‘Okay, this is happening.’ I can definitely see in [the paintings] the type of migraine, which is crazy to me.

For me, that is interesting. A lot of people say, "Oh, that looks like a painful one." I haven't really thought of the images as painful or not. It's just an image for me. Yes the image comes out of this process [or pain] but to me it's amazing that I see this imagery. [The image is] not in my eyes, it's more inside my brain. My vision will get sort of blurry and diffused [with a migraine] but all this imagery is inside my head. It's more like the top of my head. So I close my eyes, kind of look up and then it starts to emerge. Then I can travel through it, sort of float through it, and frame what I'm looking at. It's really interesting. It's almost like a slow motion movie.


This has been fantastic. It's taken me a long time to arrive at this point to find that one thing that truly grabs me. All along I thought I'd been doing things I love and enjoy but this feels completely like home.


As I'm floating through it some things can come forward, some things recede. So for me I don't look at the pain, it's just I'm focusing so much on what's going on inside my head. The textures and the details of the colors. I'm just trying to capture it.

...

When you're painting what you're seeing, do you finish a whole painting?

No...I work, as you can see [gestures to many half painted canvases leaning against the wall], I work on multiple things at once. So I'll travel through back and forth. So these are all in progress.

Is it a combination of visions, or are you able to go back?

I'm able to go back because I have a photographic memory of all my visions.

That's really wild!

Going back years. Otherwise my memory is pretty bad. When it comes to these visions I can recall. It's almost like I can go back to that vision, almost that moment. Not necessarily the migraine experience, but just the whole visual symphony that's playing out. It's like a file folder system in my head. I can pull out a drawer and there are slides and I can look at these images and go back to that moment.

I work on different [pieces] because things have to dry. Once I start painting, it's weird. As calming and meditative as it is, it's also a big urgency to capture what I'm seeing. To get it on canvas quickly and to capture the feeling. So I have to work on multiple things and allow things to dry between layers so I can go and add to it.


For me, painting is a quiet process. It's me and my thoughts and ... you know? Just being part of that moment of experiencing it.

You don't realize you're not talking to anybody, you're sort of lost in your thoughts.


This is what the beginning stages of my process look like: I'll start with a blank [canvas], I put a background color on and then I do layers. Quite often I use black for the background because it gives the depth, the shadow that I'm looking for. Once I do that then I layer [sheer washes of color that build the feeling of depth]. Then I start building all the details.

So every little dot and every little thing that you see there has been placed there by me. It's just an ongoing process and I can spend hours and hours just building, building.

….

Because my studio is at home I'm able to work at any hour that I want. And just be comfortable. And I can get in and out of bed and work.

Does that happen a lot?

Oh yeah.

Is that because the migraines are there and you can't sleep?

Yeah. Because I'll come and I'll start to paint but then sometimes it's so painful that I don't want to be here. So at least get the process started and then go back to bed. Then the image continues and I'm just sort of compelled to come back and paint again, to try to capture it. Having the studio at home really allows me the flexibility.

You sell your work mainly at art fairs?

Yes, and I'm in a few galleries. Hayley Gallery in Columbus, Ohio… and I'm in Purple Paisley in Covington, Kentucky.

What was that process like, getting into galleries?

Basically you approach them, show your work, talk about what you do. I include images of my work in emails or I take my work to show them. I've only applied to art fairs and galleries which have a jury process. It's more choosy in who they have in the gallery [or fair]. I want to be amongst good company.

[When I approach galleries with my paintings,] I look at the work they carry already. The artists they have. Because I'm not a traditionalist, you can see, and I don't even do traditional subjects. I have to find galleries that show modern, contemporary and abstract art really.

...

Hayley Gallery, the owner saw me in the Greater Columbus Art Festival last year and thought I would be a good fit. She said, "Hey come on over with your work and we'll see." I've been there a year, and she’s very supportive.

Okay. So it’s been a combination. Some people have approached you and you've approached some people.

Yeah. This year my hope is to go to two other galleries outside the tristate area. Maybe Chicago. I'm trying to find the balance between having enough inventory to do art fairs and to have work at home. When you take work to a gallery it stays with them. It's no longer available for you.

Find Priya:

Priya Rama

Instagram

National Headache Foundation Blog

Priya will appear on CBS Sunday Morning With Jane Pauley on November 3rd. Topic of the day is migraines.

artist, illustrator, printmaker, California

Lili Arnold

You studied printmaking in college?

Yes. It was almost by accident. As a junior I transferred to UC Santa Cruz. I was originally trying to do pre-med...but once I started taking classes like calculus and physics I was like, "Oh my gosh. I can't wrap my mind around any of this. This is not good." So I started rethinking my future and what I was going to major in...

I think my art education at UCSC allowed me to appreciate printmaking and start to figure out what I liked and what my style might be. I was always really drawn to pattern and folk art. I feel like most college art programs are focused more on conceptual art. So not necessarily something that's aesthetically pleasing but more focus on the message behind it. And I get that, some of the best art in the world is inspired by tragedy or something very personal. [Conceptual art] can have so much meaning, but I found my style in more folk art type things...

