Interview with Cecilia Mignon
1. Describe your typical week-in the studio, at home, other activities?
Still a “working artist,” I spend the bulk of my week printing for a small gift shop in the Mission District of San Fransisco. I’m their risograph printer Monday - Friday, 9 - 5. Both the work week structure and also the full time printing has had a super boost to my personal practice. I split my time at home between my personal work, online printmaking consulting and yoga between different days. My studio practice has turned to a lot of hand-printed transfer collages at home. This has always been my favorite way of building a dialogue with my photography, composition and feeling. We have a small at-home press, but my favorite way of layering images is with my bone folder, my fedex photocopies and a little blender pen. I’ve been building up collections of small compositions and a few editions of small fabric prints.
I’m also a member of Max’s Garage Press in Berkeley. This is one of the biggest perks I’ve found since moving to California. Here is where I connect with other artists, blast out editions on the risograph or the litho press, brainstorm big and small projects, and soak up good weekend vibes. I try to go every Saturday and one weekday evening.
2. Describe your influences, what sources or artists do you look to for inspiration?
My inspiration is always kicked off with color and emotion. So, I find that for a photo-based artist, a lot of my influence comes from painters. Helen Frankenthaler has always been a favorite - her process based thinking and emotional color scapes send me reeling.
There are so many talented artists in the Bay and particularly talented painters. I keep going to openings for a artist named Lena Gustafsen. There seems to be no shortage of impactful contemporary work coming from sweet and approachable young artists. It’s like a dream and a nightmare at once. It’s kicking my butt to keep working and meeting more people.
3. Where is your studio and what does it look like? How do you find materials and resources to make your work?
My home studio is also my literal studio apartment. I share it with my boyfriend, Ryan, and our bunny, Lassie. Ryan’s also a printmaker, he does woodcuts of dreamy city scapes. I love them and his work ethic, if we’re talking about influences, he’s truly my biggest one.
We built half of our apartment with a double flat file holding up a wide desk that extends out to one side for the computer. Ryan built out shelving for ink and brushes and my film cameras to one side, and magnet strips for hanging our wet prints on the other side.
We also have a small press, an old line-o-scribe for sign printing in the fifties. This guy is heaving, but we move him off the table when we’re not printing.
Our shelves are healthily stocked, which is so nice. It took a long time to build up this collection of materials and a lot comes from my days in the color factory, where relief ink was easy to get a hold of. But, ironically, the stuff you really need is the stuff that’s harder to get. I keep a budget for kitikata paper for transfers and lithos, film developing and scanning, and a surprising amount goes to photocopies..
My favorite part of the studio is not the materials at all. It’s the light, it’s the flowers I sneak and through in glass bottles, it’s the drying rack of Ryan’s work, it’s our friend’s and mentor’s prints on the wall. It’s the view of and from my bed.
4. How do you balance your art practice with other jobs, art- or non art related?
I try to appreciate working full time. It will always feel like lost studio time, but paying the bills while still printing is a blessing. I’m spending my time layering colors, keeping my registration eye keen and also learning new skills about managing a print studio - a goal Ryan and I have in mind for the future.
Plus, when I can’t get to Max’s Garage Press, I can sometimes run my own editions at the end of the day. This is so nice.
Especially being here in the Bay, the studio practice, the show openings and the day job seem to go (chaotically) hand-in-hand.
5. What opportunities for professional development have have been most helpful to you? What were more helpful earlier on in your career? (print exchanges, workshops, conferences)
Going to conferences! Going to workshops! Pursuing and pursuing and pursuing printmaking until I’m blue in the face! It’s all been so important, it’s hard to know what was bigger than what.
Getting out to SGC every year had a huge impact on the scope of the community. The first time being in that energy was unlike anything I’d felt in art school and I loved it. But, what was way way better, was going back the second year. Being remembered by artists I looked up to the year before and reconnecting to build friendships that have lasted many years, was the most rewarding experience I’ve had outside of finishing my BFA. It was the “what comes next” to finishing school. And what came next was a lot of friends, a lot of work, long years in between, but friends and inspiration at the come around.
6. What does your research process look like before doing a project?
I’m in constant ebb and flow of research and working, sort of like being in a whirlpool forever. This week I’m reading Poetics of Space by Bachelard, hitting Rauschenberg’s retrospective (again) at SFMOMA, writing a lot about recurring symbols and their history. It all comes through in the work. Some things come up more clearly, other things seem to only coagulate in my writing, but give me perspective on my process. It’s like soaking up and ringing out a sponge. I imagine this could go on forever until something good comes up.
7. Can you share your process of getting your work out in the world? (types of venues, exhibition planning, process)
Right now, getting work out there means cultivating a community here, and sending work out to different parts of the world. I moved to Oakland last August, and ended my time in my hometown of Portland, Oregon with my first solo show. It was rewarding and sad at the same time.
While I’m looking forward to the day I have a community that can support a solo show here, I’m more interested in building one on one’s, striking up collaborations, and listening for things that peak interest. I found a group show in Sacramento, a risograph showcase in Chicago, and my friend’s are hosting an exchange that will show at SGC this spring.
For the most part, my process is saying yes. If it sounds interesting, say yes. Put work in the mail, because it always feels good. And always have something in SGC, soak up that energy!