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Meet Natalie Center of Printed Pony in Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Center.

Natalie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I kind of fell into being a printer, I was never much of a painter in art school and worked almost exclusively in black and white. It wasn’t until I discovered print that it opened me up to all the possibilities of color in a more controlled way. When I discovered RISO printing, it was a match made in heaven, I had started participating in zinefests and art fairs and the combination of high-speed production and beautiful color overlays was exactly what I had been searching for.

After school, I toured West Coast zine fests and art fairs for about a year and a half. At that point, I made a bit of a pivot- I wanted to take my understanding of how I approached production and help others fulfill their zine dreams. That’s when I started working at Otis college, Printshop LA, and eventually the Facebook Analog Lab. It’s so fulfilling to see someone’s face light up when they see their own work get spit out of the machine.

Lately, I’m trying to move back to giving myself more of those face light up moments and working on more of my own work. I’m reopening my online store and setting up a Patreon so I can still share the teaching resources I created.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth is quite the opposite. I taught myself how to print in Riso so there was a lot of trial and error, Riso by the nature of itself as a medium will never be perfect and when I started approaching it, it took me a while to accept that but it also taught me to accept flaws and that I like my medium of choice will never be perfect and that’s ok.

Please tell us about Printed Pony.
Primarily what I do is teach, I think it’s what I’m most known for. What I’m most proud of is my Risograph Color tests, I started making them when I was still in school as just a guide for myself and have found them to benefit anyone who is interested in Riso. I’ve tried to tailor them to be as user friends as possible because I know how intimidating it can be to approach this weird new medium. I think that sets me apart from others would be the wide range of content I like to make- I get inspired by so many random little things it’s hard to pick what topic or subject I want to tackle next.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I’d try to not be as hard on myself. For a long time, I based my credibility and my personal worth on my productivity- the curse of being a Capricorn – trying to please everyone and not giving myself a chance to breathe is a fast track to burning yourself out. There’s no badge of honor in this self-imposed endurance race of trying to do everything all the time. It’s important to step back, take a night off, decline taking on another project to focus on personal work, and accepting there is no “perfect” and frankly, imperfection is more fun.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Andrew Harless Photography

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