Interview with Hannah King

Picture 10 I'm very excited to announce that Hannah King will be contributing weekly to this blog, sharing great finds -- visual, artistic, design, anything that might catch her eye -- for all of us to drool over and admire. Hannah is currently a grad student in the book & paper program at Columbia College in Chicago, and hosts her own blog Made by Good, where I will be a regular poster in turn. To introduce Hannah, and as the first of my "In Conversation" interview posts, Hannah and I corresponded over the internets to bring you a little slice of her life. Hannah is an amazing artist, especially if you can see her in her element in the studio. Please say hello to Hannah, and look for her first post tomorrow!

(Hannah's answers are in bold.)

N: I’m so excited to have you on my blog on a weekly basis. Since you’ll be blogging about things that inspire you (and in turn will inspire all of us), why don’t we start with something fun. What are a few of your favorite things right now?

H: I’m so excited too! Lately, I’ve been liking a lot of embellishments, bright colors, and retro/vintage looking papers. Cloth covered brads and buttons, paper flowers, and ribbon are inspiring a lot of what I’m making. I always find that a change in season is a great catalyst for making refreshed things - this is especially true this summer after surviving my first Chicago winter! All I want to use are light and bright colors and patterns!

 

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Your commitment to letterpress is apparent--from the type high tattoo on your wrist, the time you spent at Wells, to the small press you acquired to start your own studio. What sparked the love affair?

 

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I took my first class that involved letterpress my second semester of undergrad at Memphis College of Art. Never ever had I done anything that I was so comprehensively attracted to. I loved the process and the product equally from the start.

There is something about the physicality of printing that I really enjoy. When I print I’m on my feet, cranking the press, putting my face close to the type, handling everything tweaking, rearranging, measuring - my hands get inky and I’m oh so tired after I’m done. To me, there’s nothing abstract or distant about it. And craftsmanship is so important. There is no way to fudge printing. That it’s such a demanding practice is really attractive to me. One really has to work hard to get a worthwhile result.

Working with people like Terry Chouinard at Wells College and Steve Miller from the University of Alabama (folks who are really amazing printers) the summer after my sophomore year of college really solidified my desire to be a printer. Watching someone handle a press with such ease and grace made me want to be that way --- as soon as that summer was done I got my type high tattoo and kind of decided that I was in it for life. It was a super feeling and one that I get every time I walk into a room full of presses.

 

Like many bookmakers, you also have a love for paper. How does making paper change the artwork that you construct with it, if at all?

When I’m working with paper I try to always be very deliberate with how I use it. One of the interesting things about being a papermaker is that people are so used to paper as a surface upon which you apply another medium. But for me the paper IS the whole work. Images are created using pulp painting (taking finely beaten pulp, pigmenting it, then applying it to a still wet sheet of paper) or by creating three dimensional forms from the sheets.

For me, as with printing, the physical act of making paper injects immediate meaning into the resulting sheets or sculptures. That meaning is based in my intense physical presence in the construction. A finished paper piece is directly representative to me of time passed and time recorded do those two ideas definitely end up affecting what I end up with pretty much all the time.

You moved to Chicago last year to start your MFA in book and paper at Columbia College, correct? From just the little time I spent there, I still picked up on the sense of wonder and energy as I travelled about on the El or by foot. Has Chicago changed you as an artist in any way?

I think being in any new place is always good for an artist. I feel like there’s so much to see in Chicago and because so much of the moving around is, like you said, on foot or public transportation, you have so much more of a connection with your surroundings. So, I definitely feel like I’m paying more attention - looking outward and making work more about big ideas rather than personal experiences.

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Having just finished my MFA, I know that for me, summers became this cherished and longed for time of freedom and possibility. Does it feel that way to you? What’s in store for you this summer?

It absolutely feels that way to me! I’m loving summer so much.

This summer I plan on working on my blog and Etsy store (hopefully a lot) and then I’ll be working with Kyle Schlesinger of Cuneiform Press to create an editioned artist book in July.

I’m really excited about having the time to make stuff just to make stuff - not for class or a professor but just to make because it’s so fun and makes me happy!

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Thank you so much, Hannah!