noticed as a print artist can be a challenge around SLC, especially
with so few shops catered specificity to the art form being open.
The majority of those in the field usually start up their own
workshop and create in private for clients and exhibitions, with very
little in circulation for display and purchase, making most
everything they create a must-have due to short supply. Not many have
been able to transition themselves to a marketable field where
recreations have come into high demand. And the few who do find themselves facing the
new challenge of meeting the demand.
--- Andy Chase got her start right out of Weber interning for Leia Bell, just prior to the opening of Signed & Numbered, where she not only became a familiar face behind the desk but a regular name on the walls and the display racks. Essentially finding an artistic home at the start of the shop's opening boom and newfound exposure with some of Utah's finest print artists. Since then she's gone on to create some of the most recognizable prints in the scene today, not to mention being the official artist for several concerts and events, all while continuing her own efforts to support local art and sell her works. I got a chance to chat with Andy about her career so far as well as thoughts on the art and craft scenes.
Gavin: Hey Andy, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Andy: Well, where shall I begin? I guess I was born and raised in Utah, kind of around the Ogden area. I graduated from Weber State University with a BFA. I started working for the lovely Leia Bell as an intern about four years ago helping her print, clean screens, make magnets, etc. I currently live in Salt Lake City. I usually make art in my spare time, but I also love anything outdoors, Johnny Cash, Ed Abbey, plants, the desert, star gazing, vegetables, most animals, and the demolition derby.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?
Andy: I have always just enjoyed making art. I remember coloring and drawing for hours when I was a kid. I have always felt the need to create, I suppose. It wasn't until high school that I really started developing a style and learning about different artists. Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol always stand out in my mind when I think about early inspiration.
Gavin: What made you choose Weber and what was their program like for you?
Andy: Weber State has a great art program. The facility is nice, and I was able to get tons of one on one attention, and it was financially the best option for me, not to mention close to home.
Gavin: During that time how did screen-printing catch your eye, and what made you want to explore that form as well as painting?
Andy: I actually started silk screening and painting in High School. I picked up an Andy Warhol book after becoming obsessed over the band, The Dandy Warhols. I went to my painting teacher one day and asked her if she knew anything about screen printing. It turned out that she had a few screens laying around, but she didn't know much about it, and nobody had attempted it in years. So, I did some experimenting and ended up making a really ghetto Thom Yorke print using crayola acrylic paint, or something like that, ha ha. I then tried screen printing again at Weber State, and I just got into it more and more...and the rest is history!
Gavin: How did you first meet Leia Bell, and how did you eventually come to work for her at Signed & Numbered?
Andy: I guess it all started out when I started going to shows at Kilby Court. I picked up a flyer one day that was sitting at the counter of Kilby. I couldn't believe that someone was jut giving out a stack of hand printed flyers for the band, Le Force (The Force at the time). I looked at the signature and saw Leia B. It was signed and numbered, and I was way into the style of it. After that I would hear her name around everywhere, and then a few years later I got the courage to ask her if she would be interested in me doing an internship with her. I was able to get school credit by the internship, and she was able to get free help. I loved every minute of the time I spent working for her. A few months later, Leia told me that she and her man (Phil Sherburne) were going to open up a poster store downtown, and I could work there if I was interested. I said, "oh yeah!" And I have worked for them ever since.
Gavin: What was your time like at the shop, and what did you think of its early run underneath Slowtrain?
Andy: I really enjoy working at Signed & Numbered. It's really awesome handling the poster collection there, I enjoy learning about the artists making work (locally and nationally), and it's always really exciting seeing new work coming into the store. I think the store was successful in a different way when it was under Slowtrain. I miss Gallery Stroll and there was more of an interest in the posters and the poster artists. At the new space I mainly just focus on frames, which is still cool and a different way that I get to be creative.
Gavin: You participated in a number of shows, both at S&N and around the city. How was it for you getting your work out and being exhibited along with local and national artists?
Andy: It feels good. It is always a really positive feeling to see my creativity interacting with other artists creativity. I love being in group shows because you get to see the different responses to the themes. Then it's a cool feeling knowing that I get to be in a show with some of my favorite artists.
Gavin: Not a lot of people take on screen-printing anymore. What made you decide to go the tradition route for it instead of going digital?
Andy: For me, I definitely don't get the same satisfaction with digital. I need to be involved. I need to be a part of my work and bringing it to life using my hands. I need to get ink all over my hands, and be in total control from the beginning until the end. Plus, I can't stand sitting at a computer for very long, ha ha.
Gavin: Does it ever feel like it's a lost art or do you believe there's still a strong audience for it?
Andy: I think right now people are really diggin' the silk screening. I think a lot of people are finding out about it, and also gig poster artists. I find more and more people getting into silk screening. So, maybe not a lost art quite yet.
Gavin: What's the process that goes into creating a new piece for you, from the designs you choose to final product?
Andy: Most of my work starts out with a Sumi Ink drawing of anything from campers to birds wearing boots. If I like it enough I will usually try to push it further into a print or a painting. Everything I do is by hand, which makes for a long, but exciting art adventure.
Gavin: Considering the various works you've made, do you prefer painting or printing, and why?
Andy: I have to say that there is something a little more relaxing and rewarding for me when it comes to painting. I get to paint and just be in my own little world. Printing is a little more challenging for me. It requires a lot more thinking for me and maybe a little more pressure to get it right. I usually have a beverage and blast my favorite music while printing, the three together is really a magical combination.
Gavin: Last year your prints became a staple of S&N, not to mention being featured at gigs like the Beer Fest. What's your take on finding an audience and growing in our art scene?
Andy: I guess just standing out has been important for me. I try to paint and draw things that most people probably would not. If it's something that I'm interested in, but not so unique I try to go about creating it in a different way.
Gavin: While we're on the the topic, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Andy: I think there is a lot of talented local artists making great work. I think a lot of people get stuck on the same five to ten artists. These five to ten artists are certainly well known for a reason, obviously because their work is amazing, but I think there is also a lot of other talented artists locally that deserve a chance in the scenes spotlight. Overall, I think the art scene has come a long way for the better.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Andy: I'm not sure, maybe just more community support for art. Seeing more of the value in art and why it's important.
Gavin: What do you think of Gallery Stroll as a whole and how its doing today?
Andy: There is always something great going on at stroll time, it's just a matter of picking which event you want to go to. I always feel like I can't make it to everything on Stroll night. Longer hours would be ideal for me. Copper Palate is really good at making a late night extravaganza! The summer months are always way more fun with a lot more people, I guess the warmth makes strolling a lot more tolerable.
Gavin: What's your take on the rise of the craft movement in Utah and the works coming out of it?
Andy: Great crafters making pretty cool stuff. I'm pretty sure Craft Lake City has really contributed to this, and it seems like it's going to get bigger every year.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of this year?
Andy: I'm just going to keep on truckin' and making work like crazy!
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Andy: Yeah, you can check out some of my work at my Esty store. Also, I will have a piece of work up at Blonde Grizzly (awesome, awesome gallery) for a group show in May with the Salt Lake City Film Fest. I will also have a booth at the Beehive Bazaar in Provo. Then, hopefully, Craft Lake City in August, which is also very awesome. You can find me and my art at Signed & Numbered (2105 East 2100 South) as well as The Hive Gallery in Trolley Square. Also, a big thanks to you, Gavin. A true gallery stroller and supporter of the arts!
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