[After college] I did graphic design for four or five years. I got to a point where I was feeling creatively stifled because all the work I was doing was for someone else. I never had any real creative say in the final product ... I just executed the project that was given to me. I was craving some type of creative fulfillment. So I started doing art in my free time. On the weekends and whenever I could squeeze in a little project. ...I would do a little watercolor or I would paint a flower pot, all kinds of random stuff. I came across my old block printing tools and I thought, "Oh, I remember doing this. This was really fun…"

My first block print as an adult was a little sperm whale. Once I started I couldn't stop. After the sperm whale I did a whole little ocean series. Then a friend who worked at a store downtown reached out to me. She had seen them and asked if I would be interested in doing a First Friday. The first Friday of every month in Santa Cruz, a bunch of shops and galleries will host new artists with a collection of work... It's a really fun community arts event. So I had a First Friday. And I felt a lot of love from people in our community. It encouraged me that much more, so I just kept on creating…

When you went from your full-time graphic design position to what you are doing now, what did that transition look like? Are you printmaking full-time?

I am printmaking about 70% of the time, the rest of my time is filled with order fulfillment, commissioned pieces/illustrations, designing bandanas/packaging/branding for my products, and the last element is art shows & pop-ups. The transition from graphic designer to what I’m doing now was pretty scary at first. I was used to a steady 9-5, so managing myself and my own creativity took some time to harness and organize.

[When I quit my 9-5,] I kept some freelance graphic design clients and just did my art and printmaking on the side. Slowly the balance shifted more toward the printmaking end of things, once business started to pick up. Now I pretty much avoid graphic design whenever I can unless it incorporates handmade illustration, painting, or printing of some kind…

I've been obsessed with botanical illustration and scientific illustration. I like Ernst Haeckel ... He did a lot of ocean scientific illustrations. I get a lot of inspiration from doing research and ordering old books that have botanical illustrations. Also just getting out in nature...

I got the idea to do a protea and I think that might have been the first flower other than cactus flowers that I had done. So that kind of got me thinking about other types of flowers and I think that probably is what lead me to actually do this print [of Dahlias]. Now I'm feeling even more inspired to do different types of flowers from all over the world really. There's just so much beauty in the leaves and the petals and the whole structure of the plants.

So your cacti will morph into more flowers?

I think so. That's kind of what I'm feeling right now. 'Cause I did a lot of cactus.

I did, I don't know, a dozen at least, maybe around two dozen cactus and I loved every single one of them. I feel like [in the creative process] there's a natural desire to evolve and change and progress. So I feel like I've explored cacti ... and that has lead me to this next body of work. I have so many ideas for different flowers I wanna do, this could go on for awhile. But who knows?

Being an artist of any kind, it's hard to plan. It's like you have to listen to whatever's driving you and whatever ideas might pop into your head. Kinda just have to roll with it.

I feel like too much planning starts to feel cycling. Running my Instagram page, for example. I do enjoy it, but then there are times where if I plan it out too much...or if I start to schedule too much or start to pressure myself to keep up when I don't necessarily feel like it... I've gotten to the point where I just want to do whatever feels right and not worry if [Instagram’s] algorithm is going to put me below someone. It's probably not very business savvy...

I feel like for me to keep doing what I'm doing I really need to fully enjoy it and embrace the creative aspect of it. That's the most rewarding part of it.

These are all the flower pieces that I cut out after I carve the whole block. I'll carve [a block] in one piece and then I use an x-acto knife to cut out the pieces so I can color everything separately. That was one thing I never learned in school, was printing with multiple colors. Traditionally you carve multiple blocks [one for each color] and then you register each block.

[Explaining what it means to ‘register’ in printmaking.] So you'll print one color first for all the pieces of paper that you're doing. Once that color is done, you have to register [or line up] the next block[s] and the paper perfectly to print the second color [third color, etc] on top of it. It's always intimidated me. It's really hard to do without a printing press because printing by hand, there's so much inconsistency. I also use deckle edged paper. So you can see it would be really hard to register this paper, each piece is slightly different and like what part of the deckle edge do you really choose to be the part to align?

Had you seen other printmakers do this method before? Or did you have a light bulb moment one day?

I hadn't seen anyone do this before. I kind of did it out of desperation. The first few were very ... there was a lack of expertise for sure. The way the pieces fit together didn't really work. It was definitely challenging. But I've started to design the compositions with this idea in mind, that, "Oh, I'm gonna have to cut these out. So how can I make this easy?"

I just try to problem solve as I go 'cause there's a lot of factors to worry about....

That's how I work. A lot of trial and error. And googling. I have made many mistakes carving in blocks before. I did some googling and there's this stuff called Bondo which is used for car repair. It’s car dent filler. I read online that a printmaker used that to patch up mistakes made on their blocks. I ended up trying that because I had made a poster for a band ... I had to print 150 posters and somewhere on the poster it said 2017 and the seven was backwards… So I ended up using Bondo and patching the seven and carving the opposite side of it. And it worked!

Now I know if I really mess up on something that there is a chance it can be salvaged. In the past I just would abandon and walk. Sometimes it's like 15 hours of carving and it's tragic!

Find Lili:

Lili Arnold Studios

Instagram
Make sure to check out the videos she posts of mixing inks, it’s incredibly satisfying ;)

artist, Indiana, Painter

Sabrina Zhou

You went to art school in China…

Two art schools in China and one in Canada. All different majors. The first one was Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. I was majoring in watercolor. Then I met my husband and moved to the art school that he was in. That was in Sichuan, the southwest of China. This is where pandas come from. So first I did fine arts [watercolor] and then interior design. Then went to Canada and there I did fine arts…

What made you come to America?

