Local artist captures the beauty of nature through printmaking

by | Nov 24, 2022 | Arts & Life

Local artist Yoyo Siu explores the intricacies of negative space and fine details through her art. Siu, the artist behind Poiemaprints focuses on printmaking, specifically the technique of relief printing using linoleum blocks and ink as mediums. Initially finding her love and passion for this art form during her undergraduate degree in Art and Design at the University of Alberta, Siu has gone on to establish her own small business as well as attend the Strathearn Art Walk this year for the second year in a row. Witnessing the great amount of talent and community of artists in Edmonton pursuing what they love was the inspiration for Siu to discover and continue her own journey.

“The positive feedback and people I met at Strathearn was one of the main reasons I decided to pursue art professionally and more than just a hobby,” Siu said. “I met the kindest and loveliest people who commented on my art, and that was one of the biggest takeaways for me.”

Siu explains that the name of her brand, Poiemaprints, was inspired from the word “poiema,” Greek for “workmanship.” Growing up as a Christian, Siu’s faith is very prominent in her life and she strives to reflect this part of her identity through her art.

“I chose this word from scripture as a reminder of my own identity as one of God’s wonderful creations, and also to create pieces with the same amount of care and love that God put into his own.” 

By capturing the beauty of nature within her prints such as the falling leaves in the fall, or the details in butterfly wings, Siu hopes that viewers of her art will be able to appreciate the small elements of nature, as well as wanting her art to bring people a sense of peace. 

One of Siu’s pieces. Photo Supplied

The main inspiration behind Siu’s prints stem from Japanese woodblock prints, especially the work of old masters such as Utagawa Hiroshige, who focused on nature and the use of colour to create his pieces. Siu states that the traditional process of printmaking is no longer a very popular art form as compared to others, and is often seen as outdated. The process of creating prints through hours of carving into a linoleum block, and finally running the product through a press attracted Siu because it allowed her to see the beauty in making prints the “old way,” as well as appreciate the uniqueness of each print, as they all come out a little different.

“My friend was laughing at me when I told her I bought a printing press! She asked me why I would buy something like that when we can do everything digitally and have flawless prints right away nowadays,” said Siu.

Siu states that the process of carving each detail is a painstaking process and takes a lot of time, but the end product is rewarding to see. To complete a print from start to finish, Siu begins by sketching the main composition and elements of the piece. The finalized design is sketched onto the linoleum block before carving tools are used to outline the main shapes and finally fill in the details. Ink is then applied to the block before it is ran through a press. This entire process can take anywhere from a week to a month for Siu, depending on the size and amount of detail in the design.

“Positive and negative space is a good way to put it. Anything you carve out [of the block] will become the colour of the paper, and what’s left on the block is whatever the ink comes in contact with.”

As Siu’s professional journey has started fairly recently in 2021, she aspires to continue building upon her own style, as well as create a professional website to become a more established local artist in Edmonton. Printing on different materials and developing alternate ways to display her art is also in the works.

“I hope that more people will have the chance to get to know what printmaking is, and be able to appreciate printmaking or any aspect of it as an influential art form. If they ever have a chance to go to a workshop, I highly encourage them to try it out.”

Currently, Siu’s prints can be found at the Old Strathcona Art Emporium on Whyte Avenue and at local coffee shop Stopgap Coffee. Her creations can be found on Instagram @poiemaprints and a link to her portfolio is provided in the biography section.

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