This week on Meet the Printmaker, we meet Kiara from Kimacoprints. Kiara creates incredibly vibrant prints that reflect her Filipina heritage and she's quite literally carving her own brilliant path in the printmaking world (and she introduced me to a new artist in Pacita Abad!).
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create...
Hey I'm Kiara, I'm a multi-disciplinary artist, occasional printmaker behind kimacoprints! I create linocut relief prints that reflect my Filipina heritage mostly, reflect my love of hands, but also more broadly my prints are inner monologues and thought processes translated onto a block of lino.
How long have you been a printmaker? Is it a full-time career for you or a lovely hobby? If you are a full-time printmaker, what does a typical day for you look like?
I started linoprinting as a non-serious candidate in September 2020 out of sheer curiosity but I didn't practice it seriously until February when I really started to feel confident about the quality of my work. I decided to invest in good tools and materials to make it a permanent hobby/part-time small business pursuit.
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
The catalyst was the fact that I studied Fine Art at uni but my creative practice after graduation hit a wall. I wanted to create something more physical and tactile, where my fingers weren't glued to the keyboard, eyes away from screen. So I turned to printmaking, lino specifically because I was familiar with the technique, relatively affordable to begin with and I could do it at home. The feeling of hand to tool, tool to lino, it's addictive, such a great feeling! The sheer tactility of from start to finish is a thrill for me.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
Hands, large bodies of water, women, language in all its iterations ie. through hands and gestures, History and heritage, culture, identity, these are deeply rooted within my work. All my creative pursuits are driven by decolonial thought and practice making it my biggest and most important influence, not just in creative practice but personal growth too. The next biggest influence would definitely be the printmaking community on Instagram to be honest, I've learned and continue to learn so much from the community and have such fulfilling conversations with everyone how can I not get inspired.
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
Don't let gatekeepers tell you there's a right and wrong way of doing things. Trust your process and experiment! Make work that truly resonates with what you believe in, not just what you think other people would like.
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
My prints say - I'm a proud Filipina! Proud Asian! These are things that matter to me! I want people to fall in love, appreciate, discover something outside of what they already know.
Are your prints influenced by external events (social, political) or do you prefer your work to remain neutral?
My work is imbued with the politics of my identity as a woman of colour artist so they are by nature political but in an invitation-to-decolonial-discourse kind of way. I would eventually like to use printmaking as an avenue for activism and make work that responds to current socio-political events.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
Carving the lino block is an absolute joy. I love that the carving process forces me to slow down and think about each mark that I'm making carefully. I'm trying to live slow so it's nice to practice slow forms of art. And I love that there's so many different textures you can make with one tool. Honestly the different sized gouges I've accumulated makes me happy.
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
Home is where the wooden spoon and mini press (made by my boyfriend!) is. My printmaking set up consists of a table, shelving unit, and drying line hung across my bedroom. It's enough for now as I only have capacity to make prints up to A3 but I would love to make large-scale prints in the future! Just the thought of hand burnishing an A1 print makes my eyes water.
Every day feels like a school day when you're a printmaker and failure is not talked about too much online.. what would you say is the most challenging part of printmaking?
I used to judge work I've made in comparison to other people's, especially more established printmakers like on Instagram, and man it sucked. It's so important to not get sucked into the comparative/competitive mindset but to embrace the fact that my work is brilliant in it's own way, according to my own standards and not anyone else's. Also trying to understand my failures from a different perspective is a fun reflective activity. It's fascinating how perception of one thing differs from person to person, and with time. A failure in my eyes could be an absolute treasure to someone else so don't just simmer in your failure by yourself, share it and grow from it with the community together. Also the fact that printmaking process is for the most part an individual activity, makes it feel a bit isolating sometimes, especially if you're a home printmaker, but this is why the printmaking community that you nurture and grow with is so important.
What is your next big printmaking challenge? Do you have a plan for the next 12 months or do you take each day as it comes?
I'm planning on taking each day as it comes and be grateful for the time I can spend printmaking. I'll probably try to catch up with some prompt-based challenges that I've missed like blockpartywithgina to get back into the swing of printmaking for the next couple of weeks. I've got a reduction print planned and drawn out already but who knows when that will see the light of day.
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?
What is your favourite print (of your own)?
[on ritual and play], I love the palette.
Music/podcasts when you're creating or silence?
I mostly create in silence but other times I put on the Women of Kpop playlist on Spotify.
Printing press or by hand?
If you could meet any artist (alive or dead), who would it be?
I would love to meet Pacita Abad. Incredible woman, amazing artist, reignites my fire every time.
One word to sum up your style?