I knew I was going to leave Calgary, it’s just too cold there. It’s like half a year in winter. We have to walk in tunnels and all of that. I didn’t think I would come to America until I visited a friend here. [We went to school together in Canada.] He was a New York street artist [at the time.]
…He was good and he inspired me. I just followed his steps…

So you started off on the east coast in Connecticut…

For seven years. Long time.…There was an old storage place they turned into artist lofts and rented them only to artists. So the rent was much cheaper than the market. You got to live with all sorts of artists; painters, singers, poets, writers, etc.  And then parties and talks... It was fun.
…I had a booth at the mall in Connecticut for Christmas and I was doing about 10 portraits a day… I came here to Indiana and had a booth at the mall for one year, in 2013.  I was playing video games on the computer the day before Christmas. People were not interested…

I focused solely on portraits for years and eventually hated it. Mostly I worked from photographs. People had all kinds of photographs. [laughter] Some of them where really hard to work with! And they asked funny questions; you can do this? You can do that? Can you put this head on that body? All sorts of questions…

When you do still lives. Do you set them all up and draw from life?

Yes…That’s part of the fun.

Setting everything up?

Yes. I rarely did oil in college because it’s so different than watercolor. With oils, you can mix all the colors together. You can be a pastel artist and oil painter, but watercolor and oil are so different. Different procedures.

[Pastels are] a smaller medium but once you get the hang of it, it’s so much fun. I could just sit here for hours doing my little feathering. It’s very controllable and the colors are so vivid. It is the pure pigment here. Paints can change color over time, but pastels stay there. …  [Pastels do fade in the sun a little bit,] especially the cheap ones. But that’s it. It can be very expensive. This tiny little stick cost $3 and you need so many different colors. Since you are working with the straight color you can’t blend it like you do with paint to get the color you need.
At this stage I don’t blend the pastels but the first few stages I do.

How do you blend pastels?

My finger. Someone told me you can rub the oil in your hand into the painting. So far I haven’t seen any problems with that. I use paper towels for the background because it is a big area. It is very different than when you rub with your finger. You can get a much smoother result with your finger.

When I do landscapes. People keep asking me where is this…where is that? It’s here, [points to head and laughs] it’s not real.

 

This landscape is all made up from your head?

Well this one I got the inspiration from Cool Creek Park. We walk over there with our dog. There is an area of birch trees. I added this mountain behind it. For the color variation. Indianapolis is so flat! I like that deep blue-purple color in the back and the trees against it. I like the effect. I can also show a little bit of pink, reddish color here and there. To compliment the green. So that part is coming out of my mind wherever I feel it’s necessary.
...
A good thing to do when you finish a painting is to put it aside for a few months. When you come back to it you find a lot of problems you want to fix. When you are just staring at it you are like, “[groans] Okay. I think it’s done.”
...
All those things that we learned in China, I don’t know any different until after years of being here. We learned the Russian system of art, called social realism. It’s more realistic. That’s why I was going so tight. All these details! I was considered to have a bad sense of color when I was in school. And I grew with that because when you get really into details you forget the fresh thing you had when you first looked at those still lives. You get into shape and volumes more than colors. So I thought, “Ok, I can’t see colors, I am so bad.” It’s a good thing I switched to oil because I work faster with a wider brush…I want to be John Singer Sargent. And I like that style better. I start to say “Oh, now I see more colors!” You can really relax and get loose. I see more colors and I like that. So when I go back to my pastel, I feel I work the color better. Even when I am doing detailed work like this, I see more colors. I benefit from that.  

John Singer Sargent, he’s a great portrait artist. I saw a painting of his with two ladies sitting in a garden with a table. The lady’s hand was painted really thick but loose brush work.  When you get close it’s just piles of paint up there, but when you step back, it’s a perfectly done hand. He is that awesome…
If you take the time and get into details, I can make it. But he was madly good, his strokes look so impatient, [whoosh of air and wide hand gesture] but everything is already there. So good.

It's interesting that you would admire Sargent, a more impressionistic painter, because your pastel work is very tight. You can get really up close to them and really appreciate them. But, your oil paintings are looser, more impressionistic.

Right. I’m trying to hide my tiny little brushes away from myself. So I just grab the bigger ones. All the tiny ones are there where I can’t reach them. So I am trying to use this bigger brush to get into the little detail and it’s become more vivid that way. It’s not as tight. With pastels I can’t [get bigger], they are already this shape.

HD_SabrinaZhou_0102_.jpg

Last year, I was in a show in Columbus, Ohio. I sold a painting that was not done. It was still wet! I didn’t have enough paintings to fill out the booth. This guy came in and said, “I just love that.”
I said, “You can order that. Once I am done with it I can ship it to you.”
He said, “No. I want it just like that.”

That’s pretty incredible. Did you sell it to him?

Yes! He took it. It needed to be varnished, but it was still wet…  He is not interested in me finishing the painting. That’s nice sometimes, the work doesn’t have to be really completed as you want. Some of the looseness in the first few stages appeal to people.

artist, Ohio, Painter

Mandi Caskey

12.29.2015 conversation

How long do you expect this mural to take?

I’m hoping until the end of January. But that’s if everything goes smoothly and if nothing else jumps on my plate. I’ve been up here since the day after Christmas, everyday. Only a few hours at a time. I’ve been taking my time. Playing nice music. Just enjoying it rather than, “Gotta get done!” Which is how I usually am. As I see it, [this mural] is going to be up here for 40 plus years. Might as well take my time on it.

How did you get this gig?

One of my really good friends’ mom works up here. I met his parents one day and his mom says, “There’s this opportunity, I don’t know if you want it.” Then she explained it to me. “Yea I want to do that! Are you joking?” Then there was this whole process. It took months to get to [the painting] point. We talked about it. [Went through] all the legalities. We’re finally here!

Is this the first mural that you’ve had to deal with legal issues?

