Mindy Schumacher is a self-taught print artist from Rockford, Ill. The hand block prints she carves are used to create beautiful, unique items, including pillows, stockings, wall hangings, table linens, utility bags, original art prints and more. An Etsy “bestseller,” Mindy has made printmaking her full-time career. Her “Berry Blush Tweed” bunnies were recently included in Midwest Living Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide. She also co-hosts Printer Solstice, an annual, prompt-based printmaking campaign.
We wanted to know a little more about Mindy, how she got started in printmaking, what her creative process is like and what type advice she can offer to new artists just getting started in this medium.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you first became interested in art.
The truth is I’ve never taken a formal art class in my life. Despite that, I am surrounded by artists in my family and I’ve always been a creative dabbler. During college my roommate was an art major and we spent a good deal of time in the print studio where I learned reduction linocut. The real catalyst came once I became a mother and decided to cobble together a few of my many varied interests into a way to carve out a unique business, and to not go back to office life. I began teaching piano lessons from my home and focusing on the textile printing processes I had developed. The interest was always there, the vision, but focus made the difference. It became my life and livelihood, simply put. Best life decision I’ve made.
How did you get started in printmaking specifically and what do you like most about it?
Through the opportunities I have to teach printmaking, I often try to articulate ‘why printmaking’ is for me. There is something about its timelessness, how old it is and how the methods of making multiples sprung up from so many sources, historically. It just belongs to all of us. I love the physical nature and slowness of carving and the repetition of textile printing. Once I get caught up in a project, I love the feeling of being lost in what I’m doing right in the moment, the very intentional aspect. Muscle memory and something primitive takes over and quiets my mind and that does me well. I find these aspects meditative and I realize that each of us finds patience in our own unique ways. This is mine and I’m grateful to have found it.
What is the most rewarding part of creating? What is the most challenging?
We are creators by nature, I think sharing our creativity with others is both rewarding and challenging, there is that duality to it. I am at my best an encourager but I also know the weight of words and am sensitive to how they’re used. Sharing my work was a tremendous step of bravery that has returned full with a lot more encouragement than the other. Taking that leap led me to believe that what we bring forward to be shared can be multiplied and made greater.
What’s your creative process like?
A lot of my design work has evolved, I’m now working digitally to sketch with an iPad and Procreate. I definitely think mechanically, which is why I love block printing itself, but I’m finding that an idea can develop differently with different processes. I’m enjoying it, it’s been exciting for me to go a new way and overcome what was intimidating at first.
Are there any other art mediums you enjoy?
Brush and ink painting captured my interest in college. I would grind my ink and loved the beauty of the brushes, but nothing very great came of it. I’m still imagining a way to combine that with linocut in some fashion, I definitely see how cross-pollinating interests gives us a unique voice.
What’s something you’ve created that you’re most proud of? Why?
The canvas utility bags I create really grew legs this year. I love to make them, and I am proud of how they’re constructed and enjoyed making them specifically for carving tools. A lot of care goes in and I felt truly connected to the other printmakers who would use them and find some daily joy in their utility.
If you could offer some words of wisdom to a new artist, what would it be?
How many times are you willing to get it wrong? It’s something I ask my music students, and is an aspect of education which fascinates me. There is a necessary amount of suffering in life and any undertaking. How much can you endure and even embrace? Pay attention to the allergies you develop along the way, when something unsettles you, and pay closer attention to what is revealing to you. I am self taught and have plenty to keep me a humble cobbler. Humility is the most wisdom I can share. I find few things as off-putting as a massive ego, an allergic reaction great enough to affirm the value of humility. Ego and mastery are not what success and being an artist is about, it isn’t a competition.
Which Flexcut tools do you own and what do you like most about each?
The micro palm set has been my primary tool set. My hands are small and these have a comfortable and safe hold, without creating tension in my wrist or shoulder. Especially with my botanical linocuts, the fine lines are unmatched! I recommend them frequently because the quality for the price is outstanding and they’re really easy to maintain a razor sharp edge. Now that I have the premium Micro palm set, it just adds to that feeling of quality and I’m quite attached to them already.