Featured Graduate: Izzy Smithson

Izzy in her studio at Royal College of Art, 2020.
Izzy in her studio at Royal College of Art, 2020.

This week’s Featured Graduate is Izzy Smithson. You may be thinking, hold on, I’ve seen her in the workshop this year! Izzy graduated from the BA Illustration and Visual Media in 2017, and has been working with us ever since. As a Printmaking Support Technician, she supports students across Printmaking and Screenprinting. She is frequently on duty during our popular Saturday Club sessions, and can often be found elbow-deep in ink, alongside many of our dedicated students.

Her work traverses the boundaries of installation, illustration and printmaking, layering autobiographical, found imagery, and gestural mark making on alternative, and often industrial, surfaces.

Tell us about yourself.  How did you get started in printmaking?

I have always been interested in printmaking but have never really had the time or resources to try it until studying my BA. It was at this point where I was brought up to the printmaking workshops by my tutor at the beginning of my third year. Previously I had been in the studios, but not fully dedicated to this way of working. Since the first day of being introduced, I spent every day for the rest of my third year in the printmaking workshops and have been learning and experimenting ever since.

I am an artist and printmaker from London and love to experiment with every print process and have recently been pushing to combine these with installation. I enjoy how printmaking has multiple layers and processes that can be experimented and challenged.

Photo of folded, screen printed publication 'Home', 2020.
Home, 2020 (Screen printed publication).

Who are your biggest influences?

Lubaina Himid & Amy Sillman & Mike Kelly (Educational complex) are my current influences when it comes to my recent work. Through looking at their contextual ideas and experimental ways of making work, I have taken a lot of inspiration from their materiality and focus on narratives.

My grandparents are also some of my biggest influences. Whilst visiting them as children, we would always be occupied by creating art and crafts. They would teach my brothers and I how to draw, paint and collage alongside watching them create their own paintings. Recently I have been creating a project that is based solely around the personal journey to where my grandparents’ house was. I am always interested in the interaction between humans and environments but have been able to use this experience to explore ownership of space, collective memory and journeys of loss.

Where do you make work now?

In 2018, I started my Print MA at the Royal College of Art, where I have been able to access facilities in the printmaking workshops and have a personal studio space to create a lot of work in.

In the current situation, due to COVID-19, I have been working from an office room in my boyfriend’s dads house, trying to create with what I have around me and what can be ordered in. My workspace consists of lots of stuff, as a lot of my work starts off by drawing, collaging and layering with my personal archives and this then progresses into printmaking, installation or whatever fits best.

Photo of Izzy's current set up at home, 2020.
Izzy’s current set up at home, 2020.

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

My time at LCC was influenced heavily by the technicians and friends I made around me. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience from having the technicians around me all the time, enabling me to constantly learn and be experimental. Take advantage of the vast facilities and the knowledge that they all hold, they will always be supportive and try to make your ideas come to life.

If I could go back I would say to not be precious about my work, continually experiment and push myself out of comfort zones. I always make mistakes and make work that doesn’t “work”, but I use this as key learning and motivational points.

Installation photo of 'In Uncertain Water We Are Treading', 2019.
In Uncertain Water We Are Treading, 2019.

How did you get started as a technician?  What’s it like?

I started to train to be a technician in the summer of 2017, just after graduating from LCC. I was given the opportunity to do a traineeship in the printmaking and screen printing workshops, where I gained a huge amount of experience. This then led onto helping to run workshops as part of London Design Festival at LCC, including a live drawing micro-residency. I was being asked back for multiple days to help with workshops and daily running of the studios, before gaining a regular day working as a Printmaking Support Technician, which I have continued whilst studying.

I assist with monthly public workshops at Science Museum with ScreenGrab and volunteered in 2018, for a short time, as a technician at Print Club London.

I love being a technician and find myself learning every day. Not only do I really enjoy printing, but also helping students/printers to bring their ideas to reality and enabling them to experiment and push themselves into new areas.

Installation photo of collage 'Waiting For Something To Come Bite Our Toes', 2019.
Waiting For Something To Come Bite Our Toes, 2019.

Where can we see more of your work?

Most of my work in progress can be seen on my Instagram and more “finished” work on my website.

Instagram: @izzysmithson
Website: izzysmithson.com

Selected Exhibitions Since Graduating

  • 2017 Graduate Show, London College of Communication
  • 2017 Elephant Press, London Design Festival, London
  • 2018 Print Showcase, Royal College of Art
  • 2018 Object Resurrection, Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art
  • 2018 Sustainable Futures, Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art
  • 2019 Work In Progress Show, Royal College of Art, Battersea
  • 2020 Against the Grain, Southwark Park Galleries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.