Artist Interview: Q&A with Krista McCurdy


Art Basket Printmaker and Artist, Krista McCurdy, is somewhat of a rule breaker when it comes to her craft. During her printing and development process , Krista likes to experiment with colour and visual texture, giving each of her pieces an element of ‘surprise’.

We had a chat with Krista to find out a little more about her style, influences, and processes.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Quietly beautiful explorative images of nature made using alternative photographic techniques. My ‘style’ created itself all on its own; I began making art again about two and a half years ago after a ten year hiatus so it’s been an educational journey for me, seeing what I am creating in my late thirties as compared to what I was creating in my early twenties.

Could you give us a little insight into your print-making process?

For my cyanotypes, it starts with images I’ve taken of silhouettes of leaves and branches that I process further to have a clean silhouette. That file is printed onto a transparency-- I have a massive stack of them by now--which I use as my “negative”. That gets placed upon pre prepared paper I’ve coated with light-sensitive cyanotype emulsion, and the whole thing gets sandwiched between two plates of glass and put in the sun. That’s a traditional cyanotype. I created a new technique, called The Wet Cyanotype Process, that introduces water and chemicals between the transparency and the paper, and, when exposed for long periods of time, anywhere between 8 to 48 hours, yield different colours and effects than the traditional blue and white colouring of a cyanotype. During the summer I have multiple ones sunning themselves in my driveway.

For lumen prints, it starts with old black and white photographic paper and flowers or leaves. The organic material is placed upon a piece of paper, and sandwiched between glass and put out in the sun for a varying amount of time depending on the UV index. Then, instead of putting it into developer like a traditional analog photograph, it is put straight into fixer then rinsed. Every box of paper yields a slightly different-- or drastically different-- colour.

What made you want to follow this untraditional way of print-making?

I was working on an Artist book for a submission to a juried contest (I didn’t win) and I was using pictures of telephone lines and foliage against the sky and making cyanotype prints from those to illustrate the book. The first batch of chemicals I had must have been contaminated, because I was getting anything but blue and white. Those were far more interesting to me than the ones that turned out right, so I started fiddling around with the process to see how I could recreate some of those effects. Without even realizing it, I had created an entirely new process that had not been done before, simply from liking to mess with processes and liking my mistakes!

I started doing the lumen prints when I felt like I’d gotten as far as I was going to go with my cyanotypes. By this time the wet cyanotype technique had taken off and I was feeling a little

like it had gotten away from me, with artists all over the world using it and people teaching workshops on it. I don’t like doing the same thing as everybody else. Cyanotypes and lumen prints are very similar in the sense that they are photographic processes that do not require the dark room or even a camera, and are exposed by UV light. It was a natural progression to making lumen prints, which have a magic all their own. When you remove the plant matter from the paper the image it has left behind is ghostly with sometimes amazingly vivid colors before it is put into the fixer. Every one is completely unique, and I was hooked. Where I live there is an amazing abundance of vegetation, and while the weather was warm and the sun out I made lumen prints almost every day in the summer. As lumen prints are made on expired black and white photographic paper typically, I had great fun scouring eBay and building up a large stash of different papers!

What inspires you the most to create these pieces of art?

The desire to make things. I’ve never been able to get too academic about my work; when all is said and done, I just like making beautiful things. The process is its own inspiration; when making print after print after print, just the actual practise can raise new ideas and curiosity.

Who do you hope for your artwork to appeal to?

Interior designers, and stores like West Elm, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie. My work is decorative, and working with interior designers and licensing companies are my future goals. I think my work lends itself very well to such things.

Buy botanical cyanotype and lumen prints by Krista McCurdy here.