“IN EVERY CURVE” Solo Exhibit by Natasha Teymourian

Growing up as a racially ambiguous immigrant in Northern California was rough; As a freshman in high school, I’d walk down the halls being called a variety of racial slurs while the other kids would watch for my reactions, in an attempt to label me (when even I didn’t care what I was). I soon found myself in the supermarket aisles buying the lightest shade of foundation, trying to blend in with everyone else. And when I’d visit my other home in Brazil, I’d do the complete opposite–spending hours in the sun without sunscreen to avoid being called “gringa.”

It didn’t matter where I was physically: I was always in the middle of two different places. And, at the time, I wanted to be anything but it. I didn’t want to be exotic, but that was what I was. I was exotic. And I learned that people have two very different reactions to this: they either get uncomfortable or they get excited. And I’m not sure which is worse.

“Look at me and tell me if I don’t have Brazil in every curve of my body.”

–Carmen Miranda

That’s where this collection started. Instead of hiding from my racial ambiguity, I’m on a journey to learn how to accept the third space and resist being confined to only one of my identities. “IN EVERY CURVE” was inspired by the plants and animals found in the Amazon, and samba dancers, and is nowhere near done.

What makes you different? How can you celebrate that?

What is a Linoprint?

Life would probably be easier without that in-between; that dubious grey area. But it’s a fun place to live (or maybe I’m just used to living in the third space). It is one of the most interesting parts of printmaking, though. The entire process of creating a linocut is a grey area of anticipation until the very end. In printmaking, preparation and planning marry with the uncertainty of the unfinished image.

Cutting and gauging out the surface of a smooth linoleum block creates lines and textures. The untouched areas are what create the image. After inking the carved surface, the peel away of block from paper is where that grey area shatters into stark black and white contrast. Creating a print, especially one carved from linoleum, is about exploring shapes, lines, and shadows.

Interested in learning more about linoprints or the printmaking process? Check out this post I wrote about my most frequently asked questions!

About City Heights Coffee House (now Movement WORTHY)

At the time of my two-month solo exhibit, City Heights Coffee House was a non-profit coffee shop in City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, CA. CHCH focused on hiring and celebrating at-risk youth, so I was excited to put together a show about my cultural background for a place with such a focus on diversity.

City Heights Coffee House has been acknowledged for its positive impact on the community and has transformed to focus mainly on their non-profit mission of offering workforce opportunities and relationship-based trainings for the youth of City Heights (and other young people throughout the city).

About the Artist, Natasha Teymourian

Natasha Teymourian isn’t the girl from Ipanema but she’s still Carioca. A native Brazilian, she was born in Rio de Janeiro and aims to deromanticize the exotic through storytelling.

Shop prints from “In Every Curve” now. For commission inquiries, please contact Natasha.


March Meet the Maker: Story

While I’ve tried to participate in challenges like Inktober before, I’ve never really stuck to them for more than a few days at a time.

So when I work up on March 1st to a post tagged #MarchMeetTheMaker, I was immediately intrigued: what do you mean I don’t have to create a new piece of art every day for a whole month?

The openness of these prompts by Joanne Hawker really inspire me to delve into my storytelling background and feel comfortable sharing my own story online–it can be scary to be vulnerable!

With that being said, the first prompt in the March Meet the Maker Challenge is story. Here’s my story:

I come from immigrants on both sides of my family.

My grandfather immigrated from Iran. My mother and I immigrated from Brasil to a small town outside the Bay Area in Northern California.

We had a home there in that town, but it didn’t feel like home. It felt like saudade, which kind of describes feelings of immense longing and homesickness (it’s one of those words without an exact translation).

But when we’d “go home” to Brasil, it didn’t feel like home either. To America, I was other. To Brasil, I was a “fake” Brazilian.

In the global literature classes I took in college, I learned that these feelings are common for the children of immigrants that grew up in America. It’s called the third space, and it’s a hard place to be. So much of identity is tied into culture and the third space brings on questions like: everyone has a home, where’s my home? Is home myself? Is it my own body? If so, is it okay to not like this home?

The thing that made it easier for me to navigate through this space was by having conversations with other immigrants, mostly through writing. .
In mid-2016, I went from college straight into an office job, where I lost that connection. So I poured myself into poetry and running a publication, waking up at 4am so I could work before work, then working at night, too…but then I got burnt out, and I had writer’s block.

And then I discovered printmaking. The tactility of printmaking, combined with the permission it allows me to give myself to disconnect—from the screens, from others—during the process helps me feel rooted and at ease with this home.

So, that’s my story.

