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Nikki Barber_Ferry Boat_Woodcut on Monotype_2017.jpg
Image courtesy of Nikki Barber

Artist of the Week: Nikki Barber

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Nikki Barber: I fell in love with printmaking when I was at the University of Washington, but I have been creating 2-D works on paper since I was a kid. Sketching and woodworking are some other mediums I work with when I am not printing.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Printmaking! I am in love with the medium and all of its many techniques. Primarily, I work in relief printing, which includes woodcut and monotype printmaking techniques.I start the process with a real life experience and then sketch something from it. Next I work out which printmaking technique will best convey what I want from the image. Honestly, this part of the process takes the longest for me -- so many possibilities with where to take the idea. The last series of prints I exhibited focused on my artist residency in Chiang Mai, Thailand. For these I use plexiglass to blend ink and print the resulting colors onto paper. Then I carve a panel of wood, selectively roll ink onto the carving and print the resulting woodcut on top of the monotype.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from?
I make prints based off of real places I have been and real people that interact with those places. I've been teaching printmaking at the Seattle Artist League and have found myself wanting to experiment with techniques more. Something about having multiple minds in one location all geeking out on printmaking makes experimenting in something new really appealing and exciting.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best -- nature, food, profiles etc?
I am fascinated with the way humans shape environment. I love figuring out the interplay between natural landscapes (such as the sky or bodies of water) and structures that interact physically and visually like boats, buildings, and cranes.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I assisted Curt Labitzke (a local Seattle Artist) in 2014. He had given me one of the prints I helped him to make during that time. I have it framed and hung in my apartment. I see something new every time I look at it.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Interning at the Davidson Art Gallery was pretty key in my development. So many amazing prints by contemporary and deceased artists under one roof! Leonard Baskin, Kathe Kollwitz, Eunice Kim, Srijai Kuntawang, Lee Chul Soo -- I could go on for a long time here. I was able to see all the techniques I had learned perfected, transformed, and turned upside-down. It really helped me to see how powerful printmaking can be.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
I am currently working on several commissions and a new body of work that is still in its experimental stages that may be shown during Georgetown’s Art Attack at Plank Gallery in December.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?

A new body of work that is definitely exciting for me is in the works. I am blending together multiple woodblocks with drypoint and etchings made from beeswax hardground. It’s a little different, but I have been really excited with some of the preliminary results.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I am a big fan of drip coffee with a little almond milk or cream added.