Artist of the Month July 2017: Nikki Barber

Nikki Barber

I am pleased to introduce you to Nikki Barber, a professional artist and printmaker from Seattle, Washington. Her story is quite interesting, and scientific approach unique. Below, you can read her full interview. You can also see her portfolio and shop her art on her website, nikkibarber.com.

Nikki, can you give me a statement describing your art and approach?

I find artist statements mildly interesting...at best. Instead of giving you the adjective-fluffed usual, here’s a short story:

I used to work as a research therapist for children with autism. The kids were great; the work schedule and commutes were soul-draining. I reached a point of breaking and decided to quit and visit the places I always told myself I would go and do the thing I always told myself I would do. You see, I have two degrees- one in the awesome world of biological sciences and the other in the equally awesome world of printmaking. I decided to side-step my linear track bound for a job that actually has benefits and call myself an artist. Thus, here I am showing off my prints to you from the places and spaces I find important since quitting a huge chapter of my life. 

Mae Jong, Thailand  | Woodcut and Monotype | Paper: 10”X11” | Images: 5 ¾” x 8” | 2017

How did you get started with Printmaking?

I attended the University of Washington and as a freshman; and hoping to major in painting and drawing. During my second quarter, the studio painting class I needed to take was full, so I signed up for a beginning woodblock printmaking class (whatever that was). The first day of class, I was absolutely mesmerized! Peeling off the first print I ever made was the best feeling and so satisfying. I have been printmaking ever since. There's something about never quite knowing how a final print will turn out that has me hooked.

What is your preferred medium and subject matter?

Blends of Woodcut, Monotype, Drypoint, and Etching

Can you tell me a bit about the pieces you've shared with us today?

I recently completed an artist residency in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There, I was able to take a large number of sketches I had generated from traveling around the area beforehand and turn them into large-scale prints. These are some of the prints I was able to make. In my work, I blend soft painterly monotype backgrounds with crisp and sharp woodblock foregrounds.

Hoi An, Vietnam | Woodcut and Monotype, Fabriano Paper 220gms | Image Size: 70cmx100cm (27.55’’x39.3’’) | 2017

Srilanna, Thailand | Woodcut and Monotype, Fabriano Paper 220gms | Image Size: 50cm x 70cm (19.68’’x 27.55’’) | 2017

Hoi An, Vietnam II | Woodcut and Monotype, Fabriano Paper 220 gms | Image Size: 50cm x 70cm (19.68’’x 27.55’’) | 2017

What is the thing that you love most about Printmaking?

Two things- I love inking a woodcut for the first time and peeling off a print for the first time. So satisfying and very addictive!

What is the thing that you struggle with most in your Printmaking?

I can be a perfectionist in my work. I combine various printmaking techniques in my work, so finding the right color combinations or placing light in just the right areas can become stages for obsessing. Knowing when to stop and leave a print alone can be challenging for me.

Is printmaking/art what you do full-time?

Mostly. I still have my security blanket of supplemental income from teaching classes, workshops, and catering weddings. I'm still navigating the sustainability of being an artist. It's scary and I sometimes find myself second guessing. However, even through the stress, I find myself happy to be working towards something I find intensely fulfilling.

Don Kong, Laos | Woodcut and Monotype | Paper Size: 11”x15” | Image: 4 1/2x 10” | 2017

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

I heard a quote recently that said something to the effect of poetry being a branch of science. I like this because I see my approach to printmaking being very similar. The first step in the scientific method is to first observe. I would argue most artists do this. Next comes research, developing a hypothesis, collecting data, then experimentation. It seems a very systematic way to approach art, but I find it to be very useful.

How can people find you online?

Website: nikkibarber.com

Instagram: @NikkiBarberArt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/NikkiBarberArt/

Wrapping Up:

Thank you SO MUCH to Nikki for taking the time to interview with us! Your story is so interesting, and I love that you integrate a scientific approach to your artwork. It seems very much to be a piece of who you are, and I think that it is important for artists to communicate their ideas by integrating their true selves into their artwork.

Thanks to our readers as well, who have read this far! Please leave a comment with your thoughts and get a discussion going! This is a wonderful opportunity to bring some minds together!

If you're interested in being a featured artist, contact me at JustPrintmaking@gmail.com

I feature a new artist every month through an interview process similar to this.

Slow Boat on Mekong River, Laos | Woodcut and Monotype | Paper: 14 ¼” x 27 ¼” | 2017