What’s your story? What do you think of when you hear home?

“Community Service” Group Exhibit at Visual Shop

Do you remember the first time you posted a picture of your art to your personal social media? For me, it was about a month before participating in this group exhibit in Visual Shop’s gallery.

This was my first show ever. Yes, ever!

The Community Service art show was an awesome experience and great neighborhood event–it was during North Park Art Night, where most of the shops down 30th Street host their own art shows.

north-park-art-night-flyer

There was a bunch of different styles of art in the show, and a lot of street art (Visual Shop is known for partnering with street artists!). So there was a huge collection to look through, from spray painted street signs to warm photographs, and a few more traditional pieces.

The Community Service Group Exhibit ran from June 30 to July 15, 2018 at  Visual Shop in North Park, San Diego, CA.

Thanks to Jason for welcoming me to my first show, to everyone who came to support the show, and to the barista who bought my artwork during the show!

natasha-teymourian-with-her-linoprints

This print of Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction is one of my favorites…what movies do you wish artists made more fan art of?

The One Thing That Helped Me Get out of My Creative Block (And the 10 Other Things I Tried)

Despite the brooding and romantic spin that movies put on their main characters who soon go on to make an incredible painting or write the next New York Times bestseller, the middle of a creative block is a terrible place to be.

Sometimes, the block comes on slowly, creeping up on you like the fog from Lost. Other times, you’re in the middle of a project and the words just stop clicking. Everything sounds bad. And they look even worse. You read through your past works in the hopes of inspiring some kind of magic up out of you but instead, you feel like you’re reading a stranger’s words.

The creative block sucks.

I’ve brought up my struggle with artist burnout and creativity blocks in the past (briefly in a couple of Instagram captions), mainly in how I picked up printmaking. Four years ago, I was a writer–I’m still a writer but back then I was only a writer. Sure, I’ve always painted and drawn but “artist” felt like a label reserved for…anyone other than myself.

Anyway, I was in the middle of editing a poetry book and found myself struggling to finish. In reading each poem over and over again, it all seemed to blend into a steamy pile of shit. It was shit. And words didn’t look real anymore. And I wanted a manuscript I could be proud to pitch. I’d come home from work to my 400 square foot studio apartment in North Park, brew a new pot of coffee, and sit at my writing desk for hours, scribbling out words then rewriting them in the margins.

rainbow-artist-poet-bookshelf

I’d even rearrange my bookshelf (you can tell I didn’t have a cat yet, right?)

Then, I decided to do something different: not work on the poems.

That went wonderfully since I’m not sure what I was doing was actually working on the poems. Instead, I’d pop open a bottle of blonde ale, run the bath, and eat ice cream…in the bath. It was weird. And, in retrospect, sounds kind of sad. But it was healing.

Then one day, I went to Blick on a date. He said, “oh I knew a printmaker. That stuff is so cool.” And I bought a starter kit on the spot. If we weren’t married now, I probably wouldn’t disclose this part of the story.

After a few months of band-aids on fingers, shitty carvings, and dried out pieces of linoleum, I was able to start working on my poems again and finished the manuscript within a month. Trying a new art form really helped me work on my creativity until I was ready to return to my project.

But not everything works for everyone. I know that–I tried a lot of other methods to overcome my creative block…let’s explore those.

  1. Question everything

    Why is the sky blue? What if it wasn’t? Why does that sign even exist? What’s the story behind it?
  2. Keep a running list of ideas

    Many creatives that I’ve talked to seem to run into the same issue: they have so many ideas that they don’t want to lose, so they chase them all. Or maybe they’re too busy thinking about another idea while still working on one. Regardless of the case, keeping a notebook or a Google Doc of ideas that you can brain dump into is a great way to get everything out of your head.
  3. Focus

    There’s a reason that the Renaissance man is called “Renaissance”–he’s in the past. People today don’t need to be a master at everything. Find your niche, art style, or genre, and focus on that.
  4. Forget about the end result

    I still run into this problem from time to time, but despite what whatever algorithm says, not everything that you create has to be shared or even seen by anyone but yourself. Give yourself permission to make something ugly and remember that it doesn’t matter if you create something bad, as long as you’re still creating. 
  5. Go all-in on your worst idea

    What could be the worst idea you’ve ever had may be considered genius to others…it’s all subjective, especially when it comes to art.
  6. Study the classics

    Take a look at the classics…then try to make them better. The classics are classics for a reason: they resonate with a lot of different people. See areas where you can improve, and even discover missed opportunities within the classics that can be expanded on.
  7. Be a kid

    I’ve always thought that if I was a teacher, I’d choose to teach first grade or kindergarten and make them paint and write stories. There’s something different about the ways that kids create; They create without fear, hesitation, or judgment: they create to play and discover.
  8. Step back

    I’m not suggesting that anyone eat ice cream in the bathtub but some kind of space can give your mind enough time to sort itself out or recoup on its overuse. There’s a reason you got burned out in the first place!

