Sara Gates – Founder of Kingsland Printing


Sara Gates - Founder of Kingsland Printing

We are so delighted to bring you this week’s Frank Talk with Sara Gates! Sara is an artist, collaborative printmaker and business owner that works in Brooklyn and lives in Rockaway Beach. Originally from upstate NY, Gates received her BFA from Syracuse University, a post graduate diploma from the Chelsea College of Art in London, and then moved to NYC to work towards her MFA at Pratt Institute. In 2006 while finishing up her degree at Pratt she founded Kingsland Printing, an artistic minded, high end, collaborative screen printing studio which she still owns and operates today. 

What was your first job in the Arts?

I studied screen printing with Tom Little while working towards MFA at Pratt, he hired me between my 1st and 2nd year at Brand X to work on a print with James Siena. Then I worked there again part-time when I finished at Pratt.

What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?

It was here that I fell in love with the collaborative nature of printmaking. Coming from a Painting background I was accustomed to working alone so it was refreshing to work alongside other artists in contrast to my previously isolating practice.

Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?

I have always known that I wanted to make art ever since I was a child. Growing up I had no idea what that looked like except being a painter though, so that was the path I originally thought I would follow.

What do you do now? 

I own and operate Kingsland Printing, a high end screen printing studio located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. 

Where are you from? 

A very small town in Upstate NY.

What is the arts community like there? 

When I was growing up it was nonexistent. I know things are changing up there now.

Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?

Yes and no. No, because as I mentioned there was no real art presence in my town. Yes, because at a young age I started taking painting classes with a local watercolor artist. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?

Know your worth and don’t take criticism too seriously.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

Starting and running a successful business in NYC for 14 years. Learning to trust my instincts and getting to work with artists and designers that I admire.

What has been a challenge for you?

Defining and redefining my goals as my business grows. Keeping it pointed in the direction I want to go in.

What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?

Well recently due to Covid 19 I have been doing everything. Having to wear all the hats since I’ve been working at the studio alone.

What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?

I screen printed a t shirt for a pig, and learned that pigs don’t like wearing t shirts.

What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?

Employee: Working well with others, a willingness to develop one’s skills to a high level of expertise and taking instruction in a positive way. 

Boss: Communication and making goals and expectations clear to employees.

What do you think makes a person hirable?

A certain level of talent and proficiency, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace? Any good tips for a giving a great interview?

Work hard everyday and be flexible. Be on time for your interview! I’m always shocked how many people will show up late and blame transportation.

Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?

Making art is magical don’t let the art world convince you otherwise.

Any other anecdotes about your working experience that you would like to share? 

Work hard, do good work, stay true to your word and then let your reputation speak for itself.

What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?

Making Knowing: Craft in Art 1950-2019 a current exhibition at the Whitney Museum. Kingsland does a lot of work with this museum so I am there frequently and wind up seeing shows multiple times which I love. This show includes some great artwork and as a maker I love the conversation of the role of craft throughout this show.

If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?

One of the perks of screen printing is getting printers proofs, so I am lucky enough to own prints by Amy Sillman, Linda Francis, Trish Andersen, and many others. The accessibility and affordability of editions is one of the main reasons I think prints are so important.

Have you seen any virtual exhibitions recently that you would like to comment on?  

Funny you ask, I’ve actually started a “small” gallery called Gallery Diorama that gives artists a chance to create “large scale” work, as of now it is only viewable on instagram, @gallerydioramanyc but that could change in the future. We have some great artists booked for the upcoming months.

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