Elizabeth Corkery has just moved to Boston and launched Print Club Boston, an online resource for affordable limited edition silkscreen prints, all of which are made in her studio. We talked London, Sydney and New York, co-working spaces and favourite colours…
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
I’m fiercely determined to forge a successful career from the skills I learned at art school, against all odds! Also I’m a huge worrier and my favourite blog is thingsorganizedneatly.
At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker quote, I have realised life is a little too short to spend my days doing anything other than which inspires and excites me.
You’ve studied in London, New York (state) and Sydney – how did your experiences differ and how has each place affected your work?
My studies in Sydney were really during a foundational period in my art practice. As most young students do, I probably treated university more like a part-time job than I should have. I loved being centrally situated in Paddington, we really felt pretty hip and had close access to the nearby art galleries as well as design and furniture stores that stocked the work of contemporary makers to which we all aspired.
Ithaca was vastly different. It is a small town about four hours northwest of New York City. It’s an incredibly picturesque, leafy, lake region that in hindsight certainly promoted a turn in my interests towards gardens and outdoor environments. Being at Cornell was also very enriching for my practice in terms of access to its libraries and research facilities and all the diverse and committed expertise of its faculty.
London is an amazing city and has both fantastic venues for international contemporary art and community-driven spaces for the production of new work. I was completing a summer course at Central Saint Martins in their new Granary building by Kings Cross Station and it was without a doubt the most incredible art school facility I’ve ever seen. I wanted to live there! While I was there I also made sure to visit many of the different membership-based printmaking studios around the city, East London Printmakers and Print Club London were both so well run, it was very inspiring.
Tell me about Print Club Boston.
Print Club Boston is an online resource for limited edition silkscreen prints. The prints are released as a series, with each collection having a thematic cohesion and production. They are all hand-pulled in small editions at my studio in Somerville, MA and I’ve kept them accessibly priced so they can make their way into the homes of any and all lovers of print. In addition to being for sale, a portion of each print edition is kept available for a ‘print swap’. Swappers can propose an exchange of a good or service and their print comes free of traditional charge. So far we’ve swapped with artists in Sydney, Spain, Croatia, California and local designers here in Boston.
What do you think is driving the trend for collaborative working spaces?
Broadly, the move towards creative professionals working for themselves rather than for larger companies is creating the isolation that the freelance life can lead to. For printmaking more specifically, the collaborative workspace is crucial. With the necessary equipment for most print processes being so large and expensive, printers have always come together to set up cooperative studio spaces where a creative hub can form. This is something I hope that Print Club Boston can eventually establish – a non-profit screenprinting studio that offers open membership access for printmakers of all levels as well as offering workshops and events.
Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Elizabeth Corkery.
Both can happen in the studio and the difference can simply be one of those days when everything goes right – prints turn out beautifully and I’m being really productive and efficient – and one where everything goes wrong – ink is misbehaving, colours aren’t working with each other, and I’m making a huge mess! Those days keep me up at night worrying and hoping that the next will be better.
What advice would you give to an aspiring print maker?
If you haven’t already, take a workshop or course that is going to give you access to equipment and experienced printers. Almost every art school will have summer or evening courses listed through their website. Printmaking is definitely a process-driven medium and getting the fundamentals right is incredibly important for when you want to start breaking the rules or writing your own. Printers are incredibly community-minded and love to connect with one another, so have a look at who is in your area and see what they’re up to and what events they’re putting on at their studio. People of Print and Printeresting are two fantastic blogs that cover the print world pretty comprehensively.
What defines good design?
I think the same as for good art; it evokes an emotional or physiological response – a quickening of the heart or beautiful clearing of the mind. You know it when you see it – you don’t need someone else to tell you it’s good and it stays with you.
What are you most proud of?
When I look back on my development as an artist during my time at grad school, I think that makes me most proud. I had the unique opportunity to spend a committed amount of time reflecting on and writing about my practice and also presenting it in exhibitions of expanded scale and ambition. Without that period of investigation and development I don’t think I would have the confidence to embark on even half of my current endeavours.
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
Green, absolute no-brainer!
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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