    It’s totally okay to leave a project to explore at a later time…or even not at all. Rest, rejuvenate, and try something new.
  9. Welcome inspiration with open arms

    Inspiration can be fleeting–jump with it. You probably shouldn’t clock out and leave work in the middle of the day but a fresh stack of sticky notes can be helpful for scribbling down inspiring imagery that pops into your head throughout the day. This also means that hopping out of bed at 2am might even be worth it, if the muse is calling.
  10. Keep track of your goals

    Goals can change over time. So, consistently check in with yourself: what do you want? Where do you want to be? Does what you’re doing align with where you want to be?

    Re-set your goals once or twice a year, or whenever you start to question if you’re doing the right thing, to give yourself clarity.

Have you ever been in a creative block? What’d you do to get out of it?

“Perfect 10” Group Exhibit at La Bodega Gallery

One of the best things about themed shows is that they always spur inspiration. It can be pretty easy to get stuck in a creative block or feel uninspired when working on large collections of work…but with that being said, it can also be hard to create a piece in a theme that you’re not really too familiar with.

So, when La Bodega Gallery started welcoming artist applications for their Perfect 10 group exhibition, I jumped at the idea of being restricted to a 10×10 canvas.

Rather than limiting the subject, we artists were limited to canvas size (not type though, whew–that’d sure be interesting!).

For this show, I decided to stick with the Amazon/jungle-inspired theme I worked in for most of 2019 and went with my “Jaguar” stamp on a wooden canvas.

Then, for fun, I tried a palette knife stroke of red and orange across the bottom.

jaguar-multimedia-linocut-on-wood-panel

It was my first time using a palette knife but I really wanted to add that extra stroke of fierceness to this stamp, and feel like that splash of color definitely did that! Color is something I want to incorporate more in my pieces, to give them a little more of my latinx flair.

Apparently this color also inspired my gallery assistant, Benjy, to get to work! Here he is helping me add wiring to this wood panel:

san-diego-artist-assistant-cat

He works quickly.

I always love to see the different ways other artists interpret show themes…it’s always so fun to see all the pieces together in the end: they’re alike, but they’re also so. different.

As an example, check out this image taken from the doors of La Bodega’s old space (do you see my little guy there in the bottom row??)

La Bodega Gallery always puts on such great shows that I love participating in!

The Perfect 10 Group Exhibit ran from October 12 to October 21, 2019 at La Bodega Gallery in Barrio Logan, San Diego, CA. See more details on the event page.

What’s your favorite art theme or subject?

How to Make a Linocut Print: Printmaking Tutorial from a Working Artist

Printmaking is a fairly inexpensive art for beginners to get into! In a nutshell, the printmaking process consists of a design carved into a linoleum block that is then transferred to paper. Here’s a short printmaking tutorial (videos included):

1. Get your supplies together

When it comes to printmaking, there are a lot of different options in brayers, inks, papers, techniques–you get the picture. Luckily, when not bought in bulk, these supplies are pretty affordable. I recommend experimenting with different materials to find out what you like best!

These are my favorite printmaking products:

Linoleum Blocks

When it comes to traditional linoleum blocks versus other kinds, I definitely recommend a more rubber-like kind of block. Be careful though–I’ve ordered some rubber printmaking blocks that felt more like jumbo erasers (they were very tough to carve…). My personal favorite is the Speedball Speedy-Carve Carving Block because it pretty much cuts like butter.

Carving Tools

I think the majority of other printmakers would agree with me when I say that a simple carving tool with interchangeable blades will do, like this tool from Speedball with 5 different heads. It’s a great 5-in-1 tool! I’ve been using the Blick version of this tool for the last 4 years and it’s just now started to dull. It’s pretty reliable too!

Of course there’s something to be said about the quality of tools used when making artwork (especially true for paintbrushes), but a nice tool set like a basic Pfiel set of 6 will put you out about $150…which is a much higher investment than that $10 Speedball tool.

Plus, you don’t need expensive tools to make great art!

