Farewell Ling Chiu!

We would like to say a fond farewell to our amazing Technical Coordinator, Ling Chiu, who is leaving the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress team at LCC to begin an exciting two-year residency at Thames-side Print Studios in London, and a month-long residency at AGALAB in Holland. We’ve been chatting to Ling to find out about her time here at UAL and her future plans.

Ling joined UAL in 2014, as a temporary printmaking technician at Wimbledon College of Art. She was already working as a technician at Thames-side Print Studio, and as a Curatorial Assistant at UCL Art Museum, and thought “why not try something new?”. Like many artists, she was juggling a creative practice with a mixed bag of freelance education and part-time work.

“Wimbledon’s printmaking workshop was magic – tiny but bold and ambitious. I worked with one other technician to run it, and we covered screenprinting, etching, relief printing and large format digital printing! It was exciting to work with a mix of fine art, costume and theatre students, and the technical team was very closely knit. We had competitive bake offs, Friday breakfast fry-ups, and ran lunchtime origami sessions for staff and students.”

Three years later, she moved to LCC as the full-time Printmaking Technical Coordinator. Formerly the London College of Printing, Ling was joining a College and team with deep and wide print knowledge. She wanted to balance that legacy with innovation, inclusive practice, and promoting printmaking in a College without fine art or printmaking courses.

“If I had to look back and pick one thing I’m most proud of, it would be developing the Printmaking traineeship with the team. We started with a single Arts Temps trainee and a ten-day paid programme! Now we’re known for providing good, paid, opportunities for students to train as technical staff, and get experience supporting day-to-day running, or some of our Outreach teaching. We’ve worked with DPS students, students from across UAL, alumni, and I’m especially proud to promote women in printmaking, and women in technical roles.”

Did you know? Ling is something of a Health and Safety nerd. She actually has a NEBOSH qualification in Occupational Health and Safety, which she completed while she was at LCC, alongside as PG Cert and PG Dip in Academic Practice.

“I think people have the wrong idea of Health and Safety – H&S is super-inclusive, and super-enabling. People think Health and Safety is all about paperwork and stopping people from doing what they want, when actually, it’s about how we can do exciting things, but make it safe for everyone to participate – who doesn’t want that?”

Ling is now embarking on a two-year residency at Thames-side Print Studios, where she also has her own studio. She plans to develop her own visual practice, while writing about, thinking about, and delivering printmaking that is inclusive, sustainable, safe, and beautiful. She will return to AGALAB in Holland later this year for a month-long lithography residency, working with vegetable cleaning agents (VCAs), and researching water use and workflows in printmaking processes.

“There is a place for printmaking 10, 50, 100 years from now, but it is incumbent upon us to be responsible makers; to not live in a bubble. We must use what can be grown when we can, and be precious with anything mined, distilled or shipped. We need to include more people, which means acknowledging where there are barriers: these lovely presses and processes were not designed for my body, my person, my ability, and they may not be designed for yours either… but I am going to do it anyway, and help you do it, too. This is how printmaking not only survives, but thrives.”

Ling will be greatly missed by both students and staff in the workshops, as her enthusiasm and expertise is top notch! She kept us all happy and motivated, with an excellent balance of humour, candidness, knowledge, kindness, respect and of course enough sweet treats!

We are super excited for the future that Ling has created, we wish her all the very best on her new adventure and look forward to following her progress on her Instagram.

Featured Graduate: Catia Kelleher

Multiple plate Linocut print made during Return to Make
Multiple plate Linocut print made during Return to Make.

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

I have always loved to draw and paint. Luckily for me, I grew up in a family that have always appreciated creativity from drawing to music to architecture. Therefore, I was absorbed into the art world at a young age. I even remember being in awe at my dad’s watercolour and grandad’s oil paintings that are proudly hung on the walls of my family home. With my work now hanging up on the wall too, it has been become somewhat of a family gallery.

2. How did you get started in printmaking?

I had my introduction into Lino printing at the age of 16 at college and I immediately loved the technicality of the process. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take it much further due to a lack of available facilities. When searching for art universities, I was intrigued to find that LCC had incredible printing equipment and inductions. I was finally able to expand my knowledge of printing into new methods such as screen printing, letterpress, and lithography. Lino is still my favourite print medium, because of the textures it allows me to bring to my work.

