Meet Marian Short of Cakeasaurus, a talented printmaker who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia in a creative, project-focused family, and now makes her home in Ann Arbor. Ever since an introductory printmaking class in 1999, she has been carving woodblocks in her basement, creating playful, narrative works of art.
What do you remember wanting to be when you grew up?
When I was in second grade, I decided I wanted to be a children's picture book author. As I grew up, the ideal shifted from writer to poet (during the height of the angst-ridden stage). The desire to write and make things has never left me!
What inspired you to start creating your artwork & how did you turn it into a business?
When I took my first woodblock printmaking class in 1999, it just fit. I loved the changes occurring at each stage: from sketching, carving the negative space from the wood, and playing with paint shades, to hand pulling prints from each inked block (or using a manual printing press)... there was always more to explore. Ever since that class, ideas have seemed to periodically surface for me - and the more often I am carving or sketching, the more frequently these ideas come. It often starts with an animal character muttering something snarky in my head.
What makes your artwork unique or distinctive?
I think my woodblocks convey a certain playfulness and quirkiness, but also acknowledge the difficulties and awkwardness of life. I still love a good picture book; similarly, I love to explore the interplay between text and image in my designs. I like creating partial narratives - but while partial, they can stand on their own, be taken on different levels... or in new directions by the viewer.
What do you most love about the creative process?
I love the initial moment an idea pops into being. I get this sense of: "Well. Here's something." In both writing and printmaking, I love that where you start - and where you originally intended to go - is rarely where you end up. It is only natural that the route you are forging takes unanticipated turns. And sometimes it doesn't ultimately go anywhere. But often it is better than what you had thought you had wanted. The more you can trust that you'll go someplace interesting, the more you can potentially learn, and the more fun you'll have.
I love when I'm trying to draw a character's facial expression and I catch myself hunching over the paper, mimicking the expression I am trying to draw. I love when the idea of a sketch cracks me up: this is usually a good sign. Much further down the line, I love observing people react to my prints - especially when there's a surprised laugh/chuckle/snort, followed by them beckoning a friend to come see. That's the best.
What do you enjoy doing besides making art?
Lifelong reader: my mom had to push me out into the sunshine to play when I was younger. Family car trips were punctuated with, "Marian, look out the window, you're missing everything!" By extension, I love writing... blogging has replaced journaling for me - I was surprised to find I like the sense of friends and strangers reading what I care to write. I started cooking as soon as I was allowed to touch the stove; I love that even when a day is a bust, it can be redeemed by cooking or baking something good. I started running later in life, but love the rush during and the sense of elated calm afterwards.
You can find lots of Marian's wonderful woodblock prints at Yellow Door, as well as online. Stay tuned for more fun and interesting info about Marian all week!
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