Yes. Did you see the football players that I did? laughter My friend and I did really old school football players on [the Landgrant Brewing Co Building] in Franklinton. We hopped on that and just talked to the owner of the building. That’s usually how its been. For this, since it is a public space and in a government building, it took months to get approvals after approvals. [It had to be explained] why this was needed, etc. It was cool to learn how to go through those things. [To learn the difference between work that goes up] in a government building compared to abandoned spaces. 

Most of the stuff that you do is larger scale? Or do you work on smaller canvases too?

There’s a pretty drastic difference between my street art and the things I do at home. I find that smaller works that people can actually hold and really be intimate with it is more impactful in a gallery space. On the street, it [should be] something big and more eye-catching. The “wow how’d they do that?!” I guess is more impressive that way. I’m actually starting this new series, bringing my gallery work outside. I’ll be doing bricks, single bricks, all over the city… I’ve kind-of already started the series. I actually built my own brick walls.

Finished cabin and sky on the left. Underpainting on trees to the right.

"Blocking in" or "underpainting".

I saw those! I’ve wondered, “What’s going on with this?”

I’m really excited about it. A lot of people are stoked about it. Brioso, Landgrant. They both have said “We want a brick! Paint one of our bricks!” I want to do a location kind of thing. If you find one, you could do a hashtag, you know what I mean? Something like a hide-and-seek game. Where’s Waldo… I’m stoked about it. No one’s really doing that right now. No one is taking street art and doing it really small and delicate. Everything is in-your-face and large. I feel like it’s really important to bring it back down to earth. Have a conversation with it, rather than it engulfing you. 

A conversation instead of a statement.

Yea, I’m really excited about it. It gives me goosebumps every time I talk about it. To have 20 to 30 bricks and to see those in a series. And have people taking photos with them and interacting with them. I’m excited for all those moments people will have. They’ll look, then do a double take, and go up to it and say, “Whaat?!” You know what I mean? That’s so special. I live for those moments. 

Did you grow up making art?

Yes I did. There were two things I wanted to be when I grew up. It was either an archeologist or an artist. And here I am. I have a huge love for history. I base a lot of my work on the way the masters did it. Very traditional style. Very emotional. I watch a lot of documentaries while I work.


Your plants, like what you did for Brioso. And also your birds. I loved all of those. They’re very enlightenment and turn of the century text book style.

Yea that’s what I really love to do. Institutional. That look where you’ve been schooled. You know. I only went to college for two years. 

So you quit art school. Did you feel like it just wasn’t helping you?

I was in the fine arts program and I didn’t feel like it was really carrying me anywhere. I was spending 30 grand a year just learning the same stuff over and over again… I also just couldn’t afford it. I was paying for it myself and at some point you just have to say “I’m going to be more in debt than it’s even worth.” I feel that to be an artist you don’t need to go to school. If you have enough drive and are determined and obviously a little bit of talent thrown in there. You’re going to do something.

 

I was seeing all the other fine artists doing a lot of contemporary, abstract work. And then here’s me, really focusing on a very traditional look. It was really frustrating. Seeing other people get praised for something….I understand conceptually there’s something there. I respect it for it’s conceptual side. But do I value it as much as I do the master’s and more traditional work? No. I don’t. 

You have to have that strong foundation before you can jump into the more contemporary stuff.

Yes. And that was always my argument. With everything. At a point I got frustrated. The whole fine arts program is this when I’m trying to do this. I’m not going to try please a different crowd. I know what I’m supposed to do. That’s the little rebel in me I guess.

 

01.13.2017 Update

Are you excited to finally finish this mural?

Yes! It’s going to be bittersweet. I love coming up here, it’s relaxing. But I’m ready to be done with it, you know? I’ve got 6 ladybugs, some buckeyes, two bumble bees and these carnations to finish. I’m going to be done at 9 tonight. I’m ready to move on to other things.

 

Craft, artist, Ohio, ceramics

Bruce Grimes

HooDoo_Bruce Grimes_013.jpg
HooDoo_Bruce Grimes_005.jpg
HooDoo_Bruce Grimes_156.jpg
HooDoo_Bruce Grimes_001.jpg

You started ceramics in college. Where did you attend?

I started at Milligan University in Decatur, Illinois. I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts. I took my first ceramics class as a senior there. I didn’t know much about pottery at all, but I knew I liked clay. So when I got to graduate school [at Ohio University], you could take one elective. So I took ceramics. I was putting about 40 hours a week in for a three hour class. At the end of that first year, Professor Lin came to me and he says, “How would you like to be my teaching assistant?” I thought, “Wow, I’m down here all the time anyway, I can get paid.” So I said that I would like that. After I said yes, he started telling me all the things he wanted done. Being a smart mouth, I said, “Well maybe I should bring down a cot.” He says, “Good idea.”

I lived down there. When the students left at 11 o’clock, I started mixing glazes, making clay, and we had to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning. He didn’t care if I hadn’t finished a firing until 5:30 in the morning. 

[Professor Henry Haun Lin was the dean of the Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts. He was the father of Maya Lin, the sculptor who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.]

You see all the air bubbles in here? I’ve got to knead all that out of there or I can’t center the clay…

You hear that pop? You can’t center the clay, you can’t throw symmetrical pieces. It will have a thin and a thick side. If there’s an air bubble in there, you’re going to let up when you’re throwing or else it will tear. Where you let up, it will be thicker.

Ok. I’m going to throw a bowl. 

What I’m doing as I’m centering the clay is I’m actually kneading it. You want to center your clay as near the final shape as you are making. So this is going to be a bowl… [Bruce centers and shapes the clay into a low, wide cylinder.] 

