New York-based artist Cary Hulbert joins us as our featured Limited Edition Print Artist at Affordable Art Fair NYC! Made exclusively for the fall edition, Cary’s print series will feature a collection of 10 limited edition artworks that will be on display and available for purchase onsite at the fair. We sat down with Cary to chat about her inspiration, her process and her advice for aspiring contemporary artists today.
1. What sparked your interest in printmaking?
I was first captivated by printmaking during a relief course which I took as part of a pre-college program in Beverly, MA back in 2002.
For me, printmaking is a toolset an artist can bring with her no matter what the project. [Exactly which tools she uses will always vary—depending on the project, but also depending on the artist herself]. For example, the print I created for the Affordable Art Fair NYC incorporates silkscreen, foil, photogravure, and laser etching.
2. What was your inspiration behind the Limited Edition Print you created for Affordable Art Fair NYC?
I am constantly inspired by the challenge of pushing past the conventional boundaries of traditional printmaking. I'm always trying to think of new, interesting ways I can make a printed image three-dimensional, breaking down the physical confines of the paper I'm printing on.
The print I made for the Affordable Art Fair NYC has two palm trees that are laser cut and fold over the print, adding another dimension. It's the first print edition I've made which incorporates that method.
As for the content of my prints, a driving force behind all my work is the future. Especially the future of technology, and our society, and the environment.
3. Your signature technique is photogravure. Can you tell us a little more about the process and how it's used in your work?
Photogravure allows you to do anything with a copper plate. You can create a plate from a drawing or a photograph, and then work back into the image using your etching tools. In my own work, I typically make collages in Photoshop that then become my photogravures. My collages are made from objects I've created in various programs, photos, scanned drawings, and found images.
The actual process of photogravure is quite technical, and usually takes an entire day. But it's well worth the time and energy.
You start by sensitizing a pigmented gelatin tissue, which you then burn your image into using a light source. The gelatin is then transferred to a copper plate and developed using hot water baths. At this point, the gelatin varies in thickness over the surface of the plate in correspondence with the tone of the original image.
Now the plate is ready for multiple acid baths of varying strength. In these baths, the tissue dissolves at different intervals which in combination with a resin aquatint creates the tone, leaving you with a replica of your original image on a copper plate.
That's a very simplified version of a much more complicated process, but I think it adequately describes the process I go through to make my work.
4. What would you say are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of being an artist today?
I would say right now one of the most challenging aspects of being an artist involves a problem artists have always faced: coping with the psychological ups and downs of seeking out funding and opportunities to exhibit. There are so many great shows, residencies, and grants, that require competing alongside dozens of other talented artists and then ultimately receiving either an acceptance or rejection. So, when one of my applications is actually accepted, it is very motivating. It's a satisfying feeling when your hard work pays off, and you move closer towards your goals.
5. What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Here I'll share some of the advice passed on me which I have found most helpful: always make your work for yourself and no one else.
There are many obstacles along the road of becoming a professional artist and lots of them may require sacrificing your artistic vision. But when you make your work for yourself, failure doesn't become a fear, and chances are better you'll have a long and healthy practice.
Main Image: Cary Hulbert in Studio. Courtesy of Affordable Art Fair NYC.
Portrait: Cary Hulbert. Courtesy of the artist.
Artwork: 'Current status' by Cary Hulbert. 2017. Photogravure, silkscreen, foil and laser etching. 15 x 22 in. Unframed: $300. Framed: $445.