Cutting lino blocks during Return to Make. Blocks depict a parrot and a toucan.
Cutting lino blocks during Return to Make.

3. Who are your biggest influences?

I am heavily influenced by modern artists, such as Andy Warhol, Craig Stephens and Jeff Koons. All of whom are artists that take ordinary commercial objects and transform them into art icons. I am inspired by their ability to shed new light on graphic design that we see daily, such as food labels. I find it a shame that they are often overlooked within the art world. A GCSE art project of mine consisted solely of recreating product labelling and all it’s intricate details.

The use of pop art that has been influenced by the culture of advertisements fascinates me as it is a mirror of the society at that time.

I love commercial illustrations and posters from the likes of vintage London Underground advertisements or attraction posters such as the London Zoo. I have an appreciation for dramatic composition and graphic colours – being minimal is not a talent of mine!

In my artwork, I like to experiment a lot with colours and love to show many combinations of complimentary and contrasting features. I admire the colour palettes of Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Matisse.

I have a huge appreciation for nature and have represented it in some of my artwork over the years. Works I have created recently are designed to embrace the diversity of the flora and fauna that are currently at risk due to the declining environmental situation. I am also inspired by my Brazilian heritage and want to bring awareness to the constantly rising dangers that the wonders of the Amazon face.

Editioned screen prints drying on the racks. These prints were made earlier in the course and are inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Editioned screen prints drying on the racks. These prints were made earlier in the course and are inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

4. Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated? What does your current work setup look like?

This year of 2020 has been a challenge for us all so after completing my studies and graduating during lockdown from my home, it is foggy to try and envision the near future and be motivated to create new pieces. However, during these times, optimism is the best way forward. Recently, I have had the chance to return to the LCC relief printing studio and I have found a new drive of energy to continue creating.

I have a desk set up in my living room with all my supplies, from paints to fabric. Here, I can work away surrounded by posters from exhibitions I have been to over the years. However, I find that inspiration can strike at any time of day. I have the Pocket ProCreate app on my phone to make sketches of ideas that come to mind whilst waiting for the next tube to arrive or my coffee order to be ready. Later, when I’m back at my desk I can then work on these concepts more and develop them further by resketching and painting in colour schemes.

For now, I will be putting my efforts into making as much artwork as I can to upload onto my Instagram account or sell on an Esty shop till more job opportunities open up. 

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

Any free time you get, dedicate it to something brand new or something you want to learn more about. There are always areas to explore in printing and in your own process as you constantly absorb inspirations around you. Expand, learn and develop.

Don’t shy away from opportunities to bring more awareness to your work, exhaust the list.

Finally, while I unwillingly graduated during the Covid-19 pandemic, I would definitely say don’t take the university space and facilities for granted.

Linocut of lemons and limes.
Linocut of lemons and limes.

6. Where can we see more of your work?

I post weekly on my art Instagram account @cm_getscreative where I share the process behind my current projects and then reveal the final pieces.

I also have an online portfolio, which is accessible at https://catiakelleher.myportfolio.com/

Matching typeface and paper

When working on a project in print, you will decided on a typeface or more. This choice can depend on the overall aesthetic of a project, its historical context or any other conceptual reasons. There are endless design decisions that can influence it. The same is true for the choice of paper. Its texture and surface play an important role, and so does content. Colour photography may look more brilliant on coated stock, but uncoated paper can emphasize monochrome imagery just as well. But there is also a decision that can be made regarding the combination of type and paper.

A book spread with a page of text on yellowish paper on the left, and a monochrome image on slightly more white paper on the right.
This spread illustrates the use of two paper stocks within one book: uncoated for the main body text, and coated for plates and small, italic serifs.

Not every paper stock suits every typeface. On the contrary – often, typefaces for letterpress would have been designed to compensate for relief impression into paper. Nowadays it is rare that typefaces are designed taking this compensation into account, but optical considerations remain the same. 

Letterpress printed text detailing the font and paper it was set in
Font and paper choice in a letterpress project. Baskerville was designed in the 18th century and suits older printing presses and printmaking papers well.

