Next Door: Inside the Art of Printmaking with Ferndale-based artist Cara Lazare

Cara Lazare sells her work at pop-up events throughout the city.

For Lazare, 29, printing is an almost Zen-like activity where she can foster the highly detail-oriented process in question.

Cara Lazare calls printmaking “very meditative.”

“I can get lost in the carving process,” says the Ferndale-based Jewish artist, who specializes in printmaking. “I don’t have to think about the outside world.”

For Lazare, 29, printing is an almost Zen-like activity where she can foster the highly detail-oriented process in question. A lifelong artist, Lazare grew up drawing and was inspired by her mother (also a lifelong artist) to become creative.

“I was the kid who drew in the margins of the paper instead of writing notes,” Lazare recalls.

By the time she was old enough to attend Central Michigan University, Lazare knew she wanted to pursue art as her career. “I started as a painting student,” she says. “Then I took an introductory printmaking class in college and was hooked.”

Instead of painting, Lazare spent his days in print studios. She even became a press assistant for her professor at the time. “I haven’t looked back,” she says of the art form.

Now, Lazare sells her prints all over Metro Detroit. She can be found at various pop-ups and art events, where she sells items like bookmarks with repeating blocks or durable lands embossed with her handmade prints.

Flowers are a source of her inspiration.
Flowers are a source of her inspiration.

An organic style

While her designs appear almost geometric in nature, Lazare says they are far from symmetrical. “There’s this organic aspect to it,” she says of her process. “Everything is drawn freehand. There are things that are a little bit different than others, which I really like because they’re not all perfect.”

She calls her style simple, even though her work is very detailed. “I love the simplicity of black in a neutral tone,” she explains. “I like quiet, nothing too extravagant.”

Printing involves several steps that Lazare completes over a period of time. She always carries a notebook with her, which she will sketch when she is inspired. “I start with a lot of intuitive drawings,” she explains. “If it’s something I really like, I’ll go back and redraw that drawing on my linoleum pad.”

To find inspiration, Lazare often turns to architecture. “I like the repetitive aspects,” she says. “A lot of times there are geometric styles and there are organic styles, so I definitely embrace that.” She is also inspired by flowers and anything with a “very good pattern”.

Examples of Cara Lazare's printed work.
Examples of Cara Lazare’s printed work.

After her sketch is redrawn on a linoleum block, she will begin the carving process, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days or weeks. “When it’s finally done, I’ll roll ink on it, put it on a piece of paper and run it through my press,” says Lazare.

If the work is satisfactory, then she will create a print edition. However, it is not always on the first try.

“If I carve something and mess it up, I can’t go back,” she explains. “Trying to figure out the best way to get a clean print can also be frustrating. It’s not always going to be perfect right away, so it takes time.”

A surprise with every print

Lazare usually works with a small press, which is more modern, but some presses are of the older variety and require more manual work or troubleshooting. “Each of them has benefits and problems,” she says of the different printers.

Often, Lazare prints by hand to get the desired result. “I use pressure from my hand, which can be considered an older method of printing,” she explains. “If I have a big enough piece, I’ll even step on it to get enough pressure. That’s always fun.”

Examples of Cara Lazare's printed work.
Examples of Cara Lazare’s printed work.

The best part of printing, she says, is what comes out of the process. “When you’re pulling the print, it’s really a surprise,” Lazare describes. “You don’t really know what you’re going to get.”

Lazare, who has also taught various art classes at Friendship Circle’s Soul Studio in West Bloomfield and grew up attending Temple Israel, also in West Bloomfield, enjoys rock climbing when she’s not working on her printmaking and likes to take care of her collection of indoor plants.

In addition, she is in the process of creating her own website where people can purchase her art. For now, though, she says, “pop-up shows are the best way to get in touch with me to get something.”

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