I first fell in love with printmaking when I pulled my first linocut in high school. Since then, I've tried to soak up as much knowledge and inspiration as I can, which is why I was so excited to hear about Pressing Matters magazine. It's a beautiful publication dedicated to the love of printmaking in all its forms. I interviewed the founder, John Coe, about what inspired him to create it and how it has affected his creative practice.
I fell hard for zines and zine-swapping because it was clear that zines were a vehicle for unadulterated, uncensored creativity. At the same time, having a scheduled meetup gave us a deadline and forced us to produce something, no matter how slapdash and last-minute it was. In fact, a slapdash, messy aesthetic was well-suited to this DIY medium that celebrates all things handmade and imperfect (I once made a zine of just lines written in Sharpie about why it was so hard to make a zine).
Since I am now apparently smitten by this art form, and since my two instructors - Jolene Ballendine and Chris Dinger - were so brilliant at creating safe, inviting environments and getting us students to take giant risks, I decided to ask them about what improv has to teach us about creativity and life in general. I was delighted by what they had to say.
Last October, a friend posted on Instagram that she was having an amazing time at a place called Artscape Gibraltar Point. I looked it up, and found that they had all kinds of programmed residencies, where you pay a fee and go work on a specific project with a group and a facilitator. And one of the programs involved learning timber framing and collectively building a structure. One of my main goals this year was to learn more about building and materials so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I applied and was super excited to be accepted.
Maarit reached out to me recently to see if I would be interested in collaborating and I instantly fell for her work and had to say yes. She's a linocut printmaking based in Amsterdam and had a similar struggle as mine with not getting started on her artistic journey until her mid-twenties. Now she produces stunning drawings and prints and has made this gorgeous video documenting her process.
Mindfulness is all about observation, and so is drawing. Both require you to slow down and pay close attention to what’s in front of you. Drawing is a great way to practice mindfulness because it allows you to be focused in the present moment - in what is happening right in front of you. And mindfulness can help people who think they can't draw (like me!) because it helps to release the judgement and harsh criticism that keeps people feeling stuck.
To me, proper fun requires four things: being with other people; being present and engaged; being open - to newness, challenge, failure, or looking dumb; and large amounts of laughter. I’m fortunate to have a partner and a group of friends who don’t shy away from playful activities. I’m also lucky to be living in a time when play is becoming more and more accessible to adults. Gone are the days when we had to settle for bowling, mini-golf or billiards - leaving the actual fun stuff to the kids. Now we have more options than ever.
When I’m hurtling down a mountain at 40km/h I really need my mind to be on my side. The same is true when I’m flying down the highway on a motorcycle, or navigating a series of rapids in a kayak (though I’ve traded kayaking for white-water rafting). In learning to ride and paddle, I’ve picked up some powerful lessons that carry through to the rest of my life. Here are my favourites.
I realized that while I accomplished a lot more than I had expected in the past 12 months, the overarching theme for the year was constriction -- a feeling of being caught in a prison of my own making. I weighed myself down heavily with unnecessary obligations, adding more and more tasks to an unstable pile. While this definitely helped me take my art business further than it’s ever been before, it also left me with a sour taste in my mouth. This - burned out, worried, stressed, exhausted - is NOT how I want to feel.
She asked me how I stay hopeful, even when things don’t turn out, and I was sad to not have a concrete answer. The only thing I could say is that it’s something I choose day after day, because if I don’t there would be no reason to take another breath. I have to believe that there is a solution that I haven’t found yet and I have to believe that what I want is possible and is out there waiting for me.