Note: This is the second of two posts - here's the link to Part I
10. What are some of the challenges you have faced and how have you handled them?
Printmaking always carries technical challenges, and I continue to improve my skills and experiment with new materials and techniques. There's no substitute for experience. In all of the arts, we face the challenge of not becoming discouraged, and the risk of "failure," whatever that means to each of us. We need to continually push ourselves in new directions, and not get stuck in repetition. I'm happiest when I am learning new things and pushing myself, so I try to remember that. I'm over 60 now so I've been at this a pretty long time, and hope to be a creative person until my last breath!
11. Which age group do you find your work appeals to most?
I have no idea! It seems to be a broad range.
12. Apart from selling your art online, do you market your work in galleries?
Not anymore. The art world has changed a lot. I haven't been associated with a gallery for more than twelve years; I started a blog around that time and began selling online and to personal friends instead. It's more work to do it this way, but I don't have to pay commissions, and I don't mind because I've always had a business and like those aspects of the work. Many artists just want to do the creative work and are intimidated or inexperienced with sales, finances, and marketing, or even think it's beneath them. I think that's too bad. If you can do it yourself, there are a lot of advantages.
13. What advice do you have for an aspiring printmaker?
On the art side, my primary advice is to draw every day. Keep a sketchbook and just spend some time each day working in it, drawing ordinary objects, people and scenes from your life. It's like a journal to a writer - an indispensable aid to the eye and hand and the best possible practice. Look at a lot of work and try to understand why certain art appeals to you. Study it. Join printmaking groups on Facebook or other social networks - there are some very good ones where members not only share their work but discuss techniques and all other aspects of art and business.
Making prints and improving your technique is of course very important, but it is through drawing and studying good work of others that you'll begin to learn what makes an excellent print. Study composition and design in particular. Printmaking relies on our ability to use positive/negative space. Drawing in ink, with a large brush, or large pieces of charcoal or graphite, can help us learn how to create a dynamic composition with a good balance of positive and negative, but when you get too tight with small pointed drawing tools, it's hard to see that. So work large sometimes, turn the work sideways and upside down, learn to see it abstractly.
Show your work to others and get comfortable with criticism from people whose opinion you respect. You don't have to take it all to heart; the point is to get to where you can listen objectively to constructive criticism and learn from it, but not be discouraged or thrown off-course, because you gradually become more and more clear about your own work and its direction. Each piece you do is part of the learning process; don't look on it as either a failure or a final achievement, but as stepping-stone to the next piece, the next step on your path.
On the practical side, get comfortable with the business of art. You will need computer skills and a good sense of business in order to be successful, and it's best to accept that this is part of the package and learn to do it early in your career. Most of us will have to supplement our art income with teaching, design, or another job entirely. That's fine, but never lose sight of what your real passion is an make time for it, and you'll be a happier person throughout your life.
Work hard, enjoy it, and good luck!