Now and then whilst sleeping, I get some really fantastic ideas for making images that no one has ever seen or done before, printed in a new way that will wow the creative world. For me it’s about the process, the journey, how you get there, the idea and not so much how it will look. How convenient of me.
Why go and buy something that’s pre-made when you can create your own unique version? Take AirFix Models for example: they never fit together as you see them on the box. The transfers were crap and would never stick to the model. My Spitfire looked decrepit. Like it had been in a dog fight (Labrador) before taking off.
It was about the thrill of making something from scratch, developing something new that you hoped would turn out amazing, even better than the picture on the box! I’m sure all this has something to do with growing up in the 1970s.
For some reason those amazing, drowsy ideas involved overprinting my apparently amazing designs. When I say ‘overprinting’, I mean ‘blocking out’ the design underneath with a solid colour. So that no one on earth can see it!
At the moment I’m working from home and don’t have access to my extensive back catalog, but luckily here’s a couple of examples of where my tiredness took me. The first print is a Xmas Card. A total success of repurposing old prints from teaching+dreams idea.
My closest work mates, friends and family all said that they really loved it, whilst I watched them tear the envelopes open!
Excuse the lockdown photography skills. The next and last example of overlaying solid colour was done with White. At a push it’s a 5% White, multi printed to give a layered look, almost like 3D construction. Again it’s about the journey and so the 20+ colours are all paper stencils amongst other things.
All jokes aside, printing flat areas of colour can be a great way of blocking out parts of your print you’re not happy whilst creating new bits that you are!
Print Curiosties: No.4 is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht
There should always be one work of art in your collection that simply invokes a feeling of joy. Pop-up book ‘Airborne’ by Chisato Tamabayashi, instantly puts a smile on my face. The book consists of six full page pop-ups, illustrating the journey of a hot air balloon. The simple narrative, bright colours, pop-up surprises and interactive sliding tabs, remind me of some of my favourite childhood picture books.
Chisato is a paper and book artist that studied Graphic Design at London College of Printing. She also holds an MA in Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art.
Like children’s picture books, Chisato’s artworks do not contain text. In an interview in Voice (2015) she explains: ‘I believe that visual language is universal, so hopefully the narrative I’m suggesting in my work can communicate through the imagery alone or take people along on their own imaginative journeys.’
Chisato illustrates and prints every part of her books. ‘Airborne’ provides the sense of awe and satisfaction that comes from something well designed and constructed. For ‘Airborne’, Chisato screen prints all the pages and separate parts for each pop-up piece. She then carefully cuts out each element. Once this process is completed, she constructs the pages together and hand binds them into a book. Painstaking care and patience is needed in every step of the process. It is this care that translates into a delightful tactile experience by the reader.
It is important to Chisato that the reader experiences this tactility. ‘I think tactility is very important and maybe that’s why I choose a book format. To enjoy an artist book, you have to touch the book, go through it at your own pace, feel the paper, listen to the noises (sometimes my pop-up pieces make noise!) and enjoy the images.’
This series of posts will explore the inner world of the technician’s toolbox. All of our technicians are practicing artists as well as educators and have built their tool collection to suit their changing needs and interests over the years.
A tool collection can be very personal with each tool having its own story and emotional connection. Tools can also range from being an essential basic to a specialist bespoke item. It is always very important that when borrowing a tool from someone to remember to be respectful that there may be this personal attachment to the tool. A tool that may seem like a standard piece of junk may have particular significance to the owner.
Toolboxes store and protect your tools and can be as varied as the tools themselves. Everyone has their own preference from a hardware store style compartmentalised box to decorative biscuit tins to leather roll up bags.
We have asked some of our technicians to share their tool collections and asked them three questions about their tools. We hope that these will inspire you to start you own toolbox.
We begin our journey with Specialist Screen Print Technician, Lisa Chappell, and her current set of tools. Instead of using a toolbox, Lisa has a set of pencil cases, tins and boxes assigned for different items and processes. Her pencil case collection includes:
A small one for pencils, replacement leads and erasers.
