Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mizu Designs ... Australia

Name: Kylie Budge
Business: Mizu Designs
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Web site: and

What do you make?
I make Japanese style woodblock prints and cards. The Japanese printmaking technique differs from many styles used in the West in that it uses watercolour inks and a small disc covered in a bamboo leaf called a 'baren' as the press. No big machines or smelly toxic chemicals! I also like the way watercolour inks give a gentle, soft feeling to the finished print.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
I squeeze my printmaking in any time I can. Mostly it's weekends because I'm employed at a university during the week. I have a room in my house where I work. I'd love to have a proper studio space one day. Daylight hours are best for printmaking because of the light. It's really hard carving tiny lines into a woodblock at night. I do this sometimes when I'm working to a deadline but it's not kind on the eyes and will make me a blind woman before my time! Mornings are good and it's when my energy is high. I've realised over the years that I can't carve blocks or print all day long - it's tough on my arms and shoulders. I need to switch between designing, carving and printing so I don't exhaust myself. It's a very physical art form.

Do you have another "day job?
Oh how I wish I didn't have a day job and could be a fulltime printmaker! I really admire those who have the courage (or finances) to do just that. I have a very respectable full-time day job which I enjoy but doing this and being a printmaker sometimes feel like I am two different people in the onebody. I feel quite split at times.

Where and what did you study?
The split I feel between my current paid profession in education and fine art first became an issue when I finished high school. At 17 I was faced with making a choice between accepting a place at art school or becoming a teacher. I chose the latter and have been torn ever since. I have a Masters Degree in Education and other qualifications in linguistics education. I moved to Japan in 1998 and worked as a teacher at a university there. At the same time I began studying woodblock printing or 'moku hanga' with a Japanese artist. I lived there for 7 years and studied printmaking the whole time while keeping my day job in teaching to finance my life there.

What inspires you and what motivates you?
I'm continuously inspired by nature and everything about the natural world. I love indigenous Australian plant life and the experience of living on such a hot, dry ancient continent. I love the extremes of weather we have here and the incredibly varied environment of such a vast, open country.

I'm also inspired by Japan - the old and lovely aspects mostly. After so many years of living there the Japanese aesthetic has permeated my being.

When did you start doing this?
I began printmaking in high school. I remember playing around with silk screens and chemicals and printing onto fabric. I went through this stage at school of making lots of handprinted fabric and then sewing it into wacky clothing creations for my family members. They had no choice about this as I often gave these creations as presents at Christmas. My mum was always very gracious in how she received these gifts. They were probably quite hideous but she was always supportive of what I made.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I've only just started my online shop. Friends have been nagging me to do this for ages. I've sold prints and cards at exhibitions in Kyoto and that motivated me to do something when I returned to Australia. An online shop is such a wonderful way of reaching out to people I wouldn't normally come across. I've even sold one of my cards to a man in Sweden!

How did you choose the name for your business?
My design name, 'Mizu', means water in Japanese. For me, water signifies life and the very essence of all things. I use watercolour inks because they are an integral part of the Japanese process of printmaking, and so the name flowed from there.

What do you love most about doing your work?
If a print is going well and I like what I see at the end of the process then it's very satisfying. Woodblock printing is an incredibly time consuming art form. The carving of blocks (one block per colour) can take a very long time to complete. During this part of the process it's very hard to know whether the design is going to work. It's not until you do a trial print that you get an idea of if it's all going to come together. I think that's why I find the actual printing part the most satisfying. It's quite a build up to this point, and then suddenly, like magic, you get to see an image on paper!

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
That's such a hard question to answer! I loved traveling in Cambodia but also in Vietnam - I've been there twice now. I adore Sapa, a small village in the mountains of north-west Vietnam near the Chinese border. Australians love Asia. It's so close it's in our blood.

A book you love:
What I Loved, a novel by Siri Hustvedt. Also Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty.

What's the most interesting thing about you?
That I grew up in such a small country town in northern Australia, yet have been able to experience life in so many amazing places, including my seven-year adventure in Japan.

What achievement are you most proud of?
Staying calm while being stranded on a small Thai island during the tsunami in 2004. I was surrounded by chaos and a great deal of fear, but somehow I didn't let it overwhelm me. I was deeply impressed by the Thais on the island and how they handled that disaster. I think their centred, balanced but caring way of dealing with that difficult time may have rubbed off onto me.

What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Here a few thoughts – be courageous, talk to other people who are doing what you'd like to do, ask lots of questions, don't be too shy, be a little outrageous, and have a go – life is so short.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Working alone can be hard at times. It's easy to let the negative voices take over when you're having a bad day and a design isn't working out. The internet is the best thing ever for networking and talking to other printmakers or artists about ideas or techniques. There are many many artists online now and some wonderful creative communities to engage with.

What do you love to do in your free time?
I love the bush so I go hiking and camping when I can. Being outdoors is really important for me to feel balanced after spending lots of time inside working. If I can't get away to go camping I love walking around my neighbourhood, going for a picnic somewhere or pottering around in my garden.

What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a small print for a collaborative print project that a woman in the US is organising. I also have a few other prints that I'm working on, some big, some small. I'm always formulating designs in my sketchbook.

What do you hope to achieve next?
I'd like to organise an exhibition of my prints in Australia. I've been meaning to do this since I got back here but time has slipped away. That would be a really nice thing to do.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous insight into another Melbourne artist - very cool, and I totally love Kylie's work... she's amazing! :)