Studio Visit: The Butcher Press

Posted by Chad Anglin on

Katy Yeaw is the adorable woman behind the design and print workshop - The Butcher Press. Located here in sunny San Diego, The Butcher Press specializes in limited edition screen printed art work. We first met Katy when we invited her to hang her prints on Pigment's walls about a year ago. Like many others, we were mesmerized by Katy's fun and fancy free screen prints featuring wonderful illustrations of everything from bears to airplanes. We recently caught up with her at her amazingly curated North Park home to chat about her work.

Katy welcomes us into her darling abode.

Katy's book collection mixed in with various pieces of her work.

Q: Hi Katy!  We’re big fans of your prints and are excited to learn more about how you ended up doing what you do. Tell us how you got started.

A: Well, I went to college for science and then I switched to art, because science wasn’t doing it for me.

Q: That’s a huge switch!

A: I know! Well, I always loved art, but I didn’t know about it at first. I ended up going to a more science-oriented college, but they had a tiny art department, which ended up being wonderful because they were very attentive. My junior year I went to Italy for a year and that’s where I learned how to do printmaking, mostly etching. And that’s when I got really hooked on printmaking. When I got back to school I just focused on that.

Q: What’d you do after college?

A: After college I went to the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland and just did a year of printmaking, so I learned all the other kinds of printmaking: silk screening, lithography, etching…all the hits.

Q: What made you pick Scotland?

A: Well, they had a printmaking program, which is rare. And, I was just always drawn to Scotland. It was great

Q: So what did you do when you came back?

A: When I got back to Pennsylvania (Yeaw’s hometown), I got a job at this place called Durham Press, which is where I would say I learned about 98 percent of everything that I know. I learned more there than school, more than anything, because they are a contemporary printmaking studio.

Q: How long did you stay there?

A: I worked there a little over three years. While I was there I started doing screen prints and I started printing posters for local Philadelphia bands. That was really fun and a great way to learn, but not a great way to make money because bands don’t pay you other than drink tickets and getting on guest lists. But that was great practice. Eventually I evolved into doing my own illustrations and turning them into silk screens. That’s pretty much my medium.

Q:  When did you start working under the name 'The Butcher Press'?

A: That name started when I was printing band posters. It was named after one of the first prints that I ever did, which was of a little butcher.

Katy shows us her first-ever print...a butcher! 

Q: How do you share your prints with the world these days?

A: Here in San Diego there are two great shops that have my work hanging. One is Vocabulary in Little Italy and the other is So Childish in South Park. They have prints that are more geared towards kids. Occasionally I’ll do an arts festival, which is great to meet people. Also, I sell all my prints on my website, and an Etsy shop that has t-shirts (both kids and adults) and some of my lower priced prints.

Q: How about different editions, how do those work?

A: I always keep my editions small. The max I’ve ever done is an edition of 40, but usually they’re around 25 to 30. And once they’re sold out I never print them again, because that kind of defeats the purpose of buying a limited edition print. I really want to keep the editions small so that a.) It feels more special and b.) So that it’s not oversaturated and it helps me make more stuff when it sells out.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your prints?

A: Everywhere! I have a fascination with machinery and animals. I started a little series of animal prints and that just kind of took off on its own tangent. When my daughter was born, I started doing more things that I could picture in kids rooms. The idea of growing up and just seeing the same art every day really does have a profound impression.

Katy hanging out in Penelope's nursery with one of her prints and a custom Butcher Press linen flag banner.

Katy points out a sweet power animal print she did awhile back that now hangs in her kitchen.

Q: Do you print on anything else besides paper?

A: You can silkscreen on pretty much anything. Fabric is fun. I started making some little tea towels recently so we’ll see where that goes.

Q: Are you always looking for more outlets for your work?

A: Definitely, but it’s hard to market yourself. I’m no marketer. I’d love to be in some more stores up north and more stores in different neighborhoods down here.

Q: How do you work out the business side of 'The Butcher Press'? Does that come easy for you?

A: It’s very hard. I don’t really work with both sides of my brain. I don’t have the business brain. Jose, my husband, is really good at it and he helps me a lot. I am pretty indecisive, so he helps with that. He’s a software engineer, so we’re a great team.

Katy's flat files are full of awesome prints!

Katy stands proudly in her garage-turned-studio.

Katy's work station with all her screen printing tools.

Katy was kind enough to show us the screen printing process. It was like screen-printing for dummies.

Katy carefully creates her screen print.

Q: Are you constantly collecting screen prints from other artists?

A: Yeah, screen-printing is definitely my favorite medium.

Q: Have you made friendships with other screen printers?

A: When I find someone whose stuff I really love I write them an email. I just write to tell them there stuff is really cool. And sometimes that turns into a correspondence. That happened with a great girl in Vermont, her stuff is called Scout’s Honor, and we just started emailing back and forth. She sent me a print then I sent her a print and she put it on her blog and it’s been really cool.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: Well, next up is going to be a Vespa print. I was commissioned to do that. Then it is going to be an outer space print, which is probably going to be like a moon rover or something. I haven’t decided yet.

A big thanks to Katy for welcoming us into her home/studio.

If you love her prints as much as we do, check out some of her limited edition prints on our online shop.

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