One way to go is to group old with old, and modern with modern, based on historical usage:

“(…) that Transitionals and Didone groups of ‘moderns’ are best printed on the calendered surfaces which were developed to show off their elegance when they were first designed during the 18th century; and that art paper is not generally suitable for highly refined Didone faces because it accentuates the stroke contrast of these ‘moderns’, producing an effect of ‘dazzle’ which reduces their legibility.” (Warford, 1971) It is also worthy to note that some typefaces were only designed when more modern, precise printing presses were available. In the example of Didot, its very fine hairline strokes are prone to crack when printing is not done very carefully without any excess pressure.

The book cloth covering of a vinyl sleeve was printed with wood type or a plate, whereas an additional label was printed from metal type.

Letterpress is meant to be printed with a ‘kiss impression’, which means there is no actual relief impression left in the paper. An uneven surface will not result in an even, flat print. This includes uncoated paper, printmaking and handmade papers as well as book cloth. On those surfaces, small type and thin strokes will vanish. Bolder, larger sizes are more forgiving. Plates are often more suitable as a slightly stronger impression will leave a more even ink coverage, but would potentially damage type. Even with those materials, details will blur and larger, bolder type will bring better results.

Sources and further reading:

Design for Print Production
H. S. Warford
London Focal Press (1971)
Available at the LCC Library

Print your own Design on Book cloth

All you need is some A4 book cloth and an inkjet printer. Every material will have a slightly different outcome as it depends on the finish of the book cloth, your printer and if your screen is calibrated. That means you will need to do some tests.

Below you will find a selection and tests on different book cloths that are suitable for printing. Some images work better than others. A common problem is the printer has difficulties taking the book cloth in, or recognising it. If this happens, what you can do is tape the top of the book cloth onto a sheet of paper with a small gap. Like this, your printer will recognise the book cloth as a sheet of paper.

The photographs are from a series of Ruby Rossini’s own Quarantine Residency: Looking for nature where nature is not. Ruby completed her MA in Design for Art Direction at LCC last year. She now works as a multidisciplinary Designer, Art Director and Photographer. Her personal works focuses on the theme of belonging and identity through a variety of different media which are visually explored through Image-Making.

Wicotex Saphir is a Natural woven rayon cloth. Texprint White and Velprint White are flocked materials with printable textile structures.

Wicotex Toile Canvas is a Open weave cotton book cloth that transmits the sense of originality. Brilliance White and Wicotex Printex are natural woven rayon cloth.

Wicotex Brillianta Calandre, Wicotex Imprimex and Wicotex OLB Premium are all natural woven rayon cloths with slightly different finishes. The Wicotex Imprimex took very long to dry.

Wicotex Finesse, again is a natural woven rayon cloth. Kashgar is a luxury woven material with the natural lustre of real satin. Wicotex Magic is a classic woven textiles with the genuine touch and feel of the finest linen.

Order your A4 book cloth samples at Winter and Company

If you have an A4 inkjet printer you can, for example, create an A6 (or slightly bigger) Single Section Case Binding.

Single Section Case Binding

You can find out how to make your own Single Section Case Binding with a step by step guide illustrated in the two books below:

A step-by-step guide by Kathy Abbott

Making Books
A guide to creating hand-crafted books
by the London Centre for Book Arts

Lost words of letterpress

A2 Letterpress printed poster of printing terms
Lost words of Fleet Street, Mick Clayton and Catherine Dixon, Printed at St Bride, 2019

For those of you who have been introduced to letterpress, you will be aware of the many confusing terms we use in the workshop. I’m sure you’ve already forgotten what a Quoin is. Well, let me confuse you further.

I am fortunate enough to work alongside others at St Bride Foundation who worked in letterpress when it was a larger part of the printing industry. One of the things I love about my role at St Bride is the wealth of letterpress history that I am taught through my colleagues. They’re constantly reminiscing about the good old days, in specific, the ‘words’ they used to use whilst on the job as seen below:

A.B.P. — anything but print (a lazy person)

Bang Out — celebration of retirement or conclusion of apprenticeship

K.D. — A private job (keep dark)

Knowing Your Boxes — Being aware of what you are doing or talking about

N.F. — a companion who hears or observes something intended for them and ignores it (no fly)

On the Coach — Not speaking to someone

Out of Sorts — running out of the type you need

Pieing Your Case — accidentally mixing the type so that they have to be sorted out

Putting up the Half-Double — ending a conversation on a particular subject

Quire — twenty-five copies / sheets of the same paper

Space Up — an argument

Stop Press — a small stereo added to a blank column, for breaking news while printing

Wrong Fount — a suspicious character

If you are interested in printing history, LCC archive have a fantastic collection linking back to its time at St Bride Foundation. St Bride Library holds one of the world’s most significant collections of books about printing. As well as many physical objects available for viewing, but not until the pandemic restrictions allow. Until then, please stay tuned for the next letterpress post and stay safe and well.

