Heather Kahn-Pyatt is a printmaker based in Boulder, CO. Inspired by various influences of textiles, graphic design and architecture, Kahn-Pyatt is dedicated to exploring the endless possibilities of printmaking.
What is the story behind your latest designs/collection?
My current work is a melding of the many visual influences I’ve been immersed in for over the past 2 decades: textile design, fine art, graphic design and architecture. I play with patterns and motifs by taking them out of their original context and use the abstracted forms, repurposing them, so to speak, to suggest impressions about time, place and states of sensory awareness. I am inspired by anything from a piece of handwoven fabric, the intricacy of a high altitude wildflower, to the way light falls over a pile of tools on a work table. I love the challenge of bringing disparate, deconstructed elements together to create a totally new form. While the process is thoughtful and technical, it does feel magical when various components (shapes, color, lines and textures in my case) come together to resonate, and spark an emotion. The challenge for me is to produce artwork that is intentional, but not literal. It should be open to interpretation and each viewer’s own sensibility.
When designing who is the person you have in mind?
To be honest, I am creating these pieces first and foremost for myself. It is the most natural way for me to find meaning and clarity from the world around me, and establish my place in it. Ultimately, when I feel an image or series of works is resonating and visually strong, I want whomever views it to be intrigued, and hopefully moved in some way.
What has been the most challenging thing when starting your own brand?
I will change “brand” to “artwork” in order to be more accurate about what is currently the focus of my work. Also, after taking a very long hiatus from my own studio practice, I consider myself at the front end of creating a career, or “business” for my art.
The most difficult part is the process of building the image. Each piece may have an initial idea or plan behind it, but once in the act of creating begins, questions as to how to compose the image- the colors, the scale, the level of transparency or opacity and the arrangement of everything- become the greatest challenge. The second, more practical challenge is getting the work out there into the community so people can see who you are as an artist. We put so much energy into actually making work in the studio, but it is equally important to connect with galleries, exhibitions, museums, clients and other artists.
What is the most important thing you have learned about design and yourself since then?
What I have learned is that the many years I’ve spent working outside my studioraising kids, building houses, designing textiles and teaching, has not slowed or stunted my development as an artist. I would not have the heightened attention to design, the technical skill, or the pure appreciation and fascination with all forms of design if I had just remained cloistered in my studio and not out in the world, working on a variety of projects with others, and for clients. What I am creating now in my studio has a direct link to my experience in all these other areas.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
This is a big question! The artists and designers who inspire me all have unique sensitivity in their work- even if their work is part of a larger movement. It may be something very subtle, a particular way they make marks or compose their picture plane, or the unique combination of materials they use. These artists and artisans can come from many disciplines and any period, genre or place. I try to look carefully and glean what I can from them so that my own work can continually evolve.
What would be your one piece of advice to anyone embarking into the design business?
Art is a business as well so I would say enlist help if you can in order to stay organized and on top of things. Learn what you can in the areas you are less adept at and don’t be afraid to ask questions at the risk of seeming naive or lacking. Hone your craft, and be open to broadening your skill sets. Stay open and keep at it.
There are a handful of lovely people who have mentored me, given feedback and spurred me on when my confidence was lacking. I am so grateful for their support.