A medium one for pens, including Sharpie markers, opaque pens, Staedler and Rotring fine liners.
A large one for tools such as spatulas, scissors, craft knives and scalpels.
A clean one for bookbinding tools
In addition to her pencil case set she also has a tin for relief print that contains rollers, a wooden spoon and a baren, as well as a small box of etching tools
We asked Lisa:
What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox? A plastic spatula with flat edge for scraping up ink & mixing.
What is your favourite tool? A retractable pencil for consistent line.
What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have? A loupe, for a halftone addict
This blog post will show you another screen printing hack for anyone missing the studios. This method of printing is using a paper stencil as a barrier. This process is similar to the way you would work in the studio, but much more lo-fi.
Instead of using emulsion to act as a barrier for your ink, you will be using cut/torn newsprint (any thin paper) to do this. This process is great for experimenting with layers, textures and shapes!
You can create very detailed stencils or stencils that are a lot more abstract. This way of printing will allow you to create an edition, but only of a small size. The “barrier” paper will degrade over time.
What you will need:
Water based ink
Paper (Normal to print onto)
Paper (Thinner for your barrier)
Sponge/J-Cloth for cleaning your screen.
Spatula/ ID card for spreading ink onto your screen.
Our list of suppliers has information on where you can buy some of these materials from.
Step 1: Tape out your screen to create a window just smaller than your paper. Remember that anywhere you can see your screen mesh ink will print!
I have used parcel tape, but you can use white tape or anything similar. I have got clamps to hold my screen in place when printing, but if you don’t have these you could ask a flatmate to hold it down, or use big bags of rice.
Step 2: Position your paper under your screen, so that it lines up with the window you created with parcel tape. Once it is in place use tape to mark where the corner of your paper should be. I have used masking tape to mark where my corners land.
Step 3: Create your stencil! Using thin paper, cut or tear your paper to create stencils. I have used newsprint which is 90gsm. At this point you can be experimental. You can cut a very detailed stencil using a scalpel/scissors or tear the paper for more abstract shapes with textured edges.
Step 4: Get your inks ready. If you have ready mixed inks that’s great, but you can easily use any brand of acrylic paint with screen printing medium. Remember to mix your paint with at least 50% of the Screen printing medium.
I have used the ends of plastic bottles as my ink storage,
but you can use anything you find in your home.
Step 5: Position your stencil on top of your printing paper. Place the paper in the registration marks and place your stencil on top exactly where you want the design.
Step 6: Prop your screen on a roll of tape to allow you to flood the screen before printing.
Step 7: Floor your screen. Run a large amount of ink along the near side of your screen. You will then use your squeegee to push the ink to the back of the screen, covering the open area.
Step 8: You’re ready to print. Take out the roll of tape and place the screen down. With your squeegee, push down and pull it towards you.
1 or 2 pulls should be enough. If you are pulling twice don’t lift your screen up to look at your print in between, as you may move the paper underneath the screen. The first print might not be the best quality, but it will soon fill in.
Step 9: Lift up your screen and reveal your masterpiece. Put your print on the drying rack, flood your screen and keep printing, by repeating from Step 5 onwards.
Remember to keep moving when printing as you don’t want the ink to dry in the mesh. If you need to pause then just clean your screen before.
Step 10: Once you have completed all the prints you want from this stencil, use your ID card or spatula to scoop up your ink and save it for another time. Peel off your stencil from the underside of your screen and use your j-cloth or sponge with water to give your screen a thorough wash.
You can repeat from Step 3 if you want to add another layer to your print. This could add more detail, a new colour or a background. Take time to line up your second stencil on top of your first colour before printing.
You can keep adding layers to your print and be experimental with how you work.
One completed, this print can be worked into, using pencils, inks, oil pastels or pens and can be cut up and used for collage.
Tell us about yourself. Have you always made art? Influenced by my mother who works in the fashion industry, I was encouraged to draw at a very young age. I used to draw so much I was labelled as “the girl who can draw” in class. I love and want to pursue this creative path as a future career, so I was given support by my parents to take years of art academy classes back home. But even with all the support and approval from people around me, I still once had so many doubts on this art journey.