In the mean time, why not watch this short film Banging Out — Fleet Street Remembered a documentary film based on oral history interviews with former printers and journalists.


Mick Clayton and Catherine Dixon, Lost Words of Fleet Street, A2 Letterpress Poster part of the Collections and Collaborations event held on 14 May 2019 as a visual celebration of the St Bride Library. Available at St Bride.

Rowles, G., 1949. The ‘Line’ Is On. London: London Society of Compositors, pp.101-103.

Featured Graduate: Shihui Yang with a step-by-step guide on how to make your own Long Stitch Binding

Shihui Yang is a book artist based in Singapore. She started her book arts journey 8 years ago when she came to London to undertake her Bachelor’s degree in Book Arts and Design at London College of Communication. Whilst in the UK, she has worked with global publishing house, Dorling Kindersley, which saw her creating professional book mock-ups for presentation at international book fairs. She also did work experience at the London Centre for Book Arts where she learned how to run a workshop and deepened her book making skills. Upon graduation, she continued to explore the different formats and structure of the book as she worked as a junior art director at an advertising firm.

Longing to take her passion full time, she started Based Book Arts Workshop – an independent creative workshop dedicated to educating book making and book arts. She has since been conducting bookbinding workshops and creating works at a quaint printmaking workshop – The Bee’s Knees Press

Since we are all spending more time at home nowadays, she has turned her Long Stitch bookbinding workshop into an online tutorial for you to download and to make your own long stitch binding without using any glue.

Image is showing a Long Stitch Binding and all materials required for making it: awl, bone folder, needle, thread, cutting knife, pencil, ruler cutting mat, eraser, scissors
Long Stitch Binding and Tools

Download tutorial here:

Before starting you might want to make yourself familiar with the terminologies of a book, which are used in this tutorial as well as create your own punching cradle by following the step-by-step guide here.

Image is showing all materials required for a Long Stitch Binding: cover paper, text paper, waste paper, awl, bone folder, needle, thread, cutting knife, pencil, ruler cutting mat, eraser
Materials for a Long Stitch Binding

Print Curiosities – No. 1: Paul Peter Piech

By Richard Roberts

Over the coming weeks I’ll be picking out and writing about a variety of print curiosities from my own collection. This post will focus on a Linocut print by Paul Peter Piech, (pronounced Peach), ‘When I Give Food To The Poor They Call Me A Saint, When I Ask Why The Poor Have No Food, They Call Me A Communist’. The Dom Hélder Câmara referred to in the print was a Brazilian Catholic Archbishop who was critical of the military regime of the time.

A framed Linocut print by Paul Peter Piech 1987
Signed Linocut Print – Paul Peter Piech – 1987

Piech (1920-1996) was a prolific printmaker and self-publisher who started out as a graphic designer. He founded his own imprint, Taurus Press, whose purpose, in his own words, was “to stimulate interest in and concern for humanity as a whole. I want to publish only work which I feel does this.” (V&A Archive)

Interestingly, he has a connection to LCC, teaching at the original London College of Printing for a time. In 2013 Four Corners Books, in association with the V&A, published The Graphic World of Paul Peter Piech which reproduced over 120 prints drawn from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the University of Reading. This book and other Taurus Press publications are held in the LCC Library.

The book cover of The Graphic World of Paul Peter Piech by Four Corners Books.
Four Corners Books – V&A Publishing

In 2016, The People’s History Museum in Manchester staged an exhibition entitled: Dedicated to all Defenders of Human Freedoms: The Art of Paul Peter Piech. A lot of his posters really resonate in these turbulent times so if you haven’t already, go and check him out. Even better, if you feel inspired, how about picking up a V gauge yourself and giving Lino-cutting a go. Go on, you know you want to! On that cheesy note I’ll sign off. Bye for now.

