May 7, 2019
Finding One’s Calling in Printmaking
Masy Chighizola is a printmaker and fairly recent graduate of Louisiana State University’s MFA program in studio arts (2017). She hit the ground running with her studio life, started her own business titled Press Relief, and sought out the market opportunities in the region. She’s a skillful draftsperson, carver, & knows her way around a letterpress. She also likes to keep her art approachable to a wide audience and connect with the community. She’s definitely someone to keep an eye on, and this week she took the time to talk to us and share her work in our Artist to Watch Blog.
Have you always been interested in visual arts?
Yes! When I was 8 years old I wrote in a school journal that my dream was to become an artist. That dream still lives on in me 20+ years later.
When did you seek formal training, and when did you start printmaking?
I started taking drawing classes with a local artist for a few years prior to high school. The pursuit to find my true path in art and give in to the idea that I could make a career out of it took some time. I started college at Nicholls State University and explored other career options but inevitably ended up in the Art Department. I talked myself into majoring in graphic design for some unknown reason, and learned very quickly that my place wasn’t behind a computer screen. I took a printmaking class and immediately felt like, this is it! This is what I’ve been searching for. The technique that really hooked me was relief printmaking. It made me realize that I needed to be hands on with what I was creating. Drawing, carving, mixing ink, and having that satisfying moment of pulling a print off of the press to see my design in a whole new light. I bought an etching press with the money I made for my senior exhibition and haven’t stopped printing since. I applied to graduate school and got accepted into LSU for a printmaking assistantship. I studied there for three years where I perfected my craft, gained teaching experience, and met so many people that helped me grow.
What have you done with your craft since grad school?
I’ve taken on the business name Press Relief and started exploring the possibilities of making my work available to a wide variety of people. I love printing carved blocks on fabric and turning them into surface pattern designs. It gives me the ability to turn my designs into wearable art and home décor by printing on shirts, bandanas, tea towels, and have even dabbled with recycling my original art into paper and fabric jewelry. There’s a lot of experimenting going on to see what my designs work best on. I like to take these projects to local art markets and see the crowd’s reaction. Additionally, I have been taking commissions and working at Blackbird Letterpress, where I recently was able to turn some of my designs into cards. As you can see, I like to keep my candle steady burning, never out.
How do you feel about the arts opportunities in the region?
I haven’t been in the Baton Rouge art scene for that long, but since I started being active outside of school in 2017, I’ve seen major growth. There are so many opportunities to get your work out there for art markets, festivals, as well as new businesses showing their support by seeking local artists to showcase their work. I do often hear the public showing interest in more art classes and having a community print shop. There is a lot of potential in this region and I’m confident that we will continue to see it blossom.
Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?
I’m working on methods of making my products more easily and readily available, so I do anticipate my work to be more accessible and on the shelves of local businesses! I’ve also recently started taking custom bouquet orders and I’m excited to see where that goes. I make every flower as a relief print then cut them out and assemble into a bouquet. It’s a fresh take on preserving special flowers and I’m having a lot of fun making them!
Where can people go to see your work in person and online?
I often have a booth set up as Press Relief with the Mid City Makers at markets and other local events. You can also find some of my original linocut prints for sale at the LeMieux Gallery in New Orleans. All of my products and more info is available online at www.pressreliefprints.com