Allison Wightman
BFA in Print Paper Book
Assistant Printer at Landfall Press

What do you currently do for a living?

I am an assistant printer at Landfall Press in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Printmaking at our studio (primarily lithography) is a collaborative process between the visiting artist and the printer. Whether the concerns of the individual artist include narrative, abstraction, realism, concept, or performance, the process of making requires the technical skills of the printer. My responsibility as an artist has changed in that the work I'm making is not my own, but I am the key figure in technically producing the pieces. 

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The artists and work I have been exposed to in the studio. We recently completed a project with Christo that was extremely challenging and very different from the work we usually do. It was so sweet to work on a project for an artist that I had learned about in school.
Going through the studio's archives is another really awesome part of my job. It's a great way for me to get to know the history of the studio I am working for and appreciate their place in the world of printmaking. I have been cataloging a lot of the studio's older projects and I have come across pieces by a ton of my favorite printers like Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Sam Francis.  

Why did you choose your major and what were your major classes like?

When I came to MCAD, my plan was to major in photography. Before officially declaring my major I took a screenprinting class and ended up changing my major within a week. At the time, it seemed like a huge deal to switch my major. I had been doing photography for years before coming to MCAD and was definitely scared to change my path. But I was completely seduced by the printmaking facilities and the department. To this day, I'm so stoked that I changed my major and tried something that was completely new to me.
The great thing about MCAD is that no matter what you major in, you can branch out and try anything you want. Even though I majored in print paper book, I spent a ton of time using the darkrooms and the 3D shop. 

Favorite place on campus? Off campus?

On campus: the deck on the second floor, especially when it's SNOWING. Off campus: the beach under stone arch bridge, especially when it's SNOWING. 

Did MCAD prepare you for life after graduation?

MCAD prepared me to work my tail off and love every minute of it.

My job can be pretty stressful. I am being trained to be able to execute any project that is put in front of me. While the challenge is huge, the payoff is pretty sweet. A big part of my job is getting to know the medium that I am working in. As my technical skills improve, my understanding of the capabilities of lithography is growing. It is SO COOL and rewarding to see so many different artists' visions come to life. MCAD definitely prepared me to keep my cool and enjoy the hard work that I have to put into every project. I've learned to be proud of my accomplishments and use my mistakes as an opportunity to do better. 

What was your experience with MCAD's facilities? 

The facilities at MCAD are incredible. Use them. All of them. Don't limit yourself to whatever your major is. You will rarely be in a situation after you graduate where you have a 3D shop, darkrooms, printmaking facilities, access anything you want to learn about, all in one building. Giving yourself exposure to other mediums, techniques, and other artists will only help you further your own work.

Did you have a personal studio? 

The personal studios at MCAD are great! Ask anyone and most of them will tell you they spend more time in their studios than at their own houses. Having a studio to spend time in when you're not in class is really important. The talks, discussions, even fights I had in these spaces with my fellow students taught me just as much as I learned in the classroom.

How do you find inspiration when you are feeling stuck?

My biggest inspiration is nature. I live in a really weird part of the country where I am surrounded by a variety of landscapes. Exploring in any way I can whether it's hiking, camping, rock climbing, or snowboarding gets me super stoked and clears my head of any clutter or worries. Santa Fe also gets over 300 days of sunshine every year, which seriously rules. 

What advice do you have for art and design students?

Try EVERYTHING. Seriously. DO IT. 

Also, speak up in critique! There is nothing worse than sitting through a critique where no one is really saying anything, and then going out on the deck during break and hearing everyone blah blah blah about everything they should have been saying during the critique. This is one time in life when keeping your mouth shut is not a good thing. 

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

My kickass work ethic for sure!