The Architecture of a Book

“The book is an intimate communicator, revealing its secrets to those willing to move its pages and interpret its signs”
Anne-Catherine fallen, “In Context – Contemporary Artists’ Books and their Antecedents

The image is showing icons of a book, explaining its architecture
Terminologies of a book

book — A portable container consisting of a series of printed and bound pages that preserves, announces, expounds, and transmits knowledge to a literate readership across time and space.

codex — The physical form of Western books, i.e., printed leaves open at the right and bound together at the back edge.

cover — Thick paper or board that attaches to and protects the book block.

dust jacket — A protective paper sleeve around the cover of a book.

endpaper — The leaves of paper that are glued to the front- and backboards of a hardback book to strengthen the joint between the boards and the book block. They are often decorative.

french fold — A method of binding whereby a sheet of paper is folded in half and the open ends are bound into the spine so that the fold forms the fore-edge of the book.

fore edge — The outer vertical, trimmed edge of a book, opposite the spine.

head — The top of the book

hinge — A fold in the endpaper between the pastedown and the flyleaf

recto/verso — The two sides of a leaf in a codex. Recto is the right-hand, verso is the back of that same leaf, not the page facing to recto.

spine — Section of book cover that covers the bound edge. 

tail — The bottom of the book

For more details on book terminologies and book structures you can order a free copy of: Size|Format|Stock by emailing Justin@fennerpaper.co.uk. It is a booklet that was written by Justin Hobson from Fenner Papers in collaboration with Zoë Bather at Studio8. A great reference book for graphic designers and book makers.

Reference on the above terminology and further reading can be found here:
Fawcett-Tang, R. New Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2004
Haslam, A. Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2006
Smith, K. A. Structure of the Visual Book. New York: Keith Smith BOOKS, 2002
Stanley, R. Book Design, Systematic Aspects. New York & London: R. R. Bowker Company, 1979

Watch the Anatomy of a Book a short film by the New Yorker in which, antiquarian booksellers reel off the special language they use to catalogue a book’s condition and describe the methods for fixing its faults:


Featured Graduate: Marion Bisserier

Spread of Good Girl type specimen
Offset type specimen showcasing the three styles of Good Girl.

Marion graduated from BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design (GMD) in 2019. She has a passion for type and its potential to visually convey meaning beyond the language it primarily serves. She also enjoys critical writing on typography and graphic design.

1. Tell us about yourself. Have you always been interested in art and design?

I’m a French designer who grew up in Amsterdam before I was lucky enough to move to London to pursue my design education. As a kid I was drawing loads in my free time and would get really excited whenever there was a chance to express my creativity at school.

 2.  You worked across multiple print techniques when you were at LCC. How did this influence your practice?

Being introduced to different printing techniques during my time at LCC had several significant impacts on my work. 

One of them being the ability to understand the production side of design. It’s one thing to imagine a design, but it’s whole other skill to make it come to life and stand on its own two feet. Spending time in the different printmaking facilities at LCC has allowed me to understand what each process requires and why they are worth the time and effort. Even if as a graphic designer I’m not really printing things myself now, being aware of how printers work in their respective fields and knowing what is possible but also what is not possible inevitably influences my ideas as a designer.

Another one is more directly related to letterpress, where I developed my understanding and love of typography. Even if InDesign is a great tool, when you open a document it has all of these default features of leading and tracking that you’re kind of tempted to just trust, especially as a student. When working with letterpress, there is no ‘default’ composition – you have to physically make all these decisions yourself and develop your own eye. You discover that not all typefaces are designed to look great at 10pt on 12pt leading with zero kerning. When you are designing a graphic outcome, say a book or a website, having this awareness of how much control you actually have with type alone unlocks so many ideas.

Close-up of a screen printed poster in yellow, black and silver
Detail of screen print promoting events around the image of music at the V&A.

3.  How do you stay up to date and connected in the design world?

I like to go to talks and events, especially the ones where people are relaxed about sharing work in progress or are seeking feedback from the audience like Type Thursday for instance. I find this sort of format very beneficial in the sense that it encourages conversation and makes networking much more organic.

