As a print artist, Montauk is her muse
Alison Seiffer is an award winning illustrator and print artist based in Montauk whose work and distinct style is, frankly, undeniably cool. Her rich coloring and creative depictions of Hamptons surf culture and more make for a rich collection of prints that one would be proud to hang on their wall. Designer and owner of MTKPOSTER.com, her illustration work has been featured in many prominent publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and now, Hamptons Monthly. We had the privilege of speaking with Alison recently about topics ranging from her experience living in Montauk to her work process and plans for the rest of summer.
As an illustrator, inspiration usually comes in the form of copy that is sent to me by an art director. I read the story, make sketches and do the drawing with shapes and figures that come out of my head. What inspires me in Montauk, are the shapes. The forms of clams and rocks and surfboards and sea weed. As a print artist, I want to make larger images with the forms that I love in Montauk. I moved here 22 years ago from NYC. I married a surfer and he brought me to Montauk. I know it’s been said by more than a few artists but the light here is so bright and interesting. Light and color also inspire me.
What is print art; can you describe the process you use to create your pieces?
Printing is a means of getting the image o screen and onto the wall. I have always been
a print artist, even when I was painting, the final art as an illustrator, is almost always printed. I work with an iMac and a Wacom tablet which allows me to draw with a pen tool while looking at the monitor. The final print is made on a large format inkjet printer used by artists as well as photographers.
How did you choose illustration as your medium, and how do you think it compares to other styles artists use to depict East End life?
I didn’t choose illustration actually at first, it kind of chose me. As a kid, I applied to art colleges hoping to get into graphic design or fine art. My choice of school, Parsons School of Design, accepted me as an illustration major. A very big part of the job of being an editorial illustrator is coming up with a visual concept. I am given some copy or sometimes just a headline or less if the article hasn’t been written yet and asked to come up with an idea or create an image. I am very grateful to have had this experience in the editorial realm because it really can be challenging and forces one to bend in ways that in the long run sharpen your skills. Having said all that, I’ve always wanted to make posters! I wanted to work bigger and I wanted to work “off script” with subject matter that I don’t get to work with editorially. I’m not sure how my work compares to other artists’ styles on the East End. Being that I’m an illustrator, my works bend toward a representational point of view that I hope to be both simple and memorable.
When did you first develop the framework for what would become MTK Poster?
A friend and surfer, Roger Feit, invited me to create a poster for the 16th annual Rell Sunn Surf Contest in Ditch Plains. I really loved the process of making that poster and decided to make more. It just started going from
there. I’ve done two posters for them and I am presently working on Rell Sunn 18 as well as a few more posters for MTKPoster.
Your work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Popular Science, Consumer Reports and The Wall Street Journal, often times as a satirical remark on the world we live in. With your Montauk print series, is there a statement you’re intending to make to the viewer?
My only intent at this time is to show appreciation and respect for the lifestyle and beauty of this small part of the world. Some have described my work as being subversive and I agree with that.
Are most of the prints developed o of observations and ideas or, do you have a connection or background in surfing or other water sports?
The prints are based on things I see everyday, the people I know and my own personal experiences. I enjoy paddle boarding and kayaking and sh whenever I can find the time. My daughter is surfing now so I want to impress her.
Is there a new motif you’re thinking of introducing?
I would like to make more images based on still life type subjects.