Our monthly staff feature series highlights the diverse pursuits and hobbies of our studio members outside of the office. As an office, we believe that making time for our personal interests and activities re-energizes us, provides us with new perspectives and knowledge, and ultimately enriches our work as an architecture design studio.
Quinn Lammie is an Associate at MBB Architects. He joined in the firm in 2014 and has worked on education and institutional projects such as Park Avenue Synagogue. He recently took some time to tell us more about his printmaking work. Below is an edited version of the interview.
Tell me about how you got started printmaking.
I started four years ago on a whim. I just thought I wanted to make something, so I figured I would try printmaking. I went down to the art store, and just picked up some wood, picked up some carving tools, and bought some ink. At the time, I didn’t even know what kind of ink I needed. And then I thought, “what should I carve? Something easy – an octopus!” which was not easy.
Anyway, I like making stuff and art. Going from having a wood shop when you’re in grad school or undergrad and you then miss not being able to make things like that in an apartment anymore. Doing printmaking now scratches that manual, craft-making itch.
What kind of printmaking do you do?
I’m mainly doing block printmaking with either a woodblock or linoleum block. I carve it and then I can have multiple blocks to make a multi–colored print.
For monoprints which is something you print just once, I’ve used paper cut outs or different textures layered on plexiglass or an acrylic plate. For the first class that I took, I actually used the MBB laser cutter quite a bit to quickly cut out one–time use pieces of cardstock of quick little CAD drawings. So I did a little architecture series with that which was nice.
I jump around all the time with subject matter and techniques. When I was in the Cayman Islands, I found a piece of fan coral on the beach, so I inked that up and made a print that way.
Do you create pieces when you’re inspired or do you try to carve out consistent time for it?
Probably more the inspired part, although it takes a good amount of time to carve a block. It takes a whole week or a couple weeks to actually get it to where you’re able to print it, so there’s not that immediate satisfaction. You have to really plan it out, but I’m pretty indecisive sometimes. Eventually I just have to bite the bullet and commit to something whether I am that inspired or not. In the end, I tell myself that I’m inspired to make what I’ve decided on.
Does printmaking give you any perspective on the design work you do at MBB or architecture in general?
I think indirectly. It’s about distillation. So if there’s a subject matter that I want to print, I’m not going to make 14 blocks to get all the colors or all the details I want. So how do you distill an image into the parts that really matter? How do you really reinforce the concept without doing too much? How can you do a lot with a little? I think we do something similar in architecture. It’s about how you select the important elements and distill your concept into those key pieces and moments that have the most impact.