Combining humor, satire and sensitivity through printmaking

COURTESY // Zoe Brester-Pennings

Bringing a unique twist to traditional art, 23-year-old Zoe Brester-Pennings shows us a style of artwork many are not familiar with. Brester-Pennings finds her passion in a different style of artwork called printmaking.

“Printmaking is transferring an image through any sort of media, through wood, or intaglio, which is carving something out,” said Pennings. “There’s also screen printing and lithography, there’s a lot of different variations to print making. It’s very complex.”

Before transferring to Sonoma State University, Brester-Pennings dedicated her last four years tostudying at Santa Rosa Junior College. Her hometown, Healdsburg, serves as a convenient commute to both campuses, but she decided to transfer to further her art education. 

Naturally, Brester-Pennings is majoring in art studio with an emphasis in printmaking. 

Bester-Pennings commented on the fact that the art of printmaking holds a lot of history behind it. It has been used to make books for many centuries, and any sort of media such as posters, flyers and more.

Brester-Pennings has not always been a printmaking fanatic. Her love for printmaking began last fall when she enrolled in an intermediate etching and wood class at Sonoma State. Before printmaking, Brester-Pennings enjoyed painting and drawing.

“Printmaking is essentially like drawing,” said Pennings. “If you can draw, then you can do printmaking.”

Brester-Pennings thoroughly enjoys the uniqueness that printmaking brings to the table. 

“With print, you can make additions and you can print multiples of somethingyou’ve created, instead of drawing just one piece,” said Brester-Pennings. 

She also gained inspiration to pursue printmaking during a presentation by “Drive by Press,” a printmaking studio based out of New York. Their demonstration of the use of a press and how to make wood cuts really caught her eye.

Brester-Pennings exudes a sense of excitement and pure passion when she discusses aspects relating to her artwork. One can tell this is something she really enjoys. 

When asked what messages she tries to portray through her art, Brester-Pennings commented that the best way to describe her style of art is “satirical.” Her art is humorous and her attitude towards things is shown throughout her work. 

“Zoe knows how to combine both humor and sensitivity in a very sophisticated way in her art,” said Tyler Rosales, a fellow art student and friend.

What is unique about Brester-Pennings isshe does not look towards other artists so much for inspiration as she does her environment, surroundings and everyday life experiences. One artistBrester-Pennings admires is Chuck Close, a photorealist who believes “inspiration is for amateurs.”

Brester-Pennings began creating art in her early childhood, after being exposed to comic books and copying drawings that stood out to her while reading through them. She explained that she simply just “had a knack for it.” 

She was fortunate enough to be raised by two extremely supportive and encouraging parents, who to this day are behind her in whatever decision she decides to make regarding her passion for art.

“I am constantly in awe of her,” said her father William Pennings.

In 10 years, Brester-Pennings sees herself living in Chicago or Portland, teaching art at a high school or college level, while still managingto continue creating and selling art of her own. Somethingshe hopes to accomplish is to make enough money off selling her art so she can support a comfortable lifestyle. 

Brester-Pennings made sure to stress art is not an easy major like most people tend to assume. It takes just as much work ethic and preparation as any other time consuming major does. She spends a lot of long days and nights in the art department, which confirms the amount of dedication required to stay ahead within the competitive art world.

Brester-Pennings described the art department as a small community and a small family. 

“Everyone is really close with each other, but you kind of have your cliques,” said Brester-Pennings. “You have the 3D people, the sculpture people, painters and printmakers. Painters and printmakers don’t always get along.”

Brester-Pennings loves working in her studio and has a hammock that she sets up outside when she wants to relax and get a bit of fresh air, or just to catch up on some reading.

COURTESY // Zoe Brester-Pennings