© 2017 margins

Alex Hood      

So tell me a little about yourself?

 

I grew up in a small city in the great country of Canada. Though a true Canadian at heart, I have found my way to the wonderful city of Buffalo, NY, where art and culture continue to thrive. Not long ago, I found my passion and love for the book arts. All it took was a few classes and I’ve been moving with it ever since. I have come to realize that all I’ve ever wanted to do was create in a way that allows people to experience art in every day life. Printmaking and bookmaking has allowed me to do so. I want to make things that are practical and functional in its purpose. I want people to know that art is universal and comes in so many forms, even when it’s something as simple as a handmade card or bound journal. The book arts allows me to achieve those ideas.

I have had the pleasure of knowing and collaborating with Alex Hood since undergrad. From art classes to our college's in-house design team, we've been able to work together on some really creative projects. As our lives lead us to reside in different places, I continue to admire Alex's creativity and style. As a lover of the object, Alex's work speaks to the the human creativity that can only be found in that special relationship of holding the piece of art in your hand. Her work and dedication to craft made her an important part of the margins project.

How has your creative process changed over time?

I am quite new to the game and I truly feel as though I am still in the process of starting. I am continually learning new things and growth is always happening. My focus has been to concentrate my efforts on some of the key elements that I believe best represent myself as an artist and businesswoman. For me, this was a set of greeting cards and a few book styles. Through this simple foundation, I was able to work small craft fairs. Since then, I have been able to incorporated other creative ventures — custom invitations, textiles, and handmade paper — into my business.

 

I have always strived for a goal aesthetic. Visuals have always been the driving factor behind what I do. My creative process changes as I continue to learn. One can only go so far with talent alone. It’s through hard work and consistency that we move forward. I have had a longstanding education in design which has taught me to always look at composition. How does the content fit on the page, is there harmony throughout all elements, or is there a clear message portrayed.

 

Since graduating from college, a lot has changed in how I create. Gone are the assignments and projects, constant close community and most important, access to a full studio. I have had to make due with a small space of my apartment and the reality that I can’t afford to have topnotch tools at my disposal. Creativity is necessary when accomplishing tasks that typically require certain tools or processes. I’m guilty of having several stacks of coffee table books around the apartment, each housing a different project in need of pressing.

“I want people to know that art is universal and comes in so many forms, even when it’s something as simple as a handmade card or bound journal.”

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

Definitely to take things one step at a time. If there’s one thing I struggle with, it’s being so overwhelmed by the overall task at hand that it prevents me from moving forward. No matter how great or small the accomplishment, it’s one step closer to your goal. I’ve learned that it’s important to focus on your motivations. Why do you create? When you understand this about your work, you can move past tasks that don’t meet those ideas and concentrate on those that push you forward.

 

Who are some artists that you feel have impacted your own practice?

My practice has first and foremost been impacted by my college professors. Without their guidance, I would not have found my passion for creating, or even studied art at all. Because of their influence, I have found my niche in print and bookmaking. They encouraged me to constantly explore and push my boundaries, knowing that only then would I would find direction.

 

I love illustrators and printers like Emily McDowell and Ladyfingers Letterpress simply because they found a style of work that is so truly theirs - like Jackson Pollock’s action painting or Mark Rothko’s colour field. They found something that no one had done before and had the drive to fulfill the need they saw. These people inspire me to use my passion for a bigger purpose.

 

You can call me cliche, but I love figures like Beyonce and Lady Gaga. These women are incredible individuals for defining themselves despite societal expectations. They use their influence to push boundaries and become activists, giving a voice to those who have no such platform. And they achieve this while practicing humility. They are an inspiration to me because they represent true artistry allowing their art to become who they are.

july 2017
entrepreneur
designer
printmaker
bookmaker
AlexHoodPaperCo

How do you feel your experience as a women has affected your process and work?

In general, my experience as a businesswoman has been largely reflective of my personal aesthetic: detail oriented, well thought out, and consistent. In my opinion my work doesn't necessarily depend on my womanhood but it is unapologetically my style. Due to the sense of support from a community of female business owners, I don't feel the need to appeal to an audience outside of those that respect my artistic process. I have yet to face many of the negative effects often experienced by females in the industry, however, I can speak to the gratitude I feel being in an environment of women. After several years as a practicing artist, I understand the importance of welcoming the friendship of powerful and accomplished women. Instead of being intimidated by their success, I am driven to improve myself.

What have been some of your biggest strengths and struggles during your career so far?

The biggest struggle that I’ve had for a long time has been valuing my work. If it were up to me, I would give everything away for free just because I’m so happy when people truly enjoy my art and the effort I invest. Unfortunately, that is not extremely sustainable. I sometimes wonder if my art would be accessible if I lowered my prices. But the reality is that these things are handcrafted and take time and my product won’t be valued by other people if I don’t value it myself.

 

For as long as I can remember, my acute attention to detail has always been a part of my creative process. There are details in every element of making and I aim to achieve excellent quality every step of the way. This way of thinking has forced me to dive deep into techniques and methods. A lot of my learning has been self taught and it gives me a different view and approach to the medium.

 

What project are you especially excited about right now?

I’ve always loved textiles and find my aesthetic to be suited to that. While the prospect of dyeing 150 napkins for a wedding reception seems daunting, I couldn’t be more excited. It gives me the opportunity to work with my hands in a different way. The dyeing process encourages a new exploration of pattern, design, and technique. I’m looking forward to new perspective it might give me as I work in other media.

What's in your margins?

I view the world through a lens of searching for inspiration. I think stationery is moving in the direction of quick wit and honest humour. Card design has both a visual and text element so I am able to find inspiration in what I see and hear.  I draw ideas from the plants I keep in my house, the shows I watch, and the conversations I have with people.

 

I make a point to be aware of my craft as a whole. It’s so important to stand out as a creator and part of that is making original work. I’m actively engaged in many social media platforms that showcase artists’ work. This has set me apart from others and allowed me to remain confident in the work that I do.

Edited by Joshua Duttweiler