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  • Holly Gavin

Interview with Edie Overturf

1. Describe your typical week- in the studio, at home, other activities?

Teaching is a big part of each of my weeks. I teach three classes at Mount Hood Community College every term. My work week is 4-5 days, so finding time for the studio can get tricky, but I make it a priority to manage my calendar. I have a home studio that has an etching press, rollers and work spaces. I try to make room for at least 3 hours of studio time during the weekdays. My weekends include prioritizing time in the studio in balance with hiking, gardening and reading. My partner and I are new to Oregon, so we try to make time to explore our new home.

2. How do you balance your art practices with jobs, art or non-art related?

To balance my art practice with work, yoga, relationships, and enjoying the outside world I try to focus on the word "balance'. I cannot say that I spend the same amount of time in the studio per week, because sometimes things don't work out that way. I used to feel guilt when I was enjoying time outside of my studio when I felt what I "should" be doing was in the studio. But I now try to remind myself that time spent outside of that room, and outside of that headspace is just as valuable, and it often feeds my practice. Because of this belief, I often go in spurts. When there are deadlines looming, or when new methods of making are particularly exciting, I am more prolific in my making. But downtime is something that I see as essential in future developments, not just pauses in production.

3. How do you choose what imagery you are interested in creating? What are your inspirations?

I am a hoarder of imagery. I have a folder on my Google drive full of images that I try to keep organized. Most of these images are photographs I have taken at spaces that I have found profound. Some of those spaces are of interest from an intuitive sense, some are sought out spaces. I also collect vintage photographs from antique stores. I scan them and keep them alongside these images I have taken. These eventually get turned into a type of digital collage, and then translated into a woodcut or digital print.

Aside from image sources, I develop my imagery from concept up, but I allow intuitive processes to affect this method. Once I have a concept or an emotive goal for a new piece, I concentrate on symbolism to drive those goals. Then I scour my collection of images to begin the brainstorming process, and build the first iteration of the new piece. This process will often require editing and revisions, and multiple versions until it is fulfilling my intended goals.

4. Can you share your process of getting your work out in the world?

Printmakers have the opportunity to show the same work in multiple places simultaneously, and applying to juried exhibitions is a major way to get involved. Applying to fellowships that offer support and exhibition opportunities are a great way to get work out in the world. I don't have any trade secrets for communicating with gallerists, but my approach so far has been to introduce myself as a person and artists, and not as someone looking to gain something from the relationship. Making connections inevitably opens doors, and being genuine in those connections is important.

I have a few rules for myself that I can share:

  • don't spend art making energy on a commission for free or "for exposure". There are ways that someone can compensate for an artists time that isn't cash money, but some sort of appreciation other than lip service is mandatory.

  • keep applying to shows, fellowships, grants and residencies. Rejections will ALWAYS happen, but they make the 'yes' responses feel that much sweeter

  • keep a spreadsheet of things to apply to. Apply to them, no excuses.

  • share opportunities with others. Don't keep them a secret thinking it will reduce the competitive numbers. We are in this together as a community. One opportunity might not be the perfect fit for me, but it is for so many other artists I know. Share the opportunities and hopefully they will do the same.

5. Can you describe your art community? What kind of support do they offer, and how do you connect with others?

My local and immediate community has recently changed. I lived in Minneapolis, MN for eight years and recently relocated to Portland, Oregon for a tenure track position at Mount Hood Community College. My direct community is my colleagues at MHCC and a handful of artists that I know in Portland. I am slowly building that community, it takes time. I am not shy about reaching out to folks through Facebook or Instagram. I met one of my close friends here, Cammy York, through the Facebook printmaking community. And I have met some amazing artists here by sending direct message through their Instagram and asking for a coffee/ lunch meeting. I try not to think of it as networking, but making friends who have similar interests. These people naturally become your community.

I have moved around a bit, as many academics tend to do for their eduction and job opportunities. I make a distinct effort to stay in touch with college friends, professors, former colleagues and artists that I admire throughout the world. Local communities are necessary, but social media is a great tool for keeping in contact and staying connected with communities that are geographically far.

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