We're following up our review of Christine Schmidt's book Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques + Truly Original Projects with an an interview. Schmidt is the founder and owner of Yellow Owl Workshop, a San Francisco based company which offers greeting cards, stamps kits, stencil kits, and many other fun products both ready-to-go and for DIY purposes. She is the author of two books on print-making and has another book coming up, and has inspired many to go for it and make their own prints. Her delightful products can be found on the Yellow Owl Workshop website and in stores worldwide. Read on to learn about her background and what inspires her work.
My mom is an art teacher. She taught my sisters and me to work with all sorts of media. She showed us that the process is the joy and not to worry about the final result. I took my first printmaking class at the Kansas City Art Institute when I was in high school. I later went to the Corcoran School of Art and Design to study fine art.
What was your mission in creating Yellow Owl Workshop?
Both with my books and my goods, my mission is to put creative options in the hands of others. I get a kick when people that don't normally make prints or have the confidence to just play with techniques write me to tell me how much they enjoyed my products to create pieces of their own.
Can you describe how you’ve built your business, and how it has grown over the years?
I have grown this business organically and it grows as my interests change. For instance, I just introduced a line of Stencil Kits because I was into playing with larger scale and playing with mark making.
What inspires your art?
Earlier today, I was looking at Rousseau paintings and considering the palette and tonal changes. Right now I am working on projects for my upcoming book and was taking the contrast of simple cut-out shapes against the grid pattern of my cutting mat. The inspiration changes so often I'm often unaware of where it is coming from. For my line I always strive for something original and useful.
Do you have favorite artists and designers, past and present?
I am currently looking at Vera Neumann, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Klee, Gauguin, Rousseau, and George Catlin.
Please describe your studio. What do you love about it the most?
I had a 4 x 8 foot table made for my studio and I love it. I am often working on many things at once, so it allows me room to keep several projects going at the same time. I had my daughter a few years ago, so I often find myself working at my kitchen table and I think that is the best spot for me.
Do you have a dream project?
I think my most primal love is ceramics. Something about digging hands into cold clay and shaping it almost without thought is thrilling to me. Forming and scraping and painting and drawing into clay is an awesome heaven. If I had a bunch of dollars and free time I would be doing that.