Interview: Caitlin Metz on Design, Making Zines, and Explorations of Gender

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Today's interview is with the lovely Caitlin Metz, an artist, designer, printer, book and zine creator, and a teacher. In their own words, they believes in 'community, collaboration and a generous exchange of knowledge' and that 'art should be accessible, touchable, and should exist outside of galleries whenever possible'. Like the sound of that? Read on to find out more about Caitlin's wonderful projects and feelings towards being creative.

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Caitlin! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, do you want to tell me a little about yourself and where you are today?

Caitlin Metz:
I am a tender queer, feisty introvert, early art making kind of human that wants to fuck shit up with empathy. I’m a designer, letterpress printer, maker of books and zines, and newly a teacher(!!!). (That’s the shiny part, I also work part-time as a household manager, and babysit to pay my bills, and I cry a lot about feeling like a fraud). My work tends to revolve around gender/sexuality, mental health, the female form, and seeing/being seen. All I want to do is hold space for people to not feel alone. I want to make work that is healing, that holds space, that questions established ways of being, that is full of tenderness and spunk. Most my work revolves around my personal experience and self portraiture. I explore ideas of multiplicity and identity. Being in your body and seeing yourself.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your overall art style in three words, what would they be?

Caitlin Metz:
moody | empathetic | ephemeral

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into art and design? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby? If you did study it formally, would you say this was a good or bad experience regarding allowing your creativity to flourish?

Caitlin Metz:
I’ve always been drawing and making things since I can remember, but my first real art class was my freshman year in college. I have my BFA in graphic design, and MFA in visual art. It was exactly what I needed. But I’ll be paying it off for the rest of forever, and I don’t think this path is for everyone. The internet and the world offer as much or more education than school often does. I think formal training works best when you are able to understand the flaws of the system and when you can advocate for yourself; take what serves you and leave the rest. School gave me the structure and confidence I needed to trust myself. I flourish in the classroom, I’m now teaching in the same rooms where I first learned and it’s pure magic. I get such a rush from it. I also believe in holding space for other ways of being. When I was in college I had an instructor tell me that I’d never be able to get a job. Thankfully I had another instructor championing for me, and I believed her instead. I want to show up for my students and work to dismantle the idea that there is only one way to learn and grow and be. That success is not linear.


Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Caitlin Metz:
Kate Bingaman Burt, Marina Abramovic, Louise Bourgeois. I’m constantly obsessing over these three.

I idolize everything about Kate’s work, her studio practice and academic practice, her energy and light. Marina always makes me want to stand a little taller, work a little harder, be a little better. And Louise. I cry. I feel seen. I believe in art, life, and the struggle when I look at her work.

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Caitlin Metz:
I love my ongoing series of blind contour portraits, I love how simple the are, how it requires me to check in with myself, and the way it has allowed me to connect with others. The concept is a single line, drawn without looking at the paper. You are completely present with your subject, whether it’s your reflection in the mirror, a photograph or another person sitting in front of you. It’s a vulnerable act as you never know what the outcome will be. It requires stillness and presence. It’s often quite absurd. And I love it. I do them as commissioned portraits, as a form of self care, and as a performance piece where anyone can sit in front of me and together we hold space, looking into each others eyes while I draw trace the lines of their face. (you can see some of my self portraits on Instagram under the hashtag #caitlindrawsblindlines)


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to?

Caitlin Metz:
I’ve just started a practice of dancing at the start of my studio day. I put on loud music and move and shake and bounce until I get out of my critical mind and into this soft body of knowledge and power. I’m so inspired by the dance practices of Marlee GraceEv'yan Whitney and Ani Lee, as methods of self care, ways of being, and an awakening of the erotic self.

I either listen to techno or rain sounds when I’m working, depending on my mood. And I need hot tea and snacks. My studio table is always covered in dirty tea mugs and crumbs. I’m usually pretty tidy except in my work space. It’s always a mess.

Magic & Musings:
Your dancing at the start of the day sounds fantastic and reminds me of the practice of Qoya.

What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Caitlin Metz:
Honestly? Lay on the couch, cry, eat twizzlers, drink whiskey and watch Grey's Anatomy. My creativity IS my identity in so many ways, so when I’m struggling to make work I feel like a complete failure. When that happens I need to go outside and breathe. Look at the clouds. Remember that my worth is intrinsic. Get grounded with the earth. Almost every time I get stuck it’s because I’m procrastinating or have over-committed, probably both. In either case time spent in nature is the cure. And leaving it the fuck alone for a few days. Fresh eyes are crucial to climbing out of a creative rut.


Magic & Musings:
Is there another medium you would like to explore working in next?

Caitlin Metz:
Papermaking and sculpture! I spent a summer learning the very beginning techniques of papermaking and I’m hooked. I cannot wait to make more. I really like the intersection of paper and sculpture, integrating objects into the paper, and the paper around objects.

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Caitlin Metz:
Make more work. Give less fucks.


Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Caitlin Metz:
I’m in the middle of rereading the Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna, it’s a simple but profound read about choosing your path and being present with yourself and your desires, and shutting down the voices of society/religion/culture telling you that you must be a certain way.

Listening to Sufjan Stevens’ latest album on repeat.

I haven’t seen a film in a forever, but I can recommend my favorite podcast, Have Company with Marlee Grace; it’s pure gold.

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Caitlin Metz:
Stay tender. Stay nasty. xo!

You can find me over sharing my feelings on Instagram and sporadically posting work in progress on Tumblr. I also have a website that is somehow always outdated, and an Etsy shop.


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