The art classes allowed me to get skilful at realistic and observational sketching and painting, but I never considered myself good enough to be an artist. At a time I felt lost and kept wondering whether capturing the likeliness is the only standard of good art, if so, why should we even draw when we have cameras. I know it sounds silly but it was actually after a lot of struggling, researching and learning, for me to realize how I used to have such a narrow mindset. The systematic learning of shapes, colours and lights & shadows, of course they are beneficial, but it also restrained me to believe drawing is just reproducing the reality. It never got me to see the real creative side of art.
Later looking at the impressionism and fauvism art which I really admire, now I believe art, especially drawing, is about one’s interpretation of something, and that something doesn’t even have to be real. The emotions, the experience, the imaginations, etc., they all can influence or form an artwork.
So I believe the answer is yes, I have been making art ever since I tried doodling out my dreams at kindergarten!
How did you get started in screen printing? I was introduced to screen printing during my introduction course at LCC, this traditional approach to a print process instantly caught my interest as this was something I had never seen before! What amazes me is the dedication that one needs to put into the preparation and printing process, and how nicely the textures and layers of ink turn out in the outcomes. Although it can be a bit frustrating when some flaws or mistakes happen, I guess that’s the charm of screen printing by hand, we are always learning as every time we print and face new challenges.
Who are your biggest influences? Uchida Masayasu, Tatsuro Kiuchi, On Yamamoto, Jame Jean. These are several of my favourite artists/ printmakers who inspire and influence me in terms of their compositions and texture making. Their artworks are really pleasant to see. (@uchidamasayasu, @tatsurokiuchi, @onyamamoto_art, @jamesjeanart)
Where will you make work now that you’ve graduated? I plan to head to other open-access print studios in London but haven’t made a decision yet. Because of the pandemic and my new postgraduate publishing course going on, I might slow down my printmaking projects a bit, but I will definitely keep doing it!
Looking back on your time at LCC, what advice would you give to yourself, if you could travel back in time? It is definitely “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t feel too frustrated and then give up easily.” As I mentioned, it is just very common to have small flaws and mistakes when you just started printing. But back then I was too focused on the imperfection and felt bad when getting called out that I was rusty. I even stopped printing for about a year, which I really regret as this period of time could have been properly spent to practice and learn from mistakes. So I think it is important not to be afraid to try and continue making work, and always believe that practice and hard work will pay off.
Additionally, I planned many screen print works to be happening in the last term, I wish I could have known the lockdown would happen and finished the printing in the second term. But luckily, the “Return to Make” in September allowed me to carry on making two of the projects, I am very grateful for the LCC screen print team to make this happen.
Where can we see more of your work? Instagram: @thescenestealers I am a member of The Scene-Stealers Collective and we make art for some iconic Films & TV shows. It is not about creating a movie poster that serves as a marketing tool, but about our original artistic/illustrative interpretation of a scene.
As many of you probably know, our Screen Print technician Florence Hawkins flew the nest mid-November. After 7 years at LCC, Flo was ready for new challenges and has moved onto a very exciting role at CSM as a Print & Dye Specialist Technician. Flo’s practice focusses on printed textiles and natural dyes, where she researches and creates colours from biowaste and foraged plant extracts. We were all sad to see Flo go, but knew that this job was made for her! In the new workshop Flo has quickly felt ‘at home’ and is inspired by the environment and new courses she teaches, from BA and MA Textile, Fashion, Biodesign and Material Futures. She is excited to see more projects focused on sustainable material practice and hopefully turn the roof terrace at CSM into a dye garden!
This blog post is a sneak preview of our new series ‘Inside the Technicians Toolbox’, where Flo has shared some of her favourite tools and studio must haves. Keep an eye out for our new series in the coming weeks to see the toolboxes of other technicians.
What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox?
Sharp fabric scissors.
What is your favourite tool?
A range of different natural fabrics which will take natural dyeing in different tones.
What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have?
My collection of tried botanical, kitchen waste and plant materials that come in different sizes, shapes, and shades of colours. They evolve with time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.