Other Printmaking Supplies

  • A brayer or roller (my fave is the Speedball 4”)
  • Printmaking paper or cardstock (I use a combination of both!)
  • Doodle paper
  • A pencil
  • Somewhere to roll out your ink…I use a piece of plexiglass from an old picture frame
  • Tracing paper (optional)

2. Design or draw something!

Draw a flower, or a friend, or the first place you felt on top of the world. It doesn’t matter! Just remember that whatever you draw will be mirrored onto the linoleum block, so if there’s any text…do a horizontal flip in photoshop.

3. Transfer your image onto the block

This step is where the optional tracing paper comes in. It’s also one of my favorite printmaking hacks!

Whenever I’m done drawing out the image I want to carve, I’ll trace over it with tracing paper to make sure that the lines are clean and the pencil is fresh. Then I’ll flip that paper face down (or doodle-side down) onto the block and scribble the heck out of the back. This pressure will transfer your picture onto the block and get everything ready for you to start carving.

4. Carve out the negative space

If you went for an interchangeable carving tool, then you’ll have a lot of options when it comes to blade shapes: anywhere from small to big, and wide to shallow. Choose one and start carving!

If it’s your first time carving, it’s best to start with shallow cuts so you can get a feel for the material. And always carve away from your body and fingers.

Here’s a video of the above steps:

@natashateym

Carve with me 🐱💕 next up: inking this stamp #printmaking #printmakersforlife #printmakingartist #workinprogress

♬ original sound – natashateym

5. Prepare your ink

Pull out your handy-dandy picture frame glass and squeeze out a small amount of ink onto the surface. Roll it out with your brayer until the ink is smooth and kinda sounds like you’re stirring mac and cheese, and your brayer is evenly coated. This may take a handful of strokes!

6. Ink your block

Roll out a thin layer of ink on your block, making sure to cover every part you want to show.

7. Wipe off your hands 🙂

8. Let the paper meet the block

Use steady pressure to transfer the ink to your paper.

There are a couple of different ways to transfer the ink, like laying your paper on top of the block or even picking up the block and pressing it face-down onto your paper.

9. Peel the paper from the block

Your very first print may be less than perfect. Heck, mine was. I’ll show you. Here’s the very first print I ever made (and the ink was applied with a makeup sponge, if you couldn’t tell):

french-bulldog-linocut-print

So don’t give up. It may take a few more attempts to make a print that you’re happy with, and if the final result still seems off, you can always go back and carve more from your block, print, and repeat.

10. Let dry and enjoy

And remember, a big part of printmaking is embracing the imperfections; They sure do look a lot cooler!

Here’s another video of the inking steps:

@natashateym

Test printing mister meow 😻 #printmakingartist #printmaking #printmakersforlife #workinprogress

♬ bad guy(meow version) – funny

And, since I showed you the process of carving and printing that block, it’s only fair to show you the final product.

cat-face-line-art-linoprint-and-stamp

What are you carving? I’d love to see!

This Introvert Was Interviewed on an Art Podcast (…oh boy)

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to be invited on to The Artist Unmasked podcast to chat with the lovely Erica about my printmaking and poetry!

Impostor syndrome quickly set in, after the initial excitement of “someone actually wants me to talk about my work??”

According to my Google search history at 12am, 70 percent of people experience impostor syndrome at least once in their lives, which is onset by either a new environment, relationship, or setting. However, knowing this fact did not help me in preparing for my interview. It also didn’t help calm my nerves.

So, how did this introvert get control of her nerves enough to actually go to the podcast interview?

Honestly? I didn’t.

I’d be lying if I said I wish I had confirmed that there’d be some kind of alcohol or even stowed a bottle in my trunk that morning before heading to work. But I didn’t.

So I’m still an introvert. And I still have impostor syndrome. But I was interviewed on a podcast, which is pretty cool, and I’m still working on doing more things that scare me (every once in a while).

The Top 10 Questions I Get Asked About Printmaking

You know that moment when you show someone a poem you wrote or a piece of art that you made and they cock their head to the side and look at your piece? Yeah, that happens every time I bring my prints into shops or when I participate in gallery shows. And if you’re wondering — no, it doesn’t feel any less awkward… although I’ve gotten really good at predicting the next words that come out of their mouth (it’s always some kind of printmaking question!). The questions are usually in this order:

That’s not a painting or a drawing, is it… what is it?

It’s a linocut! Well, technically, a linoprint (because it’s usually the print of the linocut block that I get asked about). It’s made from a block of linoleum/rubber that I carve then ink and press onto paper.

…So you make stamps?

Yes, exactly! linocut block of pin up girl in black ink

It looks kind of like a wood carving. Is that the same thing?

Linocuts are very similar to woodcuts although wood is much tougher to carve through.

Do you use knives or something like a knife?

