Rosy Kirby

Rosy Kirby draws and makes prints. She begins by drawing pen and ink images both “strange and meticulous.” Then she turns the drawings into hand-pulled silkscreen prints. Her art can be found online and at festivals and fairs throughout North Carolina but mostly Asheville. When she’s not making prints or hanging with friends she’s “slinging coffee” at High Five.

How long have you been doing your work? I’ve been a visual thinker from the very start. Drawing has always been a means of expression, escape, and problem-solving.

Is it your full-time gig? Someday maybe! I sling coffee full time with the sweet folks at High Five on Broadway.

How did you get started? My mom was a printmaker; she planted the seed from the start. She set up a wooden desk in the corner of her studio with drawing materials to keep my hands occupied while she carved traditional woodcuts. We shared this creative space but never worked together directly, content in our own visual projects.

What is your morning practice? Pouring coffee into my body, putting in contacts, and taking the dog out. The rest is usually just a scramble!

“When beginning a fresh drawing, I’ve found it helpful to ink in the things you are sure of and to not push yourself to know all the answers right away. Once you’ve initially laid out several confident marks, it will be easier for ideas to unfold organically.”

What is your daily routine? For art-making days, the first steps in prepping are air and movement. In the morning I will spend at least an hour outside with my pup, either walking around our neighborhood or running trails outside of town. This immersion in green space gets our wiggles out and makes it easier for us both to sit still in the afternoon.

Active work time usually begins after lunch. I make sure my workstation is completely clean and set up. It’s helpful to run through a mental checklist of every material I may need so that they can be ready within arms reach. Once everything is in place, I dive into a deep visual headspace and my fingers start to wake up.

Printmaking moves in cycles of quiet introspection and muscling through production. While initially drawing I listen to podcasts almost exclusively, headphones on. While printing, my boo and I spin records and laugh and drink beer, laying down layers of color together.

If no, how do you make time for your creative work? Where do you fit it into your day? The urge of making hovers around me constantly. Throughout the day, I am constantly calculating my energy levels and considering what I will have creative juice for. My freshest days I devote to meticulous drawings and printing registration layers. On days when I feel depleted, I give myself mindless tasks like packaging prints or simply reorganizing the workspace.

Evening ritual? I’ll often make room in my brain for dreams by journaling in bed, which for me means drawing or making lists. It’s the last thing I do before turning off the light.

Why did you choose printmaking? Drawing has always been my first love, but I wanted to widen my creative scope beyond just pen on paper. Channeling this skill into printmaking encouraged more craft development and the ability to share affordable art with others, it’s always seemed like the logical next step. And it’s so damn fun!

I studied printmaking in college, mostly intaglio, but moved toward silkscreen printing after moving to Asheville post-undergrad. My partner Matt is a self-taught screen printer and has been teaching me the subtleties of serigraphy for several years now. The process lends itself well to line work and encourages pops of color (which otherwise intimidate me). It’s also one of the few print mediums that don’t require a ton of equipment and chemicals.

What do you most love about printmaking? Pulling prints is magic! You’re never quite sure of the final image until it whips off the plate or falls from the screen. When everything falls into place the room sparkles.

What do you want to say to the world with your art? It’s always felt important to communicate a sense of place and truthfulness.

My work has always had some cathartic roots, let’s be real. My hope is to channel those slippery thoughts into something easier to pinpoint, to weave in human experience with the natural elements that shape our everyday lives.

These shadowy narratives are drawn in hopes that they’ll hit close to home with someone, or at least suggest fresh things to think on. To create environments for others to crawl into.

How do you share your work? I usually show fresh work several times a year, both framed in public spaces and packaged at local craft fairs. In between physical installations, I share digital updates on Instagram and constantly offer work for purchase at Horse and Hero downtown.

What’s hardest for you about sharing your work? I’ve really had to wrangle myself into social media, especially sharing photos of my everyday life in addition to my makings. I’m pretty camera shy.

What makes it easier? I shuffle back into a viewer standpoint and recognize that the lifestyle of the maker is part of the creative package. Your audience applies their feelings about you to the things you make, and subconsciously draws connections between the two. In a world so accustomed to silently viewing the intimate moments of others through a screen, it’s almost expected.