I have also learned that connecting to the design world doesn’t necessarily mean just following famous designers on Instagram and attending their talks, but also nurturing my community of friends who just like me are still figuring their creative career out. In my group of friends from LCC, we’re all exploring a different direction in design and when we meet up, we often talk about things that didn’t go as we’d expected them to. Having that safe space to share your learning experiences with others and to feel supported when things don’t go right is super important.

4.  What does your current work setup look like?

Right now I am self-isolating in France with my family so my current set-up is essentially a desk in the living room with my sketchbook, my pencils and my laptop. Back in London, I have put up prints of people I know or whose work I love which makes me happy and some design books whenever I am tired of the screen. I also have this huge collection of paper scraps I’ve been collecting that I have yet to do something with!

Close up of letterpress printed Good Girl type specimen, black on pink paper
Detail of limited edition letterpress specimen of Good Girl.

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

Don’t overestimate the limited and precious time you have in these amazing facilities with the technicians. If you want to make something, just listen to yourself and go for it rather than trying to fit into what you perceive the industry expects of you. The right job will come sooner if you are honest with yourself.

6.  Where can we see more of your work?  

You can check out my website (which I’m always tweaking) at www.marionbisserier.com or my Instagram at @marionbisserier. 

I’ve recently been interviewed on It’s Nice That, AIGA and Domestika.

Featured Graduates: Giant Triplets

image of rosie and maeve screenprinting at Glastonbury festival . ©photo by Alex Kurunis
Rosie and Maeve Printing for Oxfam’s sustainability initiative at Glastonbury Festival
©photo by Alex Kurunis

Giant Triplets is the collaborative enterprise of Rosie Lee Wilson and Maeve O’Brien, who met in the screenprint workshop at LCC.  They facilitate screen printing events and workshops, travelling to festivals and sites all over the country, with sustainability at the heart of their practice.

Rosie Lee Wilson, BA Illustration and Visual Media – Artist, designer and arts facilitator

Maeve O’Brien, BA Design Management and Cultures – Arts & Textiles Worker

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

R: I believe everyone starts off as an artist, I was lucky enough to have parents that fostered that and empowered me to see creative endeavours as a valid path. With young people it’s really more of a question of when and why did you stop?

M:  I tend to shy away from defining myself as an artist. There’s a vulnerability about it which I’m not great at embracing, and I think goes some way to answer Rosie’s question above. Part of me thinks it’s been beneficial to avoid that definition, in that  it allows for more flexibility in the work I do with community groups. I can be a print maker, set builder, slime lord, support worker – all depending on the needs and desires specific to the community I am collaborating with at the time.

2. How did you get started in screen printing?

M: Fortuitously, I really didn’t enjoy the course I was on and it’s base camp was literally right next to the screen printing studios. So, I played truant in there pretty regularly, experimenting. My mental health was completely shot a lot of the time and found the process of screen printing cathartic in that it can be physically demanding, requiring focus, precision. You need to be present when you’re printing (given there’s a multitude of points where it can mess up) and that, in conjunction with the innate novelty of stencil making, just clicked for both Rosie and myself, I think. 

On festival sites it literally feels like we’re magical print witches; every time we do a collaborative print with people, everyone – including us still, 1000’s of prints later – is like, “What is this sorcery?!” And there’s cheering and clapping and jumping up and down with excitement.

3. Who are your biggest influences?

R: It’s interesting that this question takes me firstly to people like, Sister Corita Kent, Joe Tilson, Robert Rauscenberg, Kitaj, Ray Johnson but this also speaks to this idea of the expert or fine art absolutism. Maeve pointed out that really our biggest influences are our peers, contemporaries and extended families. I had an alternative upbringing, my parents travelled with the peace convoy and my father was in an anarcho punk band on Crass records. I think there are some very obvious parallels with what I do ideologically and aesthetically to that radical peace punk scene which is a direct consequence of that counter culture upbringing. To me it’s more of a philosophy than a product. 

M: For me there isn’t any individual that I could say is my biggest influence. I never had any formal arts training, and so feel outside of that world a lot of the time. Rosie and I connected on an ideological level first, and an aesthetic compatibility second.

