It's a new month AND a new year. It's definitely time for a studio visit. This time we're visiting artist Josie Guenther.
Working from her home studio in Winnipeg, Josie uses silkscreen printing techniques to print onto linen. She makes table runners, scarves, napkins, tea towels, pillows, and throw blankets. Her creations are both a treat to touch and to look at, and visiting her last week was a highlight.
Name and business: Josie Guenther, Josie Guenther: contemporary textiles
City: Winnipeg, MB
Medium(s): screen printing, dyeing, textiles
How did you come to choose screen printing?
I went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and took mainly printmaking classes until my last couple of years when I started doing more work with textiles. My work in school tended to be minimal and pattern based, so making textiles seemed like a good fit for my art. I like the idea of using art in a somewhat more useful way. A throw that can also be hung on the wall as a piece of art is kind of amazing to me.
What influences or inspires your work?
It seems like the “makers” market just keeps growing and growing and more and more amazing markets and entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere. This is kind of amazing and scary at the same time. It’s inspiring to see interesting small business’s make it work and make it big. That’s my goal.
I’m really into Belgian artist LRNCE right now. She makes these amazing textiles that are complete works of art and so simple and beautiful. I’ve always been drawn to minimalist design, both because of its aesthetic and also how bold it is to make something so simple go so far. You’re not working with much, so each design choice you make counts for a lot. Scary, but effective!
What’s your guilty pleasure T.V. show ?
My partner and I have been really into watching past seasons of Survivor. The All Star seasons are so good. Its fun watching social experiments from afar and watching the “players” be so into the game itself. The current season we’re watching includes a homemade spy shack. It’s awesome.
Do you have a studio ritual?
When coming up with a new design (for a throw for example), I start with a sketch on paper, transfer it to a stencil, figure out the spacing of the pattern, print the pattern on cheaper fabric and pin it up on the wall and stare at it. If I like it the way it looks I’ll print it on nice fabric, then wash it to see what it's like after being washed and soft. Then I usually throw it on the couch to see what it looks like in a home setting and where the pattern is hidden in the wrinkles and folds of the fabric. In terms of a studio ritual, I tend to watch a lot of bad t.v. while I do tedious things like heat setting ink (curing the ink to the fabric). I always end up clicking on random shows on Netflix and just kind of go for it and get hooked. My boyfriend comes home and is like, what is this???
What has been the biggest challenge thus far in your career?
Getting past production issues. Screen printing is great, but it can be really really frustrating when it's not working properly, and messing up can be costly. Also, since I work from home, I wash out my screens in my bathtub. Washing ink off of my bath tub every time I print gets old really really fast. I go through a lot of magic erasers.
Another challenge is making something different than other artists. Screen printing patterns on linen housewares isn’t something totally new, so making it my own and standing out is something to always keep in mind. I've recently been thinking about expanding my range of fabrics and types of products. While I'm usually terrified to expand the range of what I do, I'm scared of becoming trapped in the box I've potentially created for myself. My sister gave me an idea for a summer project (hint: denim) and I'm super excited to get started on it. I think it's important to use the cycle of making brand new things, streamlining, then doing it again. Gotta keep it interesting but organized!
You can find more of Josie's work on her website or instagram account.