11 Post Studio is the collaborative venture of Katie and Mike Maahs, working from their home on Waiheke Island. Each an artist in their own right, Katie and Mike are inspired by the beauty, history and symbolism of New Zealand postage stamps and combine their skills to create distinctive artworks accentuating these aspects of the humble stamp.
What do you make?
We personally design, draw and hand cut stencils with vintage New Zealand stamps as a backdrop mounted to recycled flow core. We’ve also started grafting Indian ink into some new pieces as well.
How did you get into your craft?
We started by inheriting an old leather suitcase of unwanted stamps from a dear friend’s childhood collection. After poring over the thousands of stamps we fell in love with the artwork of the stamps themselves. The depth and breadth of the style and artistry contained in the kiwi stamps we thought was worth sharing in a new way. We thought about art that we would want in our house and designed from that perspective.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
At first we were focused on designing something that felt authentic, bright and energetic. Once the stencil and stamp art got to a good place we started to look at the materials and what we could do to bring the final piece to as close to 100% recycled as possible. We eventually came across old real estate advert boards printed on plastic corrugate that replaced our need of foam core backing completely. We now can boast that our art is 90% recycled.
On a separate note we visited Christchurch just before the earthquake and now feel dutiful in helping anyway we can. We designed a Christchurch stencil and placed green stamps for the whole of New Zealand and a solitary red stamp marking the epicentre. 15% of all our sales of that piece go to CHCH Earthquake Appeal.
What inspires you?
Pop art, specifically Andy Warhol and his body of work. The way he was able to define life graphically and starkly is something that we hope to emulate to some degree. We are also obviously inspired by Kiwiana be it pop, modern or nostalgic. New Zealand Tourism posters from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are hands down some of the coolest art in NZ. We also draw a lot from our experiences living on Waiheke Island, the green attitude, and the way people really get into upcycling.
What five words describe your mind?
Debatably fractured common sense idealism.
Favourite materials, tools, and process?
The best part of the process is getting to know the stamps and culture represented on thousands of tiny canvases. We get very excited about laying down every stamp on a piece; it’s not just about colour blocking but about representing New Zealand sharply in many mediums at one time.
Describe your workspace:
Sometimes the mess gets out of hand with all the cuttings of paper, stamps bits, and plastic corrugate clippings so the floor and the table almost connect like mounds of snow at the base of a tree. Sometimes the stencils take a bit of time to do by hand so at times you’ll find one of us on the couch and the other at the work station laying down stamps or cutting away.
What are you currently listening to?
My Morning Jacket, Neon Indian, Danger Mouse, TV on the Radio
Recommend an album: PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Favourite childhood book?
Mike’s favourite childhood book is Hatchet, a book about a plane crash and how a young boy survives in the wilderness with just a hatchet (small axe) and his knowledge of the forest.
Katie’s favourite childhood book is Matilda, or any Roald Dahl book. “He got me and my perspective as a kid, I really related to the adventures in his books.”
What are you reading now?
Mike just finished reading The Hobbit for the first time – “I wanted it under my belt before the movie comes out”.
Katie is reading The Passage. “Vampires and zombies are in right now, so I’m powerless…brrrrraaaaaaiiinnnnnzzzzzz.”
Your hero/heroine: Meat Wad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Do you have any pets?
Five chickens (insert Grandma names) – Thelma, Wanda, Flora, Margaret and Pearl
Visit 11 Post Studio on Felt to view more of Katie and Mike’s work and find perfect postable Christmas gifts for ex-pat Kiwis and friends or family overseas, as well as meaningful pieces for the wall at home.