Featured Graduate: Natasha Howie

Natasha working at home
Natasha working at home

Natasha Howie graduated in 2018 from BA Illustration and Visual Media (IVM). She now works in event production, whilst continuing her illustration practice on the side, which encompasses printmaking, photography, and graphic design.

1.Tell us about yourself.  Have you always made art?

My interest in art started at an early age, learning alongside my older brother. His ability to capture a character through loose sketching and delicate cross hatching fascinated me. Consequently, I have always appreciated work which is both subtle yet dynamic.

In recent years I have also come to really appreciate the immediacy of reportage illustration. Learning how to capture fleeting gesture, expression and the soul of a place / people. Drawing in situ presents unexpected challenges which have provoked me to become more fearless and carefree in my practice.

3 colour screen print on paper 2018
Les Valaisans (05), screen print, 2018

2.  How did you get started in printmaking?

As illustration is now considered quite an ambiguous term, I was fortunate to work alongside a hugely eclectic group of people on my course. Practices ranged from animation, photography, print, poetry and performance. This very quickly encouraged me to explore different approaches to image making and to branch away from the traditional methods of drawing. With the slight tendency to disregard the research and development stages of creative briefs, I found myself always rushing into a final piece. Given this, I was prompted by my wonderful tutor Ima to slow down and try some printmaking. It was the first time I truly became captivated by the beauty of the process and it enabled me to discover multiple ways I could transform my hand drawn visuals. I then spent the best part of my 3 years at LCC exploring various forms of print; relief, intaglio, screen-printing, risograph and letter press.

monoprint and digital image on paper
Night Swim, monoprint / digital

3.  Who are your biggest influences?

I am really interested in Dutch and Russian poster design, in particular work by the Stenberg Brothers and H.N Werkman. I find the use of muted colours, texture and simple linear drawings a very satisfying combination.

A more contemporary artist I recently discovered was Renee Gouin. Her work consists of layered elements, typically very angular in shape and coupled with a minimal colour palette, the resulting work I find captivating.

During University I chose to explore multiple briefs working on the offset monoprint press using hand cut stencils. This method created sharp, abstracted pieces which presented very similar characteristics to the Constructivist movement. This is something I hope to continue to explore when I gain access to another print studio.

linocuts on paper hanging in a drying rack
Behind Closed Doors, linocuts drying at londonprintstudio

4.  Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated? 

After graduating, I continued to make work at LCC Print Club on Saturdays and then once I had gained a new role at londonprintstudio, I used my days off to work in the studio. I spent the majority of my time there exploring linocuts using the Beever Press. I decided to try this method of printing after being very inspired by the work of graphic designer Andrzej Klimowski who I met whilst working there.

Following my time at LPS I started to work within event production and I have since been trying to keep my illustration going as my side hustle. Under the current circumstances I have had to move back to my parents’ place in East Sussex. I have a little desk set up in my bedroom and I am using my time here to work on some commissions and continuing to build up my portfolio. This is a very peculiar time however it has presented a rare opportunity for myself to fully focus on generating some new work, albeit sometimes it is difficult sleeping and working in the same room I feel very lucky to have a space to create.  

5.  Looking back on your time at LCC, what advice would you to yourself, if you could travel back in time?

I would have taken up more opportunities to work on my Adobe and graphic design skills as I do believe this really helps to secure a future career.

I would have also liked to work on more collaborative briefs, such as the Elephant Café Cook Book (which came out so beautifully!). And I wish I had kept an eye out for more competitions set by industry professionals, especially as I had the opportunity to use really valuable facilities.

monoprint and digital image on paper
Mexican Night, monoprint / digital

6.  Where can we see more of your work?  

When I graduated from LCC I took part in the Topolski Artist Residency, work from our final exhibition can be viewed here:@topolskistudio

I was selected to be part of Flock 2018 Graduate Show at Art East Gallery, where I exhibited screen prints from my Les Valaisans series.

I am also in the process of updating my website, and I continue to use Instagram to document my latest work: @natashahowieillustration

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