In 2005 Susann Pönisch who lives and works in Berlin Germany began to print her drawings in the "Fleischerei", an open screen printing workshop in Berlin-Mitte. Since that time, screen printing has become an important part of the artistic work of Susann. The stencils for the prints are produced by the direct drawing on tracing paper with a variety of materials, such as acrylic, charcoal, ink, gouache and fineliner. There are built, layer by layer, prints from which emerge books, series or unique pieces at the end.
How did you discover the handmade printing world and why did you choose it as your art of expression?
It was at an art school on the open day, where I've seen a screen printing workshop and the prints that were displayed there for the first time. I knew immediately that I wanted to do that too.
Then I was accepted to study at the Art Academy Berlin Weissensee, but had to do an internship before. At that time, ca. 2008, there was a large open screen printing workshop in Berlin-Mitte called the "Fleischerei" where I made my first prints and said internship.
There I came to know a lot of other printers, and could work quiet freely and autonomous. And since then.. I print.
What I like about printing is that there is always a limit or a clarity that I do not have when I draw or paint. I make all my stencils manually, and at some point in the process I decide that the thing is ready for printing. Of course, you can create different variations a stencil, but the shape always remains the same.
What are you working on in your studio right now?
At the moment I am preparing together with a collective of printers an art auction, whose proceeds will go to a club which is using the money to finance an emergency shelter for the homeless. I am designing an event poster for the auction, which I will then print, and a kimono. During the auction a Kimono Fashion Show will take place, where various artists will present their own designs and I am too.
Can you describe your working routine and how is your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I don't necessarily have a working routine. Sometimes I make screen prints in my own studio, then I'm back in another studio where I can make etchings, and if I do not want to print then I paint or draw. The only routine that I really have is that I begin working between 9 and 10:00 am.
I do not run alone my studio, but with two more partners. We are well equipped for screen printing, have a small letterpress, lead type setting and a nice big table where you can also print really big formats once in a while. I feel very good at this location and can realize most of my ideas there.
Tell me about your process, where or how things begin, how they evolve and with which material do you work.
In the beginning there is always an issue with which I want to deal. Some idea may have arisen quite spontaneously, but there are also ideas that I have in my head for months until I start with the implementation. I make sketches and write down thoughts, until I have a rough idea on how I can implement the relevant topic. Then I start.
The process itself is usually composed of two parts. In the first part I start to work out definite or figurative motifs from my memory by using a printing technique, usually screen printing but etching too. I always draw or paint my screen printing stencils with a variety of materials such as acrylic, ink, watercolor, graphite, charcoal, fineliner, etc. . It starts with the first color, that works like a rough sketch, and after the print, I draw the next stencil. The image grows and peels out slowly, thus the many layers of paint.
In the second part I then work with the stencils or prints and use them to produce very free works. The start is determined by chance that I steer gently and that then leads to compositions which did not exist in my imagination before. I basically sample myself, and I keep creating new samples again and again.
What are you having the most trouble resolving in your process?
Sometimes I have a feeling of not making any progress, of not having new knowledge and that's somehow frustrating and unsettling.
Meanwhile, I do know that then I have to just go ahead and keep making. So far, that has always worked.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
Both… Of course, I have materials which I work with over and over again, that are very familiar to me, but nonetheless I often try out something new. I work part time in a small artists' materials shop where I find a lot of new materials which I try out too. This is always a bit exciting, because you do not know what will happen and that's thrill as I like it.
Tell me about your influences in the handmade printing range or in other ranges (music, cinema, etc.)
As I have already told you at the beginning, I started in an open studio for printing. There was always a lot of artists who printed there and lively exchange. Since that time I have been involved in a lot of projects where you come together, work together, talk shop. In addition, I studied at art school, where I have seen and learned a lot. And I had a great professor, Nanne Meyer, who accompanied the last few years of my studies and encouraged me on my way at the university.