Beth Hoeckel im Interview

Beth Hoeckel ist eine multidisziplinäre Künstlerin aus Baltimore. Ihren Bachelor of Fine Arts machte sie an der SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), wo sie sich in erster Linie auf Malerei, Fotografie und Druckgrafiken konzentrierte. New York City war zwei Jahre lang ihre Heimat, gefolgt von einem vierjährigen Aufenthalt in Los Angeles. Beth Hoeckel ist Vollzeit-Künstlerin und lebt mittlerweile wieder in Baltimore.
Aktuell ist sie im Buch „The Age of Collage“ vertreten, das im Gestalten Verlag erschien. In der gleichnamigen Ausstellung, die in Hamburg und Berlin gastierte, ist sie mit 30 verschiedenen Künstlern zu sehen.
Betrachtet man ihre Bilder, fragt man sich: Wie kamen diese Menschen in solch eine Situation und wie kommen sie da wieder raus? Was sehen sie in der Ferne, was ich nicht sehe? Und was verdammt nochmal hat es mit dem Mond auf sich? Das und mehr beantwortet uns nun Beth Hoeckel.

Beth Hoeckel, hi! And: why the moon? And why do the people turn their backs to us?
Beth Hoeckel: The moon has always fascinated me. It is so mysterious and distant, yet belongs to everyone. Every single person on earth can call the moon their own, but no one can claim ownership of it. It’s something we all share and can all marvel at every night.

How does a typical day look for Beth Hoeckel? Do you start off by cutting every newspaper lying around in search of a new motive or do you prefer to embrace the morning with a nice cup of coffee?
Beth Hoeckel: I was thinking about this recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no typical days for me. I really can’t predict what is going to happen or what it is going to be like. Sometimes I make detailed work plans that get all messed up, or I get distracted and start working on something random. Sometimes I have a lot of energy, or sometimes I have a hard time getting out of bed.

You studied in the „School of the Art Institute of Chicago“ (SAIC) and graduated in 2001. What happened next? Could you start to work as a freelance artist straight away? And were there times when you thought: I wish I had become a lawyer, a veterinarian or a excavator operator?
Beth Hoeckel: What happened next was unexpected. I spent the summer after graduation in Chicago, and a friend and I were planning to move to New York together in September. We left Chicago on September 10, and what happened the next day (9/11) derailed our plans. So I ended up staying with family in Baltimore for a few months. We did end up moving there in the end of December. It was a weird time to be there for sure. I was 22, and it was hard to find a job, I basically worked in restaurants and stores and odd jobs to pay the rent. It was nowhere near working as an artist. It was a constant struggle, but also the city is constant fun so I didn’t end up doing much artwork. I started a t-shirt company and designed screenprinted shirts, sold them to some stores and stuff. But I didn’t have the wherewithal or money to really take it seriously so I kinda gave up on it. I tried! I went out to LA for a trade show, and it was my first time on the west coast, and it was a dreary winter in New York so it seemed like paradise to me. Not long afterwards I decided to move there on a whim and stayed for 4 years. When I got there I also found it difficult to find a job and when I was in between boring retail jobs I would make lots of work. I made an “adult” coloring book, self published them (at kinkos haha) and sold them at a few stores and tried various other artistic endeavors that didn’t work out. So much trial and error. But I managed to create a body of work that I ended up selling most of at a gallery and that afforded me to move back east in 2008. Then it only got harder before it got better. I was in Baltimore applying for jobs in Philadelphia, but decided to stay in Baltimore after meeting a lot of cool people. Guess what- it’s also hard to find a job here. I applied for so many “art related” positions to no avail, so I ended up babysitting for a living. I was so bored and frustrated that I started posting my collages on tumblr and flickr. That’s where I started getting recognition. Even then I worked in a crappy Mexican restaurant up until 2 years ago. I realized after 10 years of scraping by and working jobs that meant nothing to me that it would just be this cycle of misery for the rest of my life unless I found a way to make art for a living. So I jumped on every single opportunity I could and that got me where I am today. I did it all by myself I am proud to say I have been self employed as an artist for 2 years now.

How would you describe your journey to making collages? What fascinates you about this technique?
Beth Hoeckel: The journey began with being broke. I got a lot of old magazines and books for free, and have always been really interested in vintage books and materials and old things in general so I went through them all obsessively and started tearing out everything that I liked. I just started playing around with it a lot and magical stuff started happening. I’ve been doing it ever since. I studied painting and drawing and printmaking in school, and still love those mediums, but also sometimes it would feel forced, where as collage comes very naturally to me. I love rearranging situations and creating new narratives out of old things.

Not long ago, your works were displayed along with other artists in „The Age of Collage“ in Hamburg and in „Gestalten Space“ in Berlin. Do you know where the exhibition will be displayed next? Or is the show finished?
Beth Hoeckel
As far as I know it’s just those 2 cities. But originally it was only Berlin, then they decided to travel to Hamburg, so maybe there will be somewhere else next!

Where do the ideas for a piece of art come from? Do you visualize a certain situation from the beginning or does the collage unfold itself in the process?
Beth Hoeckel: No, not at all. Completely the opposite. It’s all about solving the puzzle through intuition. That is the whole process.

And how do you proceed? Do you collect newspapers and magazines by the pile and then cut and glue everything manually? Or are the digital pixel-scissors employed?
Beth Hoeckel: I have a huge collection of books and magazines. I have almost every National Geographic from 1940’s-1970’s. I do cut and paste everything manually. I’ve tried to do a little bit of digital stuff and it just isn’t me. It doesn’t feel right for me.

When do you know that a collage is finished?
Beth Hoeckel: I just know! That’s part of the magic and the fun. It’s really 100% intuitive. It has to be just right, it can’t be just throwing stuff together that looks cool. It has to have feeling and I put feeling into it and I know when it’s going to work and if it’s not working, I move on. I don’t force anything.

Do you sell your work anywhere?
Beth Hoeckel: Yes I started a couple of online shops for prints – this one is all limited edition signed prints: bethhoeckel.bigcartel.com, and this one has prints of all sizes and lots of other cool products: society6.com/BethHoeckelCollage. I also had an etsy shop where I sold collages on vintage book covers but they sold out. People contact me through my website with inquiries about buying other originals. Occasionally I sell stuff through gallery shows too.

What’s next? Is a new project already planed?
Beth Hoeckel: So much work. I am keeping busy!

Mehr zu Beth Hoeckel findet ihr auf ihrer Webseite.

Das Buch „The Age of Collage“, in dem Beth Hoeckel aktuell auch mit ihren Arbeiten zu sehen ist, bekommst du hier.

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