We’re both stans of counterculture ephemera from the 1960’s – 1980’s, and a lot of our references are drawn trawling through physical archives like Mayday Rooms or on instagram, accounts like @radical_archive and @patientcreatures.

There’s a Novara Media podcast called #ACFM and the episode, ‘Collective Joy’, touches on the countercultural and free festival movement a bit, and has definitely served as an enduring inspiration for both of us. See Red Women’s Workshop was a big part of our conversations when we started going with Giant Triplets, as well as Atelier Populaire. Cheddar Car Boot Sale is like church for Giant Triplets.

I’m currently reading Michael Thompson’s Rubbish Theory: The Creation and Destruction of Value and can see parallels with Giant Triplets’ philosophy. We use print and design as a way to extend the life-cycles of what are often landfill destined items of clothing, and the direct hands on experience creates a lasting memory which translates something initially deemed rubbish into something of value. Having done this for a few years now it’s been so amazing to see people returning with the same t-shirt we printed with them two, three years ago to continue adding to it.

Ultimately, though, it is our peers which are the biggest driving force for us, who are usually operating in resistance to structural inequalities and are striving for positive change via their practice. It’s those everyday conversations with them that inspire us to keep moving forward with our own. 

Fat Boy Slim and artist Anthony Burrill screenprinting outside at Glastonbury festival ©photo by Alex Kurunis
Fat Boy Slim and Anthony Burrill using our alfresco press at Glastonbury Festival
©photo by Alex Kurunis

4. Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated? (and how did you get started with Giant Triplets)

M: We met in the screen printing studios, Flo and Josie – who were print technicians while we were there – arranged a print marriage of sorts which we consummated by drinking slushies and dancing to cheesy pop music at London Palace Superbowl in the top level of Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre.

R: We worked with the sustainability team from Glastonbury festival on a campaign in which people swapped an environmental pledge for a T-Shirt printed on pre-loved items. Glastonbury really sets a precedent to other festivals so after this initial project lots of others followed suit and we have now worked with some of the biggest festivals and charities. 

Our initial pitches were totally fabricated, we had the shell and the idea and just took photos of screens and squeegees in the back of a van, using our design-school knowledge to create professional looking PDFs. I had been working on festivals for some years so had an idea of the jargon, budget questions and plot requirements we would need for approval, it was truly fake it ‘til you make it.

M: Since then we’ve really tried to use screen printing as a way of creating a dialogue around sustainability and fast fashion, and try to get people to connect the dots between textile production, climate crisis and migrant justice.

R: We print anywhere and everywhere; Maeve is in the midst of setting up a community print studio in a South East London Adventure Playground and my studio (Giant Triplets festival season HQ) is in an intentional community outside of Bristol, where I live, which I make available to whoever wishes to access it.

We resist the tendency to isolate practice within institutions and expensive studios. Our practice is about skilling up, empowering people to print and igniting conversations which we hope could contribute to positive change. 

We really believe that print should be a DIY and democratic pursuit. The collective is stronger than its separate parts through sharing space, resources and tools. Doing things on a shoestring to a tight deadline in between festivals has resulted in so many happy accidents.

M: The generosity we’ve been extended in asking for help has been humbling. I mean, for example, the exposure unit dying 24 hours before a job seems like hell on earth at the time, but in hindsight it would have meant we didn’t meet the old print heads in Cheddar, or Kevin at DIY Space for London, or Jonny Akers in Bristol and listened to their stories which kind of plug us in to a grassroots history, craft, community that continues to thrive in print.

image of a screen ready to print with Greenpeace slogan, "extinction means forever" . ©photo by Alex Kurunis
A screen for our set up in the Greenpeace field at Glastonbury Festival

©photo by Alex Kurunis

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

R: Don’t take the facilities for granted, it is a long and expensive journey to be in a position where you can print and make books again. For me personally, don’t try and finalise work on the computer alone, always try and bring things back into the physical. If you believe in something don’t be moved from it, intern, pick up work outside of university and make connections

M: It can be quite difficult to keep your voice central when you are trying to take on board the advice of tonnes of other people and sometimes you can lose yourself in that. So, I would say to trust your gut – it’s inevitably correct.

6. Where can we see more of your work?

Instagram: @rosieleewilson @gianttriplets @maeveforever