Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Artist Feature: The Wonderful work of Katharine Watson

This week I am delighted to feature the very talented printmaker Katharine Watson. Katharine was born in New York but grew up in London and Hong Kong. In 2008 she traveled to India to study block printing. She wanted to use the technique of block printing and linoleum carving to create beautiful, functional products, from stationery to textiles. Katharine draws inspiration from traditional textiles and folk arts: old prints, quilts and embroideries.

Katharine believes that the most important aspect of her work is keeping the tradition of hand-printing alive in a way that is both beautiful and accessible. Each piece is individually printed in Katharine's studio, formerly in Washington, DC and currently in Hyde Park, VT.

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I studied printmaking in college, and also studied block printing while studying abroad in India. After college I worked in a paper store, and began combining printmaking and stationery. I started to sell it at a few art fairs and to friends, and eventually it grew in to a larger business. After about a year of a heavier workload I quit my job to focus on printmaking full time, and it grew exponentially from there.

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

I start by sketching out ideas and looking through textile books for inspiration. Then I will sketch a design onto linoleum, carve it with carving knives and print it with oil-based or rubber-based inks.

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

There hasn't been one single obstacle, but running a business has been all about little obstacles. Suppliers with products out of stock, orders with emergency deadlines, mistakes on the press, packages delayed in the mail. All of these little challenges are incredibly frustrating at the time but help in the long run as you develop strategies to get around them.

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

Paying the bills is a big motivator! If I ever don't feel like working, I remember that there are customers waiting for their orders and other administrative things that need to be finished. That is a good motivator to stop procrastinating. It's also easy to stay motivated when you love what you do!

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?

Getting to be my own boss and do this as my job every day. Almost every day I look around and think how lucky I am to get to do this for work.

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

I really admire people who create work and don't get to put their name on it: textile artists, weavers, printmakers, folk artists from around the world. That is the kind of work that inspires me.

7. Describe your creative space.

I have a studio in my garage with work benches, my printing press, my massive paper cutter, and my desk where I answer emails, sketch new designs and carve linoleum blocks. It is usually in some state of "creative" chaos.

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Find your niche. Do what you are best at, find your own style and you will stand out. I think what has made me successful is having such a narrow focus.

Block printed Journal and Hand Block Printed Quilt detail 

Here is one of Katharine's cards up on my studio board- I look forward to framing it in my new studio.

You can keep up to date with Katharine's work here...

(all above images are © Katharine Watson)