Spins and Needles show

I will have some work in a print show in Ottawa this weekend, and I also did an interview with these guys! you can read it here:


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Next up in our Prints & Inks profile is Toronto-based artist Alicia Nauta. Her practice falls under what she likes to call Alicia’s Klassic Kool Shoppecollage, screenprinting, installation, bookworks, occasionally weird papier maché, and a growing collection of found oddities. Right now you can find her screenprinted wallpaper all around the city, such as at the independent shop Likely General, in the lobby of The Drake Hotel, and in the staircase of DIY art/music venue Double Double Land.
As an OCAD student, she established the OCAD University Zine Library in 2007 (read more how and why she did so here). Currently, Alicia works as a Programmer at artist-run centre Xpace Cultural Centre, where she co-established the new Library, including a zine Library, mix tape library and curated library. She is a member of Punchclock print studio.

Here’s what she had to say about her work:

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1. Describe your path to what you’re doing now. What got you interested in print?

I graduated from Printmaking at OCADU about 4 years ago now. Jesjit Gill (who now runs Colour Code, a risograph and screenprint company) was in my classes and really involved in printing, especially poster work and organizing art and music shows outside the school curriculum. He was a big inspiration to me.

Oh yeah and definitely Seripop! They made me consider print in a totally different way, as well think about paper in a more sculptural or installation-based way.

I became interested in screen printing because it is an accessible medium that I could actually pursue outside of school, and as a way of translating my drawings and collages to larger projects, like printed wallpaper and banners, or into a more widespread form like posters, bookworks, and multiples. I was also interested in learning a translatable skill, one that I could apply to commercial work if needed.
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2. What are some of your influences? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

OK this is going to be pretty long, my apologies, I love writing these lists because I think it’s pretty important to think about what influences your work and why.

Full moons, Honest Ed’s, faded stuff at Dollar Stores going out of business, hibernating worms, worms in general, aliens, UFO stories, thinking about New Mexico and the desert though never having been there, tumbleweeds, homemade Halloween costumes, party decor stores, houseplants, quilts (especially from Gees Bend), large bodies of water, swimming, fires, strange dreams, untranslatable words, textile patterns, rugs, old wallpaper, the way people decorate their homes and bedrooms specifically, Clement Hurd’s illustrations in Goodnight Moon, making and eating food, garage sales, clowns, Mingering Mike, DIY home decor/repair guides from thrift stores, weeds growing out of cracks in sidewalks, impossible architecture, personal interest museums in people’s homes, the Voynich manuscript, meteor showers and eclipses, Carl Sagan and the Voyager project, handmade signs, independently owned hardware stores.

And of course my incredibly hardworking friends who make inspiring, intelligent, thoughtful, weird, and beautiful art and music.
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3. Describe your creative process. What techniques/tools/materials do you use to translate your ideas into your work?

I make collaged compositions that can be read as astronomical and celestial in content and layout, and also suggest the natural world. Many of the compositions also make reference to strange interiors, where the perspective is distorted, and can be familiar and alienating at the same time.
The source material for the collages includes pre-computer graphic design manuals, ink drawings, quilting and crochet templates, DIY framing and home decor guides, illustrated botany encyclopedias, op art patterns, half-tone dot patterns of varying sizes, blobs and geometrical shapes. These are then cut and pasted, and manipulated by hand and by photocopying.

In exploiting the xeroxed multiple to create larger installations, I draw from other DIY practices such as poster-making and quilt-making, where smaller pieces make up a greater whole. If I am screen printing, I separate the image into layers and print it by hand, or on an automatic press which I’ve recently learned to use.

I’m mostly (if not fully) analog in the way I work, which speaks to some of my ideas and references, and for me is an exciting aspect because there’s always an element of spontaneity, and annoyingly, mistakes. Mistakes are ok too, although I have to remind myself of this sometimes.
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4. There is a collaborative aspect to your practice. What are some examples of projects you’ve worked on with others? How does collaboration contribute to your work?

Collaborating is difficult, stressful, frustrating, and equally exciting, enriching, and important.
I have collaborated with my friend Eunice Luk (editor’s note: also a featured artist at Prints & Inks) on several projects which have been so fun and rewarding; together we are better at problem solving, and generally have more exciting ideas and more laughs. We have different skills that end up complimenting each other. She will be publishing a book that Jesjit and I are working on together currently.

I’ve collaborated with a lot of individuals and organizations involved with more alternative music and art events, from making the poster and tickets, to doing installations, to putting up permanent wallpaper to making loot bags. I’ve also started designing and printing record and tape covers, which is something I love doing, trying to make a visual representation of an auditory experience. Music is a big inspiration for me anyways, so it’s a pretty natural progression to be drawn to making cover art.

Collaborating can take many forms and shapes, and I think it’s really the best route to not only a satisfying art career but also life; we’re richer in our skills and abilities and if we trade and work with each other we probably have a better chance at getting the things we need.
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5. Currently you’re based in Toronto. How’s it like living there as an artist?

I love Toronto! The people at least, I feel really lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive and creatively stimulating group of people. The performance art duo Life of a Craphead host a monthly performance art and comedy night at Double Double Land that’s the best. Some friends just opened a new space in Chinatown called 8-11. There’s a monthly food/art/music event in the east end called Feast in the East. Plus a variety of other events and people just making it happen everyday!
I’m personally not into winter (I dislike being sad and cold) so I have to admit it’s a struggle to live here for basically half the year. Toronto is also expensive, it’s difficult to be an artist because studio space is limited and prices exorbitant, and the rise in condo developments means even less affordable space for living and for working, especially downtown.

I’m a member at a print studio called Punchclock, which seems to be one of the few buildings left downtown that house a variety of artists, woodworkers, metalworkers, glass studios etc. In the past, Punchclock has had to relocate because the building it was housed in was sold to a condo development. Unfortunately I fear that could happen again, but we’ll see.

6. What’s next for you in terms of creative projects?

I’m doing an staircase installation this summer at Artscape Youngplace, designing and printing a tape cover for Carl Didur, making a book with Jesjit and Eunice, doing installations for a music event on Toronto Island, attending a two week residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point and of course art book and zine fair season is coming up! Zine Dream is one of my favourites and takes place at the Tranzac in early August.
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7. Bonus question: Your favourite music artist/band/album?

Ooooh so many! too many to list. A couple local favourites would include Petraglynt (her label Healing Power Records is so good and puts out a lot of Toronto essentials), U.S. Girls, Tenderness, Carl Didur and Zacht Automaat, and Man Made Hill. sahel sounds just released another album by Mammane Sani et Son Orgue that is really incredible.

Also, my friend Julia Dickens (editor’s note: also a featured artist at Prints & Inks) runs a great blog that features mixes made exclusively by women, so many goodies there! I made one if you are so inclined you can listen here.