Anna Wingfield grew up in Seattle, WA, steps away from the Puget Sound. Spending her childhood exploring damp forests and rocky beaches, her Pacific Northwest roots instilled a deep love of natural elements, which remain a constant source of inspiration to this day. She studied Fine Art at Goucher College in Baltimore and at Goldsmiths in London and now resides in Brooklyn, NY, splitting her time between her studio in Gowanus and shifts behind New York’s bar gems Mother’s Ruin and Bas’ik. Here, Anna discusses her unique eye, unconventional printing methods, and love of creativity whether she is shaking drinks or wiping ink.
How did discover print making?
In high school, I was mildly obsessed with becoming a street artist. I started making stencils and would go out on the weekends and “tag” parts of the neighborhood with my images. However, the fear of being arrested nipped that pipe dream in the bud, and instead of tagging asphalt I started applying spray paint to canvas.
While in college, I took an introductory printmaking class and started working with linoleum. I found numerous similarities between printmaking and stencil making. Cutting out silhouettes and playing with negative space - printmaking allowed me to go deeper and explore not only lines, but textures and depth as well.
I studied at Goldsmiths in London during my final year at University. While screen printing drops of wallpaper that I was going to decay for an installation, I took a crash course in Etching Intaglio on copper plates. This process decays the copper in acid to form a design that has been scratched into the plate. It just clicked and from this point forward, I began developing the style I work with today.
What type of printing making do you work with currently?
Intaglio is a style of printmaking in which the image or design is scratched or incised onto the surface of the copper (or zinc) plate. These cut lines hold the ink when you print, creating an mirror image relief print. I started with etching which uses acid as a corrosive action to bite away the copper, increasing the size of the lines you scratched, adding depth. I love this process of printmaking! Decay fascinates me and with etching I am basically using techniques to decompose the plate.
What is your work process like?
If it’s a printing day, I start by prepping my paper and figuring out the copperplate placement. Then I start to prepare my plate(s). I use a variety of different shapes, sizes, and even some left untouched from various Intaglio processes, but they continue to change with time from natural decay.
I like the contrast in printing a plate that is more traditional Intaglio paired with a natural plate that I ink wipe. Ink wiping is a process I use with the natural copperplates. By wiping, squeegeeing, or rubbing ink onto the surface, the ink interacts with the plate’s blemishes and oxidizations.
Before I ink wipe a plate, I have a basic idea in my head about what texture, design, or color I want to achieve. However, once I start wiping, it’s the ink and how it reacts to the imperfections in the plate that really create the work. The hardest part is deciding when I am done.
Each print is the result of a separate inking, resulting in original works.
Who or what inspires you/your work?
Decay! Rusty metals, urban decay, mold, natural colors palettes and designs found in nature.
When I was living in London, I lived in an adorable (very old) bungalow. The bathroom wall paper was peeling due moisture and most likely black mold that had been growing for years. Despite being gross and TOXIC, the natural designs it created and the contrast of the black mold against the stark white walls was actually very beautiful. I think my fascination started right there.
How have you evolved as a printer? What/how have your interests shaped your work?
I have gone through various stages in my work. Using decay as a source of inspiration I have tried recreating it in various ways (i.e color, style, mimicking mold’s growth). For a while I was more interested in the copperplate itself after it had been through various corrosive acid baths. Now with ink wiping it’s more of a collaboration between my artist hand and the copper.
It’s been wonderful to develop a set of skills that allow me to work wherever I live or visit. The fast pace and social aspect of working behind a bar is exhilarating, and I get to keep my creativity flowing, whether I am making cocktails for guests or developing drinks for clients and menus.
What advice would you give to aspiring printers / bartenders?
Find Balance! You have to find time to create.
It’s very difficult to balance a bartending career (with long and VERY late shifts) with my printing one. After working a busy shift it can be challenging to get up out of bed (while the sun is still up) so I can get my butt to the studio. However it does give me more flexibility than a 9 to 5 job.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years? Any pipe dreams currently in the works?
I would like to print BIG! I have a huge sheet of copper (3ft by 4 ft) that was randomly gifted from a fellow bartender and one day I would like to ink wipe and print that.
One day I would also like to build my own communal printing studio. A space I can work out of alongside fellow printers. Having a community is so important, whether for bartending or the arts. I find that I am more creative and work better when surrounded by fellow creators. I would also like to bring my two careers together. Bartending and art: potentially a studio that can act as an event space for art shows alongside bar pop ups and tastings.
What artists or bartenders do you admire?
Jay DeFeo (painter) - Some of her paintings seem more like sculptures to me. The texture and weight she creates through her paintings is always a source of inspiration and reminds me to be patient and to not rush a product. Her work also reminds me of earth, texture, and decay.