An Interview With Current Don Wright Scholar Megan Wells
What do you like about printshop culture?
I enjoy the sense of community at Printshops. St.Michael’s is a shared space so there has to be a level of communication established between the people working within it. There’s a lot of different artist and printers using the space and it’s been exciting getting to know them and their work. Working at St.Michael’s Printshop has been great for networking and joining new communities.
What do you like about working at St. Michael’s specifically?
I enjoy the freedom and independence of being able to come in and work at any time that suits with my schedule, I enjoy the downtown location, and I enjoy working alongside a lot of different people. There are lots of different users in the space from both the community and the visiting artist residency program, so I’ve got to make a lot of new friends and connections. I’ve also been welcomed and introduced to other organizations within the St. Johns arts community which has been invaluable because it can be tough getting to know the ins and outs of a new city.
How have you adapted your time management?
As far as time management goes, it’s not that much different than balancing your art making between classes and work. I work full time so I come into the shop in the evenings and the weekends I have off. It’s all about creating a schedule for yourself and following through with it. It’s awesome that users have access to the studio 24/7, so whatever time you prefer to work, it’s available. It’s important to find your own methods and schedules. As long as you keep carving out time to work on your art you’ll be set.
Can you talk about your experience coming from a structured program into a mostly independent residency?
At the beginning of this scholarship it took some real adjusting to get out of the “school mind set.” I had to set my own deadlines and set my own pace. It’s really freeing being able to create your own projects and deadlines. You have the capability to put something on the back burner and return to it later. It can be a bit scary, because you don’t have someone telling you “you’re on the right path” or “try out this instead” but you have to trust yourself, and there’s plenty of people around you can bounce ideas off of.
Where do you find your materials?
I work sculpturally and on fabric so I find a lot of my materials at second hand and hardware stores, but I also order occasionally online. It can be difficult to come across printmaking materials for sale locally (i.e. paper, ink etc). St. Michael’s does carry a small selections of ink, paper and other materials for sale, but anything outside of that you’ll have to order online. I use Aboveground art supplies a lot.
How did you find throwing yourself into a new community?
It can always be a little intimidating coming into a new place and meeting new people. At the beginning I spent a lot of time just hanging out in the studio, even if I wasn’t working on anything, just to meet new people. It’s also really important to go to events, openings, or anything that you hear about. It’s part of the scholarship and you’ll get to meet people in the community that aren’t part of the printshop. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. I always get a little nervous when it comes to networking or “talking art”, but I’ve learned to just say hi and go from there.
How is the final show curated?
The Don Wright Scholar is pretty hands on with the show. Usually the show includes pieces from everything you’ve worked on throughout the year, but it’s your own show and you get to decide what goes in it. You get the experience of planning and setting up a show, and the crew here are happy to provide feedback and lend a hand.
Can you talk about what it was like to move to St.John’s?
I’ve done a fair amount of moving so the process has become second nature to me, but I had moved to Edmonton a few months before getting the scholarship, so this time I had to make a lot of arrangements from a far/online, i.e. finding an apartment, figuring out how to get around, finding a job etc. I found planning to move somewhere for a year, was a lot easier than a shorter amount of time, it made finding a place to stay and a job much easier. The only thing was packing; there’s a year’s worth of weather and a lot art to be made so you have to make some tough decision on what to bring with you . The community here is super welcoming and you can reach out to the crew at the shop if you have any questions before and after your move, they are more than willing to point you in the right directions. I was fortunate enough being from NL, I already had friends and family in St. John’s that could help me with the move.