Behind the Curtain at Papirmasse

Remember Papirmasse, and how I’m obsessed with it? Well I was lucky enough to catch up with Papirmasse founder Kirsten McCrea. She’s a Montréal/Toronto based artist and illustrator, and she’s wicked cool too.

You think everyone deserves art. Why?
Yeah, I run Papirmasse, an affordable art subscription that sends a monthly art print (with writing on the back!) to people around the world for $5 a month. We want everyone to have art. We’re waging a war against blank walls.

Why should artists want to be featured on Papirmasse?
Well, at this point we reach about 4,000 people a month through our subscribers, newsletter, and social media sites, so it’s great exposure for your work. If you share our ethos of making art affordable and spreading it far and wide throughout the world then it’s a fun project to participate in. And we’ve got subscribers in 20 countries now; it’s pretty rad realizing that something you made is being hung on a walls in Turkey, Brazil, Australia…

I hope people who are otherwise too busy, broke, or live far away from galleries are getting to interact with contemporary art and writing on a regular basis.” 

One of our subscribers told me that he doesn’t open his prints right away. He saves them until he’s having a bad day and then opens one as a way to cheer himself up. That’s so awesome. I hope that by getting a new print in the mail every month that people are feeling more empowered to have opinions about what art they like and don’t like. I hope that they are giving prints away as gifts and hanging their favorites and are putting art up in unexpected places.

Who’s your dream contributor for Papirmasse? (great white buffalo)
DAVID CHOE!!!!!!!!

Who inspires you?
I spent a ton of the last year working in collectives and collaborating with other people, and have been so inspired by all the amazing artists I’ve been able to share a wall with. Big shout outs to my friends at En Masse and Cease, and of course all the contributors to Papirmasse.

Tell me something you learned from a piece of art.
Janet Cardiff’s 40-Part Motet is the most beautiful piece of art I’ve ever seen. People in the gallery were crying. She set up recorders in front of each person in a choir and then presented the piece by setting up 40 speakers around a room. As you walk around the room you can listen to the recording of each person individually, or you can stand in the middle and hear the entire choir together. It’s about the beauty of the individual and the power of the collective, and I think that it taught me how art can be subtle and powerful at the same time.

Best advice ever received?
From my favorite art teacher, Lee Plotek: If you want to be an artist, don’t get a real job after art school. Go and get a shit job that pays okay and doesn’t take all your energy, and spend your time painting, painting, painting (or whatever medium you do). You need to get together a solid body of work and the stuff you made in school won’t cut it.

After art school I moved back to Edmonton (my hometown), lived at home for 8 months, worked a day job and a night job almost every day, saved up a chunk of cash, and then went back to Montreal to give this whole artist thing a try. I’ve been making art as my only job for 3 years now! The first year was okay, the second year was really hard (because I had run out of savings), and the third year was incredible. It’s hard at the beginning but if you can make it through that initial tough period it gets a lot easier.

Write me a haiku.
That man in white truck
See how he stares at us now
He creeps us both out
(I actually wrote that haiku about 10 years ago with my friend Karen. I can’t believe I still remember it.)

Favorite place?
In the middle of a crowd at a really good concert.

Best advice ever received?
From my favorite art teacher, Lee Plotek: If you want to be an artist, don’t get a real job after art school. Go and get a shit job that pays okay and doesn’t take all your energy, and spend your time painting, painting, painting (or whatever medium you do). You need to get together a solid body of work and the stuff you made in school won’t cut it.

After art school I moved back to Edmonton (my hometown), lived at home for 8 months, worked a day job and a night job almost every day, saved up a chunk of cash, and then went back to Montreal to give this whole artist thing a try. I’ve been making art as my only job for 3 years now! The first year was okay, the second year was really hard (because I had run out of savings), and the third year was incredible. It’s hard at the beginning but if you can make it through that initial tough period it gets a lot easier.

Tell me a story.
When I was 3 years old I was at a very busy restaurant with my parents and said I had to go to the bathroom. Then I insisted that I didn’t need their help and wanted to go on my own (and they let me!). Apparently about 5 minutes later I came out of the washroom with my pants around my ankles and yelled “Daddy! I can’t pull my pants up!” I got the attention of the whole room.

Something only your mother knows about.
My family calls me Kirsty. Yep. And they even picked Kirsten specifically because it’s a name without a diminutive – and then made one up.

Anything else you’d like to confess?
Hell no! I’ve confessed way too much already.

No worries Kirsten – I still think you’re awesome!

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This entry was published on March 21, 2012 at 20:41. It’s filed under In Praise Of..., Look and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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