Most of the printmakers I’ve met have a wicked sense of humor. Perhaps it is their night owl lifestyle or backbreaking process in which the artists are hunched over for hours at a time. Slightly dark and self-deprecating, they kill two birds with one stone: In creating something tangible they release any emotional toxins that accumulate throughout the day.

Printmaker Kelsey Taylor, of Little Press on the Prairie, ingrains universal frustrations into her artwork. In her “hobbit hole,” the self-proclaimed hermit unleashes the demons. Through purposeful aggression she creates.

This cathartic, kinetic process has helped the 24-year old make sense of it all as she works towards finding her way in the art world. While she recoils from anything shiny and new, social media has helped her talk more coherently about the art. She strives to translate her existence into a common denominator.

Kelsey Taylor Blog Photo 2

 What’s your dream life as far as your career is concerned?

My optimal life would be to find a niche where all my weird quirks and skills can be used at their highest form. I don’t know how or where that will be but I want to work somewhere where no one else can do what I can do. My dream job would definitely be in production building dinosaurs and painting aliens for movie sets.

Do you find it challenging to talk about your artwork?

Social media has been my training wheels. By posting an image and explanatory sentence I can show the world what I am up to without putting myself on parade. Whether it’s Instagram or Facebook, we create these perceived identities to filter what actually occurs in our lives. I find it fascinating.

Kelsey Taylor Blog Photo 4

It’s an art form in and of itself. On another note, one of my favorite documentaries is “Beauty is Embarrassing” starring artist Wayne White. He reminds me of you: someone who has the ability to have humor be taken seriously.

What a great compliment! I love Wayne White and one of my triumphs is that he follows me on Instagram.

How did you become interested in printmaking?

I took my first printmaking class my sophomore year at Belmont University. My granddaddy introduced me to relief carving. He practiced scrimshaw, which is the art of carving on bones. Also as a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist so digging, in the dirt or on a plate, came naturally to me.

Did you always know that you wanted to pursue art as a career?

Yes, however it’s hard at times to stomach what it takes to build a stable business. While my art form isn’t pragmatically driven I chose it for love.

Kelsey taylor blog photo 6

Do you think it’s possible to pursue art in a 9-5 job world? I never had the energy reserve to muster it. 

No. I myself am trying to find the balance between paying my rent and pursuing art. Maybe I’ll just keep watching “Beauty is Embarrassing” and figure out Wayne White’s secret.

Isn’t his whole philosophy “fuck you world?” How do you decide what themes to pursue in order to create a cohesive collection?

My tarot card collection is a great example. I love reading them and they’re one of the many things that I collect all around me. A one-year anniversary art show came up at East Nashville bar, the Crying Wolf. For it I made a hand tinted “death” card with a wolf skeleton. Whenever there is space in my life I go after a new series. Positive feedback and my own drive are what keeps the process going.

Which tarot cards do you routinely pull for yourself?

Death, moon and the hermit: wisdom by isolation, finding a balance between dark and light, and being reminded of our own mortality.

Kelsey Taylor Blog Photo 3

Now let’s discuss your hilarious insult cards.  

Sayings like, “what a dingus,” or “what the fuck did you think would happen?” came from years of retail jobs. I felt compelled to carve my irritations into a block and fortunately, other people relate to them as well.

Like a true artist you really milk every experience. What is it about printmaking that is so appealing? 

Carving is destructive expressionism. You take this smooth sheet of linoleum and dig out hunks of it, which is similar to pulling wallpaper or popping bubble wrap. You’re making something beautiful instead of wasting energy. When I focus my hostility it feels fantastic.

Most of my favorite pieces also came from tremendous pain.

Wasting energy is crass. We can only expend a certain amount in a day so why would you misuse that? I know how to keep my emotions in check until I can get them out later. That keeps me ground and affects how I conduct myself— at least in public. {Laughs}

Kelsey Taylor Blog Photo 5

Click here to view more of Kelsey Taylor’s work.

Follow her adventures on Instagram @littlepressontheprairie

Photos: Heather LeRoy

Words and Interview: Lily Clayton Hansen

 

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