Meet the Maker: Laura Boswell
Trained in Japan, Laura Boswell is a printmaker specialising in rural landscape, working in classical Japanese water based woodblock and reduction linocut.
She divides her time between printmaking, teaching, writing a monthly page for Artist and Illustrators Magazine and public art. She has work in national collections including the House of Lords and the National Library of Wales. Learn more about Laura and her work here:
Describe your processes.
I specialise in relief printing, specifically reduction linocut and Japanese watercolour woodblock and my subject matter is the rural and coastal landscape, usually images of the UK, but sometimes from my visits to Japan
How and where did you learn printmaking?
I specialised in printmaking during the final year of my joint visual arts/art history degree at Aberystwyth University and went on to learn Japanese woodblock during an artist residency in Japan in 2009
Why Lino and Japanese woodblock?
I gravitated towards linocut at university because I liked the bold colours and graphic quality of the medium, also because it was something I could self
teach – I was the only one in my year to work in printmaking so I spent a lot of time working alone! Japanese woodblock I discovered through learning about the residency offered to printmakers through the Nagasawa Art Programme. It is a little known process in the UK and a great privilege to have learned in Japan.
Where do you work?
I draw and photograph out in the landscape, but most of my work is done in my studio where I turn my sketches into ‘design drawings’ suitable for making a print. The printing is all done in my studio at home.
Describe a typical day at work.
I usually begin the day at about 8.30 with answering emails and catching up on any paperwork which needs doing – gallery admin, teaching duties etc. Then, if I am working in the studio, I will go and begin cutting and printing. If I am working on lino, I may be juggling three or four prints at once. With Japanese woodblock I am usually only working on a single print at a time. Sometimes I could have a one to one day with a student in my studio in which case I spend the day both teaching and acting as a technician to facilitate the student’s printing. If I am alone I will also answer mails if needed through the day and also update Facebook which is an important part of my marketing: I treat it as my virtual open studio and keep followers up to date with work and any useful hints and tips about printmaking. My working day usually finishes around 7pm.
What inspires you?
Lots of things, but usually it begins with colour and shape. I spend a lot of time looking at other artists, including lots of artists from the past, not necessarily printmakers. I am also constantly looking at the landscape trying to work out the essence of shapes: what makes a cloud different from a tree etc. Inspiration comes from all over – I am often interested in textiles and product design, or it could be a film, car drives, walks, museum visits. Almost anywhere, any time.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
I would have to say the Japanese printing brushes I use. I like that their design has barely changed since the tenth century and I have my pick between summer deer hair, winter horse hair and other natural bristle brushes.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
That’s hard to say as, once the work is created, I am already falling in love with my next project. There are a couple of prints that I did in Japan that I am very fond of and proud to have printed successfully. Mrs Sasuka’s Garden and Bluebells, Wet Spring were both so tricky to design and print that I am proud to have printed both.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I sell on line, in galleries, at my Open Studios and art fairs. My web site has an on-line gallery and always has details of upcoming events and a list of galleries that show my work
What will we be seeing from Laura Boswell next?
At the moment I am very seduced by British birds. I have just done a series of linocut designs which will be turned into large enamel panels for an arts trail on the Grand Union Canal. They feature local water birds and I am now expanding that series to other birds while keeping the same simplicity of design
Do you have any advice for other printmakers, designers and creatives?
I would say that you have to be businesslike and pragmatic if you are a self employed artist like me. I see myself as running a small business with all the admin, marketing and paperwork that that entails. To me that is part and parcel of being a professional artist and is best done efficiently and regularly as part of the job alongside the creative time in the studio. The other bit of advice is to be generous with your knowledge and advice: what goes around, comes around and I think openness and sharing is the best way to build a good reputation, which in turn leads to a successful career as a self employed artist. See more of Laura’s work on her website