Now you see how the walls are pretty straight? I’m going to come back with a throwing rib and you’ll see how the volume will change. I never used throwing ribs until I started making lots and lots of pieces. People began to look for sets, looking for pots that are similar in shape. With a throwing rib, I’m getting the same curve every time. 

I tell my students, there is a fine line between a piece that is successful and one that’s not quite there. After you get to a place where you think you are done with it, take a look at it. Usually you go back at least one more time and clean it up.

Wanna see a vase?

Before I ever touch the sides or the walls, I get the curve I want in the bottom and I compact the clay base. If the base is not compacted, you get what’s called ’S cracks’ on the bottom of your pieces. Your sides get very compact as you’re throwing. If the bottom is not compacted, [as the clay dries] it’s going to pull away and crack in the place of least resistance. I’ve got a curve started on the bottom, I’m going to continue that curve. Even though it’s a vase and you don’t see the inside, I don’t want a pot that has a break [in the curve]. Each time, [each pass,] I’m just moving the clay up and thinning it out. So the clay becomes the same thickness each time. Instead of having thick someplace and thin someplace, it’s the same and just gets thinner with each draw. I’m going to collar this in as I go… If I wait until the end to do that, most of the time it will twist and that will cause it to tear.

I’m going to have a broader lip for a vase. It reminds me of the frame on a painting. …If you’ve got a shout down here [indicates vase body] and you end up with a whisper [points to vase lip], the two don’t go together very well. I’m preparing this so that the top acts as a visual stopping point. So that’s where your eye stops.

Here it’s really important that the inside hand supports and shapes the clay. It’s the one that’s drawing the shape. So that you get a curvature and not a straight line.

So there’s a vase. 

 

You can find Bruce Grimes' pottery in and around Yellow Springs, Ohio. He has worked extensively with the Raku process in addition to stoneware.

Bruce taught ceramics at the college level for nearly 50 years. He has also held group lessons and lead many workshops. 

 

Contact Bruce:

grimespottery@yahoo.com

 

artist, Craft, California

Tim Bessell

How long have you lived in La Jolla?

I was born in Wichita, Kansas. My family moved down here when I was two years old. I’ve been here ever since. Right up the street. I like to joke my umbilical cord isn’t very long.

How did you get in to making surfboards?

On my 13th birthday, my brother and my best friend gave me a stripped down long board. They had all these old beat up surf boards that they stripped down, took off all the fiberglass. That was it. I made that board and it came out pretty decent. So my neighbor gave me a board that had turned out really bad. I stripped it down, took off the fiberglass and shaped another one. I sold that one. I was in high school, only 13 or 14, when I started. It’s hard to turn down work when people are paying you! 

It takes you about an hour to shape a surfboard?

Well, it depends. This model, I have it down. I can do it really easily and fast, but a longboard takes maybe two or three hours. It all depends. Whether the foam is cooperating that day. 

Most surfboards are made off machines. I still like to do it the hand-crafted way. 

Does it make any difference in performance? Do people notice a difference board to board? Hand making them must allow you to make them in more sizes.

I can make anything any size, any shape. 

Where do you get your foam? It is already in a rough surfboard shape.

They have molds. They start with a liquid foam and they pour it into a mold. There’s probably hundreds of different molds for different styles [and sizes] of surfboards. 

After a foam board core is shaped, what are the rest of the steps of making a surfboard?

So there’s this fiberglass cloth, it’s like any kind of cloth made out of fiberglass, you lay that, you dress, the bottom of the board. You cut the fiberglass and wrap it around. Then you take this resin, which starts off as a liquid and turns into a solid with a catalyst. You squeegee that on. Then you flip the board over and repeat the lamination on the top side. Lamination resin never really dries. It always stays tacky. That’s so it won’t de-laminate from the board. After the whole board is laminated, you take a different kind of resin, which has surfacing agent in it, and paint that over the bottom [of the board]. Sand that down and that’s your basic high performance surfboard. 

If you want something with art [on the top face of the surfboard], you have to laminate that into the board. That has a third layer of resin, called a gloss coat. You polish that out like a car, that’s how you get it so shiny. Most of the high performance shortboards are just sanded finish. They’re light. 

You could actually use the art boards? They are meant to be used?

Yea! My idea was to put my best work with Andy’s artwork…With the Warhol boards, those had to be approved by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

What gave you the idea to put Andy Warhol’s art on surfboards?

Ok, I’ll tell you how it happened. So my friend and protege, Ben Blank, he told me about this website Fab. Have you seen Fab? This was three years ago, so Fab was a little different than what it is now. He was going, “Tim, you need to put your surfboard on Fab.” And I’m going, “I just don’t see it.” Well one day I saw Warhol skateboards. I thought, “Ooooh, that’s it! I could be the surfboard guy. They’re giving licenses to skateboard guys, I’ll see if they’ll give me licenses.” And they did. Now we’re in our third year [using Warhol’s art]. 

When did you start making your own art?

My whole life. 

What’s your preferred medium?

I don’t know. I just like making stuff.

As long as it involves your hands.

Yea, exactly. 

When was your last show?

August, in New York. We sold out. We’ll be in New York again next summer.

What influences your personal art? 

[Some people who influence me] are Andy Warhol, Duchamp, Picasso. 

What subjects are you drawn to?

Duality.

How often do you surf?

I try to surf everyday.

Any quick advice for first time surfers?

Start on a longboard and work your way down.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

artist, Craft, photographer

Giles Clement

How did you get into creating tintypes?

