Bryant Street Billboard
|Eastside Editions printer David
Avery sat down for an interview
with Jenny Robinson about her inspirations and the process of
working at Eastside Editions.
David Avery – Perhaps the first thing to ask, given your
background, is what drew you to printmaking, why
did you decide to become a printmaker?
Jenny Robinson –When I did my foundation course in England,
it was just printmaking, printmaking is what captured me, you
know, because when you’re in foundation you do so many techniques,
and we did quite a big block in printmaking. It
was just the one thing that I found, that and photography, that
I really found
that I was creative. I enjoyed it and I really
enjoyed sort of the detail orientation of printmaking.
DA – Given that you chose that, how do you select and
develop your images? How did you get into the urban
JR – Well, when I went to college I did a lot of traveling.
And I took my watercolor sketchbook with me and
I found that I was drawn to architecture and the way the light
in places like India. The light’s very strong there. And
although the work I was doing then was a bit over
romantic, I suppose, maybe not romantic, but it
was more color orientated
and detail orientated because although I was doing
sketches I was also taking back-up photographs.
And then when I got back
to England and I would do the work, I would get
too bogged down in details from the photographs.
So what I’ve tried to do within the last ten years or so
is to paint photographically inspired work but rely on my sketches
much more for the sense of the place. The sketches are much more
intimate and they’re much more what I want to try to convey
in the prints. So I tried to use back-up photographs just to get
the details I want in. And then I’ll put that aside and
I’ll work from my sketches which are much much looser and
much more intimate and they kind of have that atmosphere
that I want to create in the work.
DA – So even the billboard print which is very detailed
JR – For that I did a couple of really loose sketches with
more rectangles and color sections for the shapes
more than anything. And the shadows came later. They create the
true shapes within
the shapes that are really there. So that is what
I was trying to concentrate on and I use photography for the initial
And then I try to put that away and just play with
colors and shapes much more.
DA- You’re an accomplished printmaker in your own right,
primarily monoprint, but you came to work in a
studio with a printer. How is it to work with a master printer
and does it change your
approach or do you have any particular observations
about the difference in working that way?
JR –It is very different, obviously. I‘ve really enjoyed
it because it’s nice to sort of spend time with another
human being which you don’t do when you’re in your
studio. And I think because I haven’t done multi-plate etching
since I was in college it’s been great working with you
because I wouldn’t have known where to start.
I think it’s a little less spontaneous. Because that’s
the way I usually work – more painterly. So I’ll make
my plate and then I’ll put the colors on in a much more
spontaneous manner and each print is totally different. And that’s
probably the biggest change for me working with you… making
editions. But it doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed the
challenge. I’m enjoying the challenge and it’s also
really nice to have an edition. Especially of something
that took so long. And these prints took what, three months?
DA – Well worth the time.
JR – And I think it really shows in the prints.
DA – I was curious because there’s a remark in your
bio about the type of monoprint you do enabling
you to work unhindered by more complex printmaking methods.
JR – Well, I think part of that maybe is because I wouldn’t
have the patience to do that on my own. And to work with someone
very clearly who knows what they’re doing and also the fact
you know, you do a lot of the work.
DA – I do the grunt work, don’t
JR – You do all the prints. You edition them.
DA – You know some artists are very hands-on with this and
some aren’t and you’re very hands-on because of your
JR – Yeah, so you know I think I wouldn’t have the
patience to actually print an edition of twenty, and great that
you do that. I think the technical aspects of it to get somewhere
have been great for me because it’s something different
from what I usually do. And I love to learn to
DA – Do you find that that influences you going back to
your monoprints? Do you approach those with any
JR – I don’t know because I think everything you do
in printmaking you learn something new. And I mean that’s
what I love about printmaking too is that it doesn’t matter
who you meet your going to learn something interesting. I just
did a monoprint workshop in Chico and I mean I learned a bunch
of stuff. And also I think printmakers are very generous as well.
They’re very generous with their knowledge. And that’s
one thing you can say about printmakers, is that they’ll
show all the knowledge they have and they’ll gladly show
it. I mean I learned five or six different techniques
up there in Chico. And the same as working with you now I learn
a lot of
new things. And I think all of that is in the next
set of work that you do.