Describe your processes.
I tend to think about an idea for a while and scribble mini sketches in the back of my diary until I’m more sure what I want to create – and then it’s over to the computer and my tablet to draw up the idea digitally. Once I’ve got the design ready it’s over to the studio to expose my design onto a screen using light-sensitive emulsion and an exposure unit.
Once I’ve got the design on a screen I enjoy mixing up colours from acrylic paint and screen printing medium – at this point I play around with what colours might work together (although I must admit I’m partial to black against a strong background colour!). During the process I try to capture images and videos to record and share my process.
How and where did you learn to print?
I discovered printmaking at university in my first year when I studied a printmaking module in 2005. I started out learning lots of different types of printmaking, but I especially loved screen printing as it’s so quick and hands on. After university, I continued to develop my printmaking through evening courses at Leeds College of Art, alongside an office job, to keep up my creativity outside work.
I love the screen printing process as it’s so quick and with screen printing medium I can mix up almost any colour to experiment with! It still feels like magic to me when I expose my design on a screen and I really enjoy the hands-on part of exposing a screen. I’m still convinced the design won’t come out on the screen – but it (nearly always!) does.
Where do you work?
I work in different places depending on what part of the process I’m doing – I start and finish in my studio at home (aka the spare room!) with a computer to create my designs and a printing bench to create the finished prints at home. My printing bench is just a garage bench that I’ve painted, with some hinge clamps attached – it works perfectly well, although I have been eyeing up making myself a vacuum bed.
For exposing my screens I take my screens down to Leeds Print Workshop, a local print co-operative in the centre of Leeds. Leeds Print Workshop is a lovely space with lots of great equipment and really knowledgeable printmakers for when I get stuck! It’s also a really nice experience to get to know other printmakers too. However, I do love printing in my studio at home in my own space – I love putting some music on, picking out my colours to print with, and getting stuck in.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
At the moment I work full time in an office job that often means I only get to work in the studio on a weekend (or evenings when the nights are much lighter!). I love having a full Saturday to print in my studio at home – by this point I have my design on the screen and can get really stuck into the process of creating final prints. Firstly, I focus on all the ‘clean’ tasks of getting equipment ready and cutting paper to the right size. Once this is all in place I can focus on mixing colours and screen printing.
How long have you been printmaking?
I’ve been printmaking on and off for 14 years and decided to set up a space at home about 18 months ago in line with setting up a business to sell my prints. My business is called Ink & Bear and has been a great driver for creating more often. It’s great to be able to print at home, but my next step is to be able to complete the end to end process at home by getting hold of a way to expose screens.
What inspires you?
My biggest inspiration to date has been exploring constellations and the night sky. I love travelling and visiting new places and always feel really inspired when I return from a trip. I’ve recently visited Japan and was really inspired by the strong history of printmaking. My number one inspiration is meeting creative people and learning about their creative processes – I always get a buzz and want to get back into the studio to create some more prints.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
I absolutely love getting a new screen for the first time fresh out of the box! I love having screens of different sizes, depending on what project I’m working on. My favourites are the aluminium screens sold by Handprinted. I also love having a variety of sizes of squeegees and have an old wooden one (the first one I ever bought!) that I still use the majority of the time.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
My favourite print is my large circular constellations print. It’s a simple design and I’m most proud of it as it started out as a small design with a few blobs and lines – I’ve developed the design quite a few times over time and now it’s a large square print with lots of detail. I love how using different colours effects the way the print looks – my favourite colour to print it in is either a metallic copper, or a blue to white gradient. I enjoy seeing how the colours mix when I print using a split fountain technique and I love seeing how different they look from the start of the process to the end as the inks get more and more mixed together.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I mostly sell my work on my website (www.inkandbear.co.uk) and at craft and print fairs around Yorkshire. I pop a lot of my work on my Instagram (www.instagram.com/inkandbear) and try to capture the process around making the work too.
What will we be seeing from you next?
I’ve been dreaming up a whale print for a while against a background of constellations. I’ve also got a dream of running classes one day – I think the process of screen printing is very therapeutic and I’d love to be able to share this with others.
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Just jump in and go for it! I spent years using a full-time job as an excuse not to find time to create and now it’s such a nice balance to be able to make something from scratch with such a hands on process.