Interview with Joanne Price
What inspires you to make art?
My life and surrounding environment always influence and inspire my art. My husband is an amateur astronomer and when we moved from Minneapolis to Kentucky, he wanted to live in an area with dark skies — so after looking at a dark sky map, we found a place to live in rural Kentucky. Moving from an urban to a very rural area changed and influenced my art, my career, and my focus. It reconnected me with nature — the kind of connection I had as a child running carefree through the woods with a curiosity for everything. KY is where I started Starpointe Studio.
I really enjoy a good story. A narrative illustration is very satisfying.
What is a typical week like for you?
My schedule revolves around my job and a prioritized list of tasks. My weeks used to be (pre-Covid) relatively flexible, but I make a schedule every few days to keep my mind focused on what I need to prioritize in four general categories of my life and work: Starpointe Studio work (personal art business), Wood Engravers’ Network business (I am President of the group, journal contributions, organizing exhibitions and events, 501c3 compliance, etc), and Personal tasks (house cleaning, yard work, cooking, errands, etc). Outside of work, I try to limit my time at the computer to no more than 1-1.5 hours per day — this has been difficult to stick to. My job at Comics Experience is about 30 hours per week. I had, on average, spent about 8 hours per week on tasks for the Wood Engravers’ Network (WEN) — a voluntary position to organize a group I enjoy greatly. WEN has been a heavy load the past year because I put together their federal tax exempt application and submitted it at the end of March — the most grueling application I have ever compiled consuming more than one hundred hours of time and effort. Studio work includes commissions, printing and sewing face masks (for now), project quotes, book keeping, promotion (ie: art fairs, exhibitions, website, social media, etc) and personal projects. I am happiest when I’m in my studio at least 2 hours a day. In warmer months I also enjoy tending my vegetable garden.
What environment helps you focus to create art?
The quiet familiarity and comfort of my studio is my favorite place for creating art, but I have waited a long time and collected and built what I needed over 15 years. My art studio has my 3 relief printing presses, 2 cabinets of lead type, engraving desk, small paper cutter and work tables.
I tend to spread out — I have an office (desktop computer, scanner, ink jet printer) separate from my art studio. I created a recording studio for virtual demos in a spare bedroom that also doubles as a sewing room for recent face mask making. So, I pretty much make whatever I have access to work. For more than 10 years, my kitchen table was my work space for art.
What advice would you give your younger self if you could?
Don’t make hasty decisions — “haste makes waste” should have been my mantra. I’m not sure what else. I have always been someone who needs to experience things for themselves — in other words, I'm stubborn — so I’m not sure much advice would have been heeded.
What is your favorite type of art to make?
Printmaking and specifically relief printmaking (wood engraving, moku hanga, woodcut, linocut) are my jam. I often say that I am a closet sculptor. Print is not just about printing — the creation of the plates and blocks is a whole other set of skills — as is drawing. I AM a sculptor as I carve my blocks. Drawing is a HUGE part of every print I do. I create works that are hybrids composed of different mediums — things that defy easy categorization (mixed media feels like a cop-out). I also do a lot of book arts work and the occasional painting.
What are some challenges you have had to overcome in your journey as a professional artist?
Like everyone, the most recent challenge in my journey has been related to the consequences of a global pandemic. I was laid off from my part-time teaching position (Print Media) at the University of KY after the spring 2020 semester because of budget cuts related to Covid. After having lost so many hours in my studio to figure out online teaching (on top of all the efforts I had made towards that position at UK over the years), art fairs cancelled resulting in the loss of a good chunk of income, and travel overseas cancelled, and on and on — it all stung. It sucked.
But I have everything I need where I am sheltering — I am in a rural area and I have a well equipped studio, internet access, a home, a home office, access to a minimum of 5 acres and local farmer's food sources, and established garden habits. There’s been a whole lot of “chin up” attitude adjustments because really, my challenges could be so much more. Things may get worse — they probably will, but focusing on that just creates a great deal of stress about something I have no control over. So, I try to ask myself questions related to the future — where do I want to be with my art in 3 years — what will help me get there? This ultimately helps guide me through whatever is ahead.
I made face masks with original prints over the summer. Sales were very good actually. And now, I have a new job, a mere 20 minute drive (versus 1 hour to the University) from my home, pays me more than part-time university teaching gig and still engages me with graphic arts and book arts in an entirely new context through Comics Experience. I’ll take that as a win!