Artist profile: Marty May

This post is the first in a series of profiles of artists that will be featured at Delta Workshop.

Marty May’s t-shirts show off her original drawings and amazing screen printing skills. She’s been making shirts for adults and kids, and onesies for babies, for about 5 years now. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work, and invited me to her Sacramento studio to see it all in person.

In addition to having her t-shirts and onesies in the shop, she’ll be teaching a screen printing class at Delta in the near future, stay tuned for details!

Marty May in her studio with silkscreens in the background

Marty May in her studio with silkscreens in the background

What do you make?
I’m a screen printer, so I print on anything fabric or paper. This includes t shirts, tank tops, cardigans, onesies, neckties, and small posters.

Flying Bike Shirt, available on Etsy

How long have you been making art?
From the moment I could scribble with a crayon, I loved art, so I guess all my life. As I mature, my appreciation grows and my art changes as I refine my style.

What materials do you use, and why are you drawn to them?
I mostly use American Apparel because they provide hip, quality clothing manufactured with humane labor practices. They’re also relatively local, so I’m not causing excess fuel consumption. Over the years, I’ve found that some people avoid American Apparel for various reasons, so I also offer Canvas/Bella Brand. They are one of the more socially responsible clothing brands out there and their quality and style meet my expectations.

In addition to the clothing, I use professional water based ink for most of my printing. Water based ink seeps into the fabric and dies it, remaining soft instead of sitting on top like a hard top coat. This way, the design feels natural on the fabric and comfortable against your skin.

For my paper prints, I use French Paper: one of the last family-owned paper mills in the United States. It’s more expensive than other papers, but the quality and style are totally worth it. I keep that as an unofficial moto for all my materials.

Ink

Screen printing ink

What’s your workspace like, or what is your ideal workspace?
I love my workspace. I share a warehouse with seven other artists at 14th and C St. in which I have a great set up with everything I need neatly organized. We have a darkroom and washout sink; I have my printing press, flash dryer, and plenty of table space.

I used to work in a different studio at 10th and J St which was shared with some artists and some bands. It always smelled like old beer and a steep, long staircase was the only access which made packing for craft fairs quite difficult. Those memories help me appreciate my current space all the more. Alas, the rent is raising after this year and we will look for another place. It seems to be an eternal cycle.

Screen printing table with screens ready to go

Screen printing table with screens ready to go

Silkscreens

Silkscreens, wonderfully labeled

What are your influences?
I appreciate the underground/indie culture in which I find myself immersed. I loved The Hub when it was around and Sol Collective is rad. There was a sweet little house called Synchronicitree that held open mics and helped shape my ideas about human capacity, as well as Burning Man. The art and people there are phenomenal.

I find myself most at home in nature, so I go backpacking every chance I get. I like to be out there for as long as possible (food permitting) and feel refreshed and abuzz with creative energy when I return.

Screen with images for onesies

Screen with images for onesies

What inspires you?
I find inspiration in all things: a face in my tea, an animal-shaped tree, album covers, my friends, and whatever music I’m currently into. It’s completely random; inspiration strikes unexpectedly.

What is something you’ve always wanted to learn?
I would love to learn circus arts. I have some hula hoop tricks under my belt and just a little bit of poi spinning, but I want to learn aerial silks. They are beautiful. I think I’m a prime candidate because of my ballet background, but practice requires buying and hanging silks… which can be inconvenient. Maybe someday when I have a yard with an ample tree…

 

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