"It was kind of a progression from my earlier work. [I was shooting] a lot of large format film stuff. I [began using] film when I first started photography. I started with 35mm [film] and then quickly switched over to digital. I used digital in my professional work. I worked for newspapers and stuff like that. At one newspaper I was working for I found a bunch of old 35mm and medium format cameras [they had stored] in their basement… I started doing assignments with old Mamiyas and old Nikons and stuff like that. That’s how I got back into film. Once you shoot with medium format, 35mm is no longer that fun. And once you shoot 4x5, medium format is pretty boring. And once you shoot 8x10… 

"So I was shooting 8x10 and I hit a point where I couldn’t afford the film anymore. I thought if I could make my own film, it would be cheaper. I looked into doing that. [While researching that] I had seen some photos shot as tintype that I really liked. I liked the aesthetic of it. Part of the reason I shoot film is because it’s a very fallible medium. You can fuck it up pretty easily and tintype is 20 times more fuck up-able. Tintype appealed to me. I got the chemicals and stuff for tintypes on a whim. Once I started shooting it, it got really addictive. You get instant gratification, you shoot the photo and then you see what you got. It’s like shooting polaroid. It’s a rush. A year later I was broke and figured I needed to start making money with this. I guess that’s the long story of how I got into tintypes."

Did you consciously make the decision to become a traveling tintypist?

"No I didn’t! It kind of just happened. I was borrowing a friend’s apartment in Columbus, Ohio for three months when I first started doing it… It was the middle of summer. The apartment I was staying in was like an oven. So I decided to go to the east coast and live somewhere there. I found a room share in Camden, Maine on Craigslist. It’s way up on the coast, a tiny little coastal town. I went there for a month and a half. I was doing tintypes and goofing around. I had my other photography business going as well, just to pay the bills… [After Camden] I went through Detroit, came back through Columbus and then to Wisconsin. I lived in Wisconsin for six weeks or so. Then continued to doodle across the country. I ended up in Portland. I was planning to keep going, but I was working on a project. I was photographing Centenarians, one in each state, with tintype. That was part of my travel, but not a huge component of it. Just something I was working on. So I ended up in Portland. My friends there [encouraged me to stay] and open a studio. So I stayed and opened a studio. And I spent the next year just losing hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Not taking tintypes of anyone in Portland… 

"I got lucky… I got a call from somebody planning a music event down in Texas. They [asked if I would come down] and do tintypes for the event… I said, “Yes, absolutely.” I shut down [my studio] in Portland, got rid of everything that I had, packed up my car and went out there with no real plan. I had that one gig, shooting at Willie Nelson’s ranch down in Texas. So I shot that and then started finding other stuff. A year and half later, I’m still on the road doing it. I didn’t set out to do it, but I’m kind of glad I did." 

 
 
 
 
 
 

What is your favorite subject to photograph?

"I don’t know. I like collaborating with other people. I really enjoy the process of working together. You get a few creative people in the room and you don’t even need a [pre-conceived] idea. Someone will have a spark and you just go back and forth from there. I have some ideas for photos that are my own but I don’t know if coming up with concepts for photos is my strong point. I think what I’m good at and what I really enjoy is working with somebody and collaborating. To the point where you don’t know who’s idea it was anymore. You’re just bullshitting until something happens. I’m good at execution. [Everything that has to do with ‘making’ the photograph. The chemical and the technical aspects. Sometimes I don’t even get that right.] I certainly enjoy and really like some of the photos that have happened that way. [The ones] where the time has flown by, its three hours later, and at the end you get just one or maybe a couple images that you really like…

"I’ve got a few favorite images over the years that have happened like that."

What was the first tintype that you made? 

"The first tintype I did was at three or four in the morning. My friend was doing sleep studies on people. She was the only person awake that late. I [had just received] the chemicals [for tintyping] and mixed everything up. It totally didn’t work. You can kind of see an image, but not really. That was my first tintype."

 

artist, Craft, Ohio, Service, printmaker

Allison Chapman : Igloo Letterpress

Allison Chapman owns and runs Igloo Letterpress; a small letterpress, design, and book binding business.

How did you get your start in letterpress?

“My grandfather was a hobby printer. I learned by hanging around the studio with him. He was really interested in machinery and how things worked. The things I like about [running] Igloo are process and problem solving. That’s the creative part that I get energy from and get excited about. 

“We use three types of plates: plastic, wood and metal. It’s not all antique stuff. Most of the work we do now is emailed to us as a PDF. Then we make the plastic plates from those designs.“

"The green press was my grandfather's."

A plastic plate ready to print.

How do you do that?

“It is a light sensitive plastic. The area that is exposed to light becomes hard and the rest of it washes away with water. There are two things I like about the plastic plates. One, we can recycle them when we’re done. There’s less waste. We print a lot of wedding invitations and things that are single use. Two, it allows us to have a deeper impression, or bite as it’s called, into the paper. Our customers ask for that.”

I’ve had quite a few people ask me what the difference is between letterpress and computer printing.

“That’s funny, we always joke that letterpress is better press. When you look at a design, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like when it’s printed. It’s so different looking a [screen] with light shining through it compared to ink on paper. We mix our ink colors by hand most of the time.”

Do you work much with antique plates?

“In our classes we do. I do in my designs too. I wasn’t trained as a graphic designer on a computer. So I learned by setting individual letters together. If I ran out of an ‘e’ I would have to choose a different font. If it was too big to fit on the paper I would have to start over. It’s hard for me to design on the computer. There are too many choices. I like the limitation of saying, “Oh, yes, this will fit on this paper. This type looks good with that image.” It’s a little bit easier to make decisions.”