How do you deal with the ebbs and flows of creativity? Make creativity habitual. Whether it’s diving into a project or simply decluttering your studio, spend time in this electric space every day.

I usually keep several projects going at once, and can tap into these respective pieces depending on my mood and energy level. This helps keep the ball rolling without putting myself under pressure to accomplish one particular project immediately.

Setting up exhibitions and giving yourself deadlines can also be a good kick start!

Pulling prints is magic! You’re never quite sure of the final image until it whips off the plate or falls from the screen. When everything falls into place the room sparkles.

Pulling prints is magic! You’re never quite sure of the final image until it whips off the plate or falls from the screen. When everything falls into place the room sparkles.

“Much of my imagery is strange. There’s sometimes a small voice that questions what is or isn’t marketable, if including certain elements will deter some audiences. But my favorite artists are never the ones who play it safe. I try to keep it honest.

Where do you turn for inspiration and/or how do you stay inspired? I think it’s important to keep tabs on what others are making, both locally and globally. It keeps you in tune with the creative zeitgeist, whether you choose to tap into these collective visuals or not.

I also love spending time outside, natural elements and colors lend themselves so well to creative output.

What do you do when life gets hard (to make it less hard)? I get out of town and into the woods, whether it’s for the afternoon or for longer. I have pity parties, spend money on sexy houseplants, and take really hot showers.

What makes you laugh out loud? The show “Arrested Development,” the noises my pup makes.

What do you hold as true? Daphne, I’ve stewed on this for half an hour, ha! I don’t know.

Best advice received? “Draw what you know.”

Biggest lesson learned so far? When printing, just make a damn template. Just do it.

Your advice? This life is your one shot, fight off any regrets you may have as best you can. Try to balance being present with your ability to build the life you hope for.

Favorite tools, gadgets, apps?

For drawing: FW India ink, crow and hawk quill nibs, hot press Bristol paper.

For printing: French paper company, speedball ink.

For focus: Cactus water, podcasts, quality headphones.

 

 

If you had a tattoo on your forehead what would it say? It would be wordless.

Do you wait for inspiration or start regardless? ALWAYS START, always.

I’ve also found it helpful to keep a journal of ideas, loose compositions, and lists. Referencing these thoughts is a great launching board if things ever feel stagnant, and you can begin to draw parallels and gems out of your mental chatter.

When beginning a fresh drawing, I’ve found it helpful to ink in the things you are sure of and to not push yourself to know all the answers right away. Once you’ve initially laid out several confident marks, it will be easier for ideas to unfold organically

Where do you get your ideas? I pull visuals from plants, Appalachian folklore, and mostly memory.

How do you get creatively unstuck? I usually stay too busy to run out of ideas. My struggle is more so to make genuine time for them!

How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, and other distractions? Yeah, that struggle can be so real! For me, I’ve found the story hook of podcasts and talk radio to be helpful in staying grounded. Tuning into a narrative keeps my eyes focused and my hands-free, and I’m less likely to interrupt the program for peeps at email or social media.

As far as outside obligations, I tend to overload my social world on certain days to make room for uninterrupted studio time. For example, I’ll work my high-volume day job, run errands, and hang with pals all in a day, and spend the next day holed up and printing.

What books do you turn to for inspiration? My shelves are mostly full of visual escapes, graphic novels, and books on plants and insects. Some of my favorite authors are Nate Powell, Michael DeForge, and Gipi, all strange cats and beautiful illustrators.

How do you take risks in your art? Much of my imagery is strange. There’s sometimes a small voice that questions what is or isn’t marketable, if including certain elements will deter some audiences.

But then, my favorite artists are never the ones who play it safe. I try to keep it honest.

I think that’s the real spark.

What’s the next step/level/leap for you in your work? I keep pushing to hone my craft, to be a better illustrator and a more consistent printer. I hope one day to leap into printmaking full time.

Five interesting facts about you? 1. I’m a sucker for a swimming hole. 2. The American west is always calling to me. 3. Gummy candies are an ultimate indulgence. 4. I grew up on a blueberry farm in Virginia. 5. I’ve got a real cute lisp.

 

“Make creativity habitual. Whether it’s diving into a project or simply decluttering your studio, spend time in this electric space every day.

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