Interview with T-shirt design winner Elise Kane

elise kane at handprints opening

Woodland Hills resident Elise Kane is the artist behind “Octopus,” one of the two winning designs that we printed at our silkscreening workshop last month. We followed up with her with a few questions about her experience.

Where did you first learn the art of printmaking, and intaglio specifically?

I learned intaglio and screenprinting while still a student at UC Davis. My intaglio instructor was Stella Ebner and my screenprinting instructor was Malaquias Montoya, who is known for his art activism in and on behalf of the Chicano community.

What was the octopus print originally created for?

We had been given an assignment in Stella Ebner’s class to create a series that demonstrated the development of a drawing on the metal intaglio plate. In other words, everyone created prints for each of six or seven stages of their etchings. When laid side by side in chronological order, your prints told the story of how that drawing came to fruition.

How did it feel first seeing 100+ votes for your design on the website and then seeing people print it on shirts?

To be honest, in my mind, I think those votes were a fluke. However, in the end, I hope people enjoyed the design.

Have you been wearing your octopus shirt every day?

I didn’t make a shirt for myself because I wanted to use ink colors that weren’t available at the demo. I printed shirts for my parents at the demo, though. My dad has one in blue on a white background to evoke the Dodgers, which is his favorite baseball team. My mom has one in green.

Now that you have the octopus silkscreen as a prize, are you going to print more?

Yes! I’ll be buying inks to print the shirts I didn’t get a chance to make for myself, then one for my brother. Maybe I’ll get around to making some greeting cards too. Thank you to coLAb for the unexpected prize! I’m grateful to have been able to share some work alongside some very talented people. It was a neat show.

More of Elise’s artwork and design can be seen on her Coroflot page.

A conversation with the L.A. HandPrints creators

The LA HandPrints Team and our Fearless Leader: Kat Bouza, Cara Rifkin, Sasha Anawalt, Harry Vaughn, Erin Leiker, Elisa Hough

1) What was the experience of seeing the prints online first, and then live in the Home Room Gallery? 

Kat: To put it simply, it was wonderful! So many of the submitted pieces I was drawn to online were engaging and beautiful (not to mention larger!) once I saw them installed in the gallery.

Elisa: I had been communicating with the artists for weeks via email, and to finally meet them in person and have their works in my hands was gratifying, a successful digital/physical transaction from online to real life. I was a bit nervous about the wide array of art we were going to display (variety of media, dimensions, expertise, some framed, most unframed), but when they finally went up on the walls the show became cohesive in my eyes.

Erin: There’s a sense of awe that comes with seeing something in person that you’ve come to know via digital means first. These prints had a sort of celebrity to them: I was seeing the physical form of the artwork I was so familiar with from the website!

Cara: After having seen digital copies of the L.A. HandPrints art, I was ecstatic to see the prints in the flesh.  They were so vibrant, so detailed, and so BIG!

Harry: It was pretty surreal and satisfying to see that, yes, these lovely prints submitted online have made their way into a real-world gallery. Say all the nice things you want about the internet, but there is nothing more tangible then admiring prints in person. Of course, none of this could have happened without the online factor, which is probably the coolest part about our whole endeavor.

2) What was your favorite part of the L.A. HandPrints events? 

Kat: The fact we, as graduate students with little to no connections to the Los Angeles visual arts community, were able to generate interest and buzz for our events was great enough for me. I was so thrilled to see such a diverse group of attendees at both the opening and the screenprinting workshop.

Elisa: I had a moment while Bad Braids was playing at the opening reception, seeing a group of attentive listeners watching the band and a group of meandering spectators viewing the artwork, when I realized: Wow, this really all came together! People seemed to be having fun, the band sounded great, the cupcakes were ridiculous. I was pretty proud of myself and my team and everyone who participated.

Erin: Watching visitors lift the screens and get excited about their new, hand-screened shirt was a blast. Each and every time those screens went up, someone shouted “oh, awesome!”

Cara: I loved watching Elise and Obi, our T-shirt design contest winners, as their prints became t-shirts at our workshop.  The fact that people are now wearing their designs around Los Angeles is so rewarding.

Harry: My favorite aspect was watching my teammates tackle the process of printing (some of us for the first time!) with other guests who similarly hadn’t a clue as to how it’s done. The event was a learning experience for all of us, just like this website, so I think it reflected nicely on what our goals have been throughout this process.

3) What did you learn from L.A. HandPrints? 

Kat: If you plan it, they will come!

Elisa: While I’ve hosted dozens of live music events, this was the most I’ve been involved in hosting an art show, so I learned some of the technical and aesthetic details that go into arranging and hanging artwork. I also have a greater understanding about how the boundaries between artist and audience, creator and spectator can – and should – be blurred.

Erin: The leap from digital to physical carries a lot more weight and meaning than I was expecting. There were interactions and outcomes that I hadn’t expected, and some that I did expect came about in a totally different way. You can think you know how something will work, but the old fashioned method of experimenting is still the only way to truly know.

Cara: I learned that Los Angeles has a rich history in printmaking, and that L.A. HandPrints has the potential to carry on the tradition of this lively community.

Harry: I learned that people want to connect way more than I anticipated. There were never any scoffing or eye-rolling from artists when we presented them with our idea to showcase their work. The opposite actually, everyone seemed incredibly game and enthusiastic. I’ve learned that putting your ideas online can really give you excellent results.

What are your answers to these questions? Join the conversation and leave a comment.

HandPrints screenprinting workshop video and demo

Selected by 250 + people on our site, “Octopus” by Elise Kane and “downtown from los angeles street” by Obi-Ike Nwoke became the central designs for dozens of shirts made at our L.A. HandPrints screenprinting workshop on April 11.

Like what you see? Submit your designs and maybe we’ll have another contest in the future!

screenprinting workshop