When are you hoping to move into your new space?

“We did a Kickstarter to fund our classroom area in our new space. So right now we’re in the process of printing all of that stuff and getting it shipped. We will have our grand opening party this fall.”

Were you surprised/impressed by the response to your Kickstarter?

“Yes. All of those things. It’s a humbling experience to go through a Kickstarter. We did ours for 30 days. We wanted to give time for information to travel… We had around 350 donors. It started out with our friends and family. Then the [local community]. In our first day I think we hit 20%. It was amazing to feel that people were investing in our success.”

Many of the cards Igloo Letterpress prints and sells are collaborations with local artists.

The Snow House is the gift shop for Igloo Letterpress. They also carry goods from local artists.

How has Igloo grown over the years from a hobby to a full time business with employees?

“Our family moved here from Minnesota in 2008. At the time I was pregnant. Igloo in Minnesota was me, in the house. I had a job at the time where I taught letterpress printing [in a different shop]. I didn’t know anybody [in Columbus]. It was my way of building something for myself here and meeting people that cared about the same things I did.

“[The first Igloo Letterpress studio in Columbus was in an artist warehouse outside of town]. I had 300 square feet and shoehorned everything in…When I was out there nobody would go meet me [at my studio]…I got tired of meeting people in coffee shops. I looked [everywhere in Columbus] trying to find the right spot for Igloo… We live in Worthington. So I chose to look for a space around here. I really appreciate the Worthington Farmers Market. I thought the people going to the farmers market might have an interest in the handcrafted stuff I’m making. It was the natural way for me to grow my business, but it’s not a traditional way to do it. I worked while my daughter was in kindergarten and my son was in preschool, 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. Then I would pick my kids up and it was family time. I would work again from 9 P.M. to 2 A.M. It let me grow slowly. I am thankful that it isn't just me anymore. Igloo's staff is so talented. We’re a big small business… [I’m comfortable with our size and work load.] I feel really good about the quality of our work and the quality of our customer interaction.”

 

artist, illustrator, Indiana

Penelope Dullaghan

This is Penelope Dullaghan. Penelope is an illustrator.

I read on your website you used to be an art director.

“Yes, I started off as an art director for an ad agency. I worked there for close to five years. I kept getting illustrator's promos across my desk and thought, 'Oh man, there are people actually working as illustrators! What am I doing hiring illustrators, when I could be the illustrator?'

So I started using my own illustrations for clients. [A fast food restaurant] was one of my agency clients at the time. I hired myself to do their kids' menu. That went well, and was fun, so I started moonlighting at night as an illustrator. After about a year, I felt ready to make the leap to full-time freelance, and my career as an illustrator took off from there!”

“I did an event this past winter at the Indianapolis Museum of Art benefitting their teen art program. I don’t generally do my art in front of other people. It’s intimidating. I prefer to be alone in solitude. At the museum event I was so nervous! Just walking in and seeing all those people watching the other artists [made me want to] turn right around and go home! But it ended up being really fun. I did three pieces that were auctioned off ­ and they sold right away! That was a good feeling.”

 
 

You have an agent. How did that come about?

“I’ve been with Scott Hull for over eight years. I approached him in the beginning and asked him to rep me. He said I needed to do more work. It sucked hearing that at the time, but it was the right thing to say. I appreciated the honest feedback. So I went to work. To get my portfolio up to speed and pad my portfolio, I started a website called Illustration Friday. The weekly assignments kept me accountable. From those self­-assignments and some client work here and there, [my portfolio grew.] I would keep Scott updated on what I was creating. About a year later he wrote me back and said, 'I think you’re ready!'

“I no longer run Illustration Friday, but it's still a great site to inspire personal work for newbie illustrators.”

Does he find you most of your work or do people contact him wanting you?

“I think most clients contact him directly. After you've been doing illustration for awhile, people see your stuff places and want to work with you, too. Sometimes clients contact me directly, but I send all new business through him. It’s much easier.­­ He handles all the paperwork, budgets and timelines. ­­Stuff I don't necessarily enjoy. I get to [focus on] the art.”

How did you get started in watercolor?

“Watercolor is a pretty recent medium for me. I used to do mostly acrylics and digital. Two years ago we moved to a house with a river right behind us, That inspired me to try watercolors. I walk down by the river almost every day. Then do paintings based on my observations. Watercolors are great because they're pretty immediate. I can record my thoughts and observations quickly. As soon as I return home. A lot of these paintings end up in my shop. For my illustration work with clients it’s more of a mix.­ Some watercolor, acrylic and digital too.”

I see you’ve been experimenting with Lino cuts.

“I have. I’ve been doing this pattern­-a-­day series on Instagram. It’s really fun. I do them Monday through Friday and take the weekends off. Lino cut is an easy way to do them quickly. I also work with watercolor and drawing. It’s all experimentation ­­ seeing what works and what doesn’t. I love that it’s been influencing my client work so much. I’m more playful in my illustration work because of the daily pattern making.”

Are you experimenting with any other new-for-you processes?

Yes. I’ve been playing with making stencils. I’m experimenting with different ways to make a mark, rather than just paint or pencil. It may be the beginning of something new... We’ll see. Even if it doesn't go anywhere 'productive'. I think it’s always fun to play and explore with art. It’s how I learn the best.

“It’s also really fun watching my six year old daughter do art. Witnessing her progress and watching her try different things. She’s been my number one source of inspiration. She’ll say, 'Look how I drew this cat,' and it’s the most bizarre, awesome thing! She's not judging or reining herself in at all. That's so inspiring!”

