Junior printmaking student enjoys challenges of trial and error

Junior printmaking student thrives with trial and error

Published: January 23, 2020

Chloe Crookall is a junior studio arts major, and aspiring printmaker.

Chloe Crookall, junior studio arts major, is no stranger to patience. A lithograph, just one method of printing, usually takes about a week to complete if worked on every day. Crookall first spends two hours graining the stone, followed by spending days completing the drawing on the stone. The etch takes about an hour and is left to sit for a day. Then, another etch is done and is left to sit for another day. Often times, after completing the piece, Crookall is disappointed in the final product. “If you don’t do all the steps in the exact right order perfectly it gets derailed and it’s all over,” Crookall said.

Instead of letting the challenges of printmaking deter her, Crookall has embraced trial and error and said she is committed to bettering herself as an artist. “I love it enough where I’m not going to be deterred by that,” Crookall said. “It’s a fun challenge, like I’m going to get it right next time.”

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Dusty Herbig, printmaking professor at SU, said printmaking is a technically-complicated form of art. He said he not only admires Crookall’s willingness to make mistakes but also her commitment to overcome challenges she encounters. “She has to do what everyone who is successful is willing to do,” Herbig said. “She’s willing to fail.”

Crookall said art has always been a part of her life. Printmaking, however, was a new challenge once she got to college. Crookall wasn’t interested in illustration or graphic design but loved the idea of image-making and design. She chose printmaking because she could produce a product that looks like it was created digitally, but through a process that was hands-on.

Herbig remembers Crookall as a student who pursued printmaking early on in her college career. He said that Crookall was one of very few students to receive keys to her studio as a sophomore. “Getting your key is a moment where you can feel like, ‘Okay I belong in here,’” Herbig said. “Not everyone gets them.”

Crookall stood out to Herbig for her dedication to her work. This semester, Crookall is taking on several different projects in different modes of printmaking. Her current project is a copper-plate etching combined with a lithographic piece. She has been inspired by working with the imagery of rocks and the intersection of man and nature.

She has also been working on a screen-printing project called a “zine.” This project was inspired by society’s control over humans. She said this project has been an outlet from the rest of her more traditional work. Crookall’s first screen-print for this project did not turn out as planned. The layers did not line up properly and Crookall had to redo the process. “It’s a little tough to have that constantly happening to you for every project,” Crookall said. “It definitely was a little but depressing, but I’m excited to get it perfect and get it right next time.”

After college, Crookall hopes to work in a print shop and create prints. She hopes to have access to a shop or rent her own studio since printmaking requires expensive equipment and access to a studio. “It’s definitely on my mind a lot, thinking about the future and how I’m going to be able to be an artist when I’m not in a facility that’s catered to that,” Crookall said.

Either way, Crookall hopes to stay disciplined and continue learning. She said she plans to make herself go to the library to read books and do research. “I constantly am striving,” Crookall said. “I just want to make art that I’m proud of.”

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Though printmaking comes with challenges, Crookall said it is also very rewarding. One of her proudest pieces was a lithograph of a rock that she printed this semester. It was a project she had been working on since the summer and last year was just the first year Crookall did lithography. At a certain point in the process, the challenges and failure had become a deterrent.

Crookall even considered no longer continuing to try lithography if this project did not come out as she expected. This, as it turns out, would not be the case. Crookall’s lithograph came out just as she had hoped. She said she remembers feeling such pure joy in that moment. “Having that knowledge in the back of my head to be like, ‘Well you did it, the evidence is right there, you can do it again’ is helpful and its nice and that was definitely one of the best moments I’d say of my college career,” Crookall said. “It’s just sort of the push that you need to keep going.”