X-Acto knives can be a useful tool but the main tool that’s used to gouge the surface of the blocks are known as cutting/carving tools — Blick calls them “linoleum cutters.” They’re basically a rounded handle with interchangeable heads. For those that are really into tools — I’ve been trying to talk myself out of buying a Flexcut Pro Set. The tool heads are made of metal and have sharp divets that can slice through the top of the linoleum.

Is that the only tool you need?

It’s the only tool that’s really necessary! There’s a few other tools that definitely make it easier to get a clean transfer, like brayers (they help to apply the ink evenly on the block). I’m partial to bigger brayers — I’ve been having a lot of fun with gradients lately and it’s definitely easier to get a smooth color transition with a larger brayer. When I first started, I didn’t have much trouble with smaller ones (my troubles mainly came from inexperience then 😉 Barens also make image transfers much easier, although many printmakers do prefer using a wooden spoon over a baren!

What’s the printmaking process like?

So. much. planning. It starts with a sketch, like most other forms of art do. When I’m happy with my sketch, I’ll wipe off my block, transfer the image on, then start carving. I usually share more of my process/set-up on my Instagram stories too 🙂

How do you get the picture on there? Can you just print it on?

I wish! That would make it so much easier. There’s a lot of great tutorial about how to transfer a printed inkjet image onto a block but it involves a lot of glue, a little water, and a lot of patience — all of which I forego for a sheet of tracing paper and a pencil. I usually trace my sketches onto tracing paper with pencil then place the sheet face-down on the block and scribble over the backside of the paper. When I remove the paper, the image is clear (or close to clear) on the block. Sometimes the rubber blocks have a bit of a chalky coating on them (it prevents the blocks from sticking together) which I just wipe off with a slightly damp paper towel. If the piece is more detailed/complicated, I’ll use sharpie to go over the lines in case the pencil smudges off.

Can you use acrylic paint?

I’ve definitely played around with acrylic paint when I first started and won’t discourage anyone from using it (block ink is expensive and doesn’t have the same color range as acrylic, okay). What I learned from my trials, though, is that acrylic doesn’t coat the blocks evenly like block ink. It also ripped the paper in some spots if the block stayed in contact for more than .3 seconds AND it bunched up in all the carved out grooves, making it difficult to clean the blocks (and it also dried the blocks out so use caution!!!).

Did you study printmaking in art school?

No, I actually didn’t go to art school! I always wanted to go… for ceramics… but studied a lot of other subjects at a few different four-year universities. After switching my major from psychology to biochemistry (I studied biochem & human bio for 3 whole years!) to theatre, I got my degree in Literature & Writing Studies. I still would like to go to art school, though, and finally take a class on ceramics and learn more about try out different ways to make art!

How’d you learn how to carve the blocks then? Why’d you decide to start?

SO many printmaking forums and YouTube videos. And a lot of practice! Once I started feeling comfortable around the materials and threw out a few blocks, I found it much easier to play around. I originally picked up printmaking as a way to distract myself from the writer’s block I hit when writing my poetry chapbook, Recurrent Events. It seemed like an easier way to kill time than thinking about how I should be doing something else. The blocks caught my eye at Blick and I haven’t looked back (until right now, I guess)!

“Buy Art, Not Drugs”: Art Fair & Critique in Salt Lake City, Utah

On March 21st, I was scrolling through an artwork hashtag on Instagram during my lunch break at work when I came across this post by Connection High School teacher, Justin Wheatley:

lebron-james-buy-art-not-drugs

I was immediately on board, especially having gone to high school in a city where drug use was prevalent and where our school district had begun to defund our art and music programs. That being said, I ran home and threw some prints in a mailer and got to the post office 5 minutes before it closed.

This art fair, titled “Buy Art, Not Drugs,” was focused on providing students with opportunity to learn about different art styles and encouraged them to spend $2-$10 on a piece of original work of art instead of a vending machine snack. The focus of this fair, organized by art teachers Justin Wheatley and Clint Whiting, wasn’t to sell to students (most of the students at this publish alternative high school are on a free or reduced lunch) but to teach them how surrounding themselves with artwork can enrich their homes and their lives.

100% of the proceeds from the 31 works of art that sold during the fair (April 15) have been re-invested in students through the Granite Foundation, which provides food, supplies, and glasses to students.

It was exciting to have donated 2 works of art to this art fair (“Jaguar” and “Papaya”)! I loved following along as the fair was occurring and seeing the students’ reactions to art.

The Buy Art, Not Drugs project is still ongoing. Learn more at ArtistTeachers.org.