 

Indiana, artist, Craft, illustrator, printmaker

Aaron Scamihorn : Ronlewhorn Industries

Aaron Scamihorn is an art director by day, and silk screen printer/graphic designer/illustrator by night. AJ, his wife, works along-side him and is ‘quality control manager.' Together they are RONLEWHORN INDUSTRIES.

Do you print mostly your own designs? Do you screen print others’ designs?

“Almost 100% my own stuff. I have taken on a handful of contract print jobs. People who have something fun or interesting. I’m happy to help them out. Primarily it’s my own stuff…This is my passion project. I do the corporate-y stuff by day. I want to keep myself creatively re-energized. At this point it’s 50% gig posters and 50% art prints.”

What do you do AJ?

AJ: “I am an account coordinator at a design firm. I do that by day and helping him out takes up the rest of my time. I’m learning a lot about the [screen printing and design] process. There are plans in the works to get my own table this year.”

Do you usually do pretty well at craft shows?

“We do. It takes proper strategy. We’ve learned over the years. For instance we need to have new stuff [that is different] from the previous year. Indianapolis isn’t a huge market, those kinds of [craft shows] are often a pretty similar demographic. If you’ve done a couple craft shows in town then they’ve probably seen what you have at least once.”

AJ: “You also need to have a good mix of sizes. Wall space comes at a premium for most people.”

“Some years all I’ve had are giant posters, I don’t do so well. When I have more art prints and smaller stuff [giving] people options, everything sells better. The bigger stuff sells well when they have the option of the smaller stuff. They look at the smaller stuff [but then decide to buy] the larger print!

“We’ve been prepping a lot of stuff for a show coming up. The Indieana Handicraft Exchange.”  (June 13th, 12-8pm, Indianapolis)

How did you get started screen printing?

“I grew up playing in bands. I really love music and [wanted to stay connected to] music…Growing up, my parents were potters and my dad was an art teacher. Everything we did growing up was very hands on. [I work in] a cubicle and the digital design world. The one thing that was missing from the process for me was creating something with my hands.

I started doing a lot of show flyers, and [I was] looking at a lot of gig posters. I began to have this desire to figure out [how to screen print.] With the help of YouTube and some buddies who had a t-shirt printing business…I began trying to figure it out. There was a lot of trial and error.

 

“The first band that was coming to town that [hired] me [to design and screen print their gig posters] was Mayor Hawthorne. After the show, we got to chat about it, and he said, 'I’ve had a lot of gig posters done for me man, but this, this is the shit!' That solidified it for me. I want to do this! From there I got the one for Cake. Now I’ve done seven for them. Having those in the portfolio gets a lot of other bands to work with me.”

When you are working on a new design, do you hand draw or design it on the computer?

“It depends. This design [that I’m printing now] was 100% digital. I’m working on a piece right now for Gallery 1988 out in LA. They do pop culture shows. [The show coming up] is a tribute to Tom Hanks. (June 13-20, Los Angeles) My piece is [inspired by] the film The ‘Burbs. It was all hand done. I used a light box, photo references, tracing paper… And then scan it into the computer for layout. I do a lot of my typography by hand. The DropKick Murphy’s gig poster was all digital, but I did the type by hand. 

“Early on, [an older artist] was giving me advice about the industry and whatnot, his first advice was, 'Robots and pretty girls are what sells. Do as many robots and pretty girls as you can...' He also gave me advice about type layout and, 'You can have the best illustration in the world, but with bad type it’s still a throw away. A crappy illustration with great type can be an awesome poster.' I put a lot of time and effort into making sure that [my type] is solid.”

That’s interesting how language is a larger draw than pictures.

“It’s crazy how some people do these illustrations and they’re so basic but they have these really cool types surrounding them. [It’s frustrating because] I put so much time into my illustration AND my type. You never know what people are going to be drawn to, but when it looks really bad, people can tell.”

 
 

artist, Craft, jewelry, Ohio

Hannah Hoffman

This is Hannah Hoffman. She is a jewelry designer.

“I studied glass at Ohio State. A friend and I were making glass pendants… We were wanting to learn how to make bezels to set the glass. I was getting close to graduation.”

Soon after graduation, she took a jewelry class at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center.

“It kind of worked out, because glass equipment is so expensive. There is a lot you can do with basic metal tools at home. I wanted to continue making art and jewelry-making was very accessible.”

How often are you creating new pieces?

“I feel like, often. I do a lot of production work. You have to do a lot of production work to make any money. But I’m always trying to experiment. I usually end up experimenting with my mistakes. I’ll heat something too hot, or melt something, or bend a wire in a way I can’t bend it back. That’s how a lot of new pieces happen. I also sketch and create things in that way.

Pierre the cat has little interest in jewelry making.

“These [earrings that I am wearing] are new. These were an accident. They were pieces of scrap and I put them together. They ended up looking really cool. I would wanna wear these, I thought. So I should make them. They are an asymmetrical set.”

 

What has been your favorite part of having your own business?

“I like the independence. I like being able to choose how I spend my day… I can take a break in the middle of the day and go to the gym or yoga.

“I never expected to run my own business. I’m still surprised that I do it. People will say, ‘Oh, this is Hannah, she runs her own business.’ And I think Me? Oh yeah! I forget! Sometimes I feel like I’m just playing around. It’s fun to look back and see how my work has progressed. And get feedback. Some people have been interested in what I’ve been doing the whole time. So that feels good. And I get to do something that requires fire. That’s a huge bonus."