We love upstate New York! between Earth Angels, Upstate Stock, and now Wolf Jaw Press we are itching for a visit! Recently we sat down with Alicia Burnett, the owner of Wolf Jaw Press for a brief chat about what she does, why she is a maker and why you should support American made.
FOLK: Hi! Please introduce yourself.
WOLF JAW PRESS: I’m Alicia Burnett, and I am a designer, artist, and all around maker. I’m also the sole proprietor of Wolf Jaw Press, a small independent printmaking studio that produces fine art screen prints inspired by the beauty of the natural world.
Where in the world are you located?
Right now my studio and I are located in the northern Hudson Valley region of New York State. I’m really happy living and working here. I think it’s a great location for makers like me that love nature and feel more comfortable living in the country versus living in a city. The countryside and farmlands of Upstate New York are a beautiful place to live; it can be quite rural, but it’s not so rural that I feel isolated and disconnected to the surrounding makers and local arts communities. I love the fact I’m surrounded by serene farmland and plenty of open space while still being close enough to New York City, Hudson, and Albany to be physically involved the art communities of those cities.
Why are you a maker?
I am a maker because it feels like the most authentic and natural way for me to live my life and make a living for myself. I am a maker because for as long as I can remember, I have had an insatiable compulsion to create. It’s just something that is in my DNA I guess.
What do you make?
Through my studio, Wolf Jaw Press, I make limited edition screen prints.
How long have you been a maker?
While I’ve always identified as being a creative, artistic individual with a strong desire to make and create, professionally, I haven’t been a maker for that long. I graduated with my MFA from Pratt Institute in 2015, and shorty afterwards I established Wolf Jaw Press. I’ve been a professional maker for less than year! Establishing my own studio and business has been quite the process, but putting in the long hours and hard work has been so worth it. Everyday I learn something new, and seeing my studio slowly but surely grow and flourish gives me an indescribable sense of satisfaction.
Why did you decide on what you do?
It took me a long time to find myself artistically. I attended the Rhode Island School of Design where I spent most of my time as an undergraduate student trying to find a medium that felt comfortable for me. I watched so many of my friends as freshman and sophomores immediately gravitate towards a specific major, and then to a specific medium or process. Meanwhile, I felt like I was interested in too many things. I wanted to do any try everything, but nothing I artistically experimented with felt right.
It wasn’t until the tail end of my junior year that I had a moment of clarity. On a whim, I decided to take a screen printing class with RISD’s printmaking department during the spring semester of my junior year. Within weeks I was completely in love with the screen printing process, but it still took me a few years to find the courage to establish my own screen printing studio and business.
The catalyst that finally pushed me to take the leap of faith and start my own studio were the repeated failures I had at trying to break into the corporate world of design. After my graduation from RISD with my BFA, and then from Pratt my MFA, I had interview after interview with companies and design firms, but it seemed that no one wanted to hire me. In hindsight, these “failures” in getting hired, while discouraging and frustrating at the time, pushed me to realize that maybe I should try to open my own studio and be self employed.
Favorite part about being a maker?
There is so much I love about being a maker! In short, I love the freedom and control it gives me in my personal and professional life. While being self employed undoubtedly comes with an expected level of uncertainly and stress, I have been able to experience a level of freedom that is both liberating and exhilarating. By being a maker, I get to do what I love everyday and I get to be my own boss. I decided what I want to make and when I want to make it, I create my own hours, I decide what projects and collaborations I want to work on, and I get to decide how and in what direction I want my business to grow.
I also love that each day always hold something new and different. I could never have a job where I do the same thing everyday sitting at a desk. As a maker and a self employed artist, I get to first and foremost create the art that I love to make, but I also get to explore and learn about financial management, business strategies, legal procedures, accounting, and marketing. I’m learning and exploring so much. I find that my days bouncing between slinging ink in the studio, compiling and analyzing finical reports hunched over my laptop, or researching small business growth strategies are engaging and deeply rewarding.
Why support makers?
When you shop for items made by artisans and makers, you can expect receive high quality goods crated with care while your dollars contribute to and strengthening a local economy. By supporting makers, you are also helping support someone’s passion. We makers care so deeply and passionately about what we do, and through buying our goods you enable us to make a living off of our authentic passion for creating.