Laura Berman

Laura Berman

Laura Berman

How did you discover the handmade printing world and why did you choose it as your art of expression?

When I was younger, I equally enjoyed both mathematics and art. I chose to study art in college, and this is where I discovered printmaking. Now I understand printmaking itself as a mix of science, art and abstract problem-solving, all of which I love. 

I began printmaking in college in upstate New York (Alfred University). I didn’t notice my affinity for printmaking until I took a sculpture class. While working on a metal forging project, I spent the majority of my time away from the forge itself, and instead I focused on the surface treatment– layering glazes that were melted in a kiln onto the metal shape to create dense, colorful patterns. These dozens of layers of painted glaze reminded me of applying ink to printing plates, and this is when I realized that I must return to the print studio as soon as possible.

Printmaking is a problem-solving medium, which requires iterative work. This fits me well, as I enjoy the endless process of discovery and challenge, both. I usually create work in a series and try different ideas on each monoprint I make.

Laura Berman

Laura Berman

What are you working on in your studio right now?

Right now I am experimenting with water-based paints and layering techniques in small paintings. I have spent 20 years focused on printmaking only, so painting is a new freedom for me. My imagery is abstract, pattern-based and always colorful. This series is titled “Inside and Outside” and the paintings tell the story of dynamic relationships within and without.

This summer I will create a new series of large-scale monoprints at Pele Prints in St. Louis, USA, where I have regularly published work by invitation since 2009.  Working Amanda Verbeck, the master printer at Pele Prints, is collaborative and very rewarding. Often the ideas we try together are inspired by my current direction with my studio work, and also these prints bring new ideas back to my studio.

Can you describe your working routine and how is your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I have a one-person printmaking studio, complete with a medium-size etching press. I recently moved my studio from a rented space to a 40-square-meter garage space adjacent to my house, and I am currently in the process of designing my new dream studio. Being in transition this year has affected my studio work, as my printmaking is temporarily paused during the studio renovation, and I have set up a temporary painting studio inside my house.

I enjoy working in a small and personal studio space. During the school year, I am a professor of printmaking at Kansas City Art Institute, where I enjoy a constant dialog with my students about their work and printmaking. Having my own private studio is a welcome refuge where I can immerse in my own thoughts and everything is still, peaceful, clean and in its right place. This is important to me, as my process of working has necessarily become very efficient after becoming a parent.

Laura Berman

Laura Berman

Tell me about your process, where or how things begin, how they evolve and with which material do you work.

Typically I work in the monoprint medium. My prints are built with multiple layers of transparent colors, on average 4-6 layers with 20-30 colors total in each print. I often work in a series, sharing my colors across prints and letting my ideas grow organically.

To begin, I create a very simple drawing as a composition guide for the print. All other decisions are made as the print is created. My printing process is very playful and improvisational, and this keeps everything interesting and fun for me. I do not plan much out before printing, and I often do not know what a print will turn out to be until it is actually underway.

I often compare my process of working to making music or cooking– lots of instruments, or lots of ingredients, all come together to create a unique sound, or unique taste that happens the way it does only in one moment in time.

Laura Berman

Laura Berman

What are you having the most trouble resolving in your process?

Time is always a challenge– there is never enough. I find that working in intense spurts, on a regular basis, is the most effective process for me to manage my time and momentum in my studio. Another challenge I have is commercial demand–some commercial success has brought more opportunity to my work. This requires more business management, more deadlines, more strategic thinking about how, when and where my work is exhibited and sold. These concerns can affect my creative process and time for making work, and I have to make a concerted effort to protect my creative processes from the practical sides of making art.

Laura Berman

Laura Berman

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

In the past I experimented a lot with materials; creating scratch-n-sniff prints, “invisible” prints that were made visible with a recipe of cabbage juice that I made myself, and working with installations of prints instead of singular images.

Since 2007, and coincidentally, around the same time I began working with commercial galleries, I have streamlined my process of working. Currently I work mostly in the monoprint medium, using oil-based inks on Rives BFK paper. I enjoy working with less options– I find that limitations enable me to have boundless creativity. Within these material parameters, I am very experimental and push the boundaries of what can happen with layers, colors and my unstructured and open process.

Laura Berman

Laura Berman

Tell me about your influences in the handmade printing range or in other ranges (music, cinema, etc)

Shape, color, form and precision are extremely important to me. I enjoy purity, beauty, and the pull humans have to create structure within, or to simply define, their environment. My influences include: handmade quilts, pattern design (in tiles, fabric, architecture and psychology), stars and space exploration, geology, and music of all kinds. Artists I admire include Polly ApflebaumDan WalshInaluxeAgnes Martin, Matisse, and Sarah Sze.


Laura Berman

Website: http://laurabermanprojects.com