This holiday season, the FF2 Media team is excited to introduce our readers to Pomegranate, a publishing and printing company that offers its customers “art you can bring home.” In celebration of Pomegranate’s commitment to inclusivity, we’re proud to spotlight some of the brilliant women artists in their catalogue.
Pomegranate Brings Us Deb Stoner’s Nature Art for 2022
Many artists tend to work in one or two mediums. But Deb Stoner, artist and craftsman, has worked in a multitude of artistic disciplines, from jewelry, eyeglass design to photography. Her photography has been displayed at the Portland International Airport, wrapped around the Palos Verdes Art Center building, and featured in puzzles, calendars and notecards of Pomegranate. Her work was recently featured in a concert of the all-women Portland-based group In Mulieribus. I was delighted by the opportunity to talk with Deb one on one about her multi-faceted career.
ES: How did you come to art? You have a degree in geology!
Deb Stoner: In high school in California in the 70s, they had an amazing fine arts program, including jewelry making. I had a pretty solid foundation with lost-wax casting and fabricating metals. I loved that. But I had very practical parents who said you should get a degree, so you can get a job because nobody could imagine that you can get a job in the arts.
I was good in math and science and so I went to UC Davis and got a degree in geology. During that time, people not interested in going on to higher education after a bachelor’s went up to the oil fields of Alaska and worked there. I did that … and I lasted about nine months before I just realized this is not for me.
I really wanted to go back and study jewelry. I got an apprenticeship in a jewelry store and I learned all the technical aspects of making jewelry by repairing jewelry and fabricating jewelry.
I went to graduate school at San Diego State where instead of studying the technical concerns of making jewelry, [I studied] why do we make things. It was a good direction for me to go in because most people who entered graduate school in the arts have come from undergraduate school in the arts, and instead of knowing how to build things in a technical way, they know how to do things from a conceptual way. My direction was having the technical first and then going on to the conceptual.
ES: How did you get into photography?
Deb Stoner: Photography has always been a sort of a sidebar to what I’m interested in. When I was in graduate school, I was studying black and white photography fairly intensely. I was always doing jewelry work that also [included] photography work.
I was looking at old techniques that are now called “alternative techniques”, but they’re actually the very first ways that the field of photography was explored through tintypes and daguerreotype. I was drawn to the instantaneous nature of digital photography, and especially with some of the printing techniques that could render things larger than I was used to working with.
At one point, I was working with old tin cans and images on tin and using that as the metal that I was making jewelry out of. I wanted to make my own images and so one of my colleagues said, “Why don’t you just have it printed on metal?” So, I started making images that I could have printed on metal.
Along the way, I started using a flatbed scanner as a way of gathering the image data rather than using a camera. That became “a thing” that I became known for, using a scanner in a really innovative way – “working flat.”
I gather materials from our garden and from other friends’ gardens; I collect bugs and I lay them all out and make compositions on my flatbed scanner. For the work for Pomegranate, everything that I make for them [comes from] images that have been created in that way on a flatbed scanner…
When I make the piece, the flowers and bugs and everything have to fit on the flatbed scanner. That’s the size of a piece of paper – 8.5 by 11.7 inches. But the technology allows for a super high resolution. So, whenever I’m making a piece, I try to gather all the information at the highest resolution I can before crashing my computer. Then that allows me to blow the images up fairly big – maybe 40 by 60 inches.
Deb Stoner: I actually had a show at the Portland (OR) International Airport and my large-scale photographs were there – 12 of them – along a really busy corridor. That was the first sort of alternative to a gallery that I’d ever worked with.
At some point, a friend of mine had worked with Pomegranate and said, “Just call them.” So, I did contact them, and they said, “Well, we’re not really doing all that many photographic calendars anymore. But let us just keep you on our back burner for other opportunities because we like your work quite a bit.”
They contacted me at first with the idea of the puzzle. It was a long time before the pandemic that we started working on it. But it ended up coming out during the pandemic. Who knew that puzzles would really take off during the pandemic? I think it’s in the fourth or fifth printing now, and we’re just about to launch another 500 piece puzzle that I’m really excited about.
It’s my great pleasure to work with such an imaginative company that comes up with new ways that I can see my work and sell it, having a product line that is on the shelves at museum shops for example.
I’m just very excited about having my work be shown this way. Then people who collect things like the puzzles or the note cards or the calendars are really excited about becoming owners of my work, so it definitely drives sales.
I have had people who’ll write me an email that tells me “I’ve got the calendar. I look at it every day. I love it…And one of these days, I’m going to buy one of your prints.” And that is the most satisfying thing, that they understand the difference between a commercial calendar print and a fine art print.
© Elisa Shoenberger (11/15/21) Special for FF2 Media
Remember: When you order directly from Pomegranate the artists receive a larger percentage of sales.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Images from Pomegranate’s 2022 Deb Stoner calendar have been provided by Pomegranate and used by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate
Photo Deb Stoner in front of Palos Verdes Art Center building from her personal photo collection. Used by FF2 Media with her permission. All Rights Reserved by Deb Stoner.