I’m an Illustrator, Printmaker and Arts Educator based in Margate. I used to love drawing as child but it took a long time to find my way back to art, spending my twenties in a variety of unfulfilling jobs before studying Digital Design at the London College of Communication. After a few years of being an Artworker and Illustrator I stumbled into the seedy world of printmaking firstly via screenprinting at Print Club London before settling on linocut. For the past five years I’ve been teaching Illustration and Printmaking at the BRIT School in South London at the Saturday school BRIT Kids for 8-18 year olds.
Describe your printmaking process.
Fraught. Sketchbook studies become pen and ink illustrations sometimes with watercolours. Then these get transferred onto old school grey lino via rough pencils. Then I use Indian ink and dipping pen straight onto the lino. It’s water resistant so withstands multiple block cleans although it does sometimes transfer onto lighter colours in the print process but it usually gets covered by subsequent darker layers. I use Ternes Burton registration tabs – I’ve tried some multiple block printing but it stresses me out and I don’t get great results – so the registration tabs are a dream to use. I love carving lino and feel confident doing this part of the process. I can’t say the same about the printing which is where everything tends to go wrong particularly now I’m using a bigger press at Hello Print studios and I’m basically winging everything.
How and where did you learn to print?
I’m self-taught for the most part. I did some linocut printing at college but the tools were bad, the inks were worse and the results were terrible. I didn’t have any initial draw towards the medium. Fifteen years later my partner bought me a basic linocut set and I gradually got hooked. It was a lot of trial and error and bugging linocut artists on Twitter/Instagram about inks and tools etc. I’m still learning. I can get bored if I’m too comfortable with a process so I’m always looking to develop whether it be in scale or technique.
Initially I liked how I could recreate my illustrative linework quite closely in linocut prints. And the DIY inexpensive nature of the medium. Plus over the course of the last ten years I’ve become less and less content relying on computer techniques for finishing artwork. I find colouring and layering on a computer absolutely joyless. With linocut I can make a run of prints without even opening Photoshop. Which has also become prohibitively expensive so it’s a win/win.
Where do you work?
I work between my home studio space and increasingly at Resort/Hello Print Studios in Margate where I share a deskspace and have access to the fantastic printmaking facilities there.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
Tea. Draw a bit. Fret about how much nice paper costs. More tea. Listen to a record. Cut some lino. Adam Buxton podcast. Tea. Crisps. Do some printing. Fret. Get Nick Morley aka Linocutboy to help me out of a horrendous print hole. Tea. Collapse.
How long have you been printmaking?
Screenprinting on and off for about ten years and linocut for about five years. I’m pretty much all linocut now.
What inspires you?
Too much. It means my work isn’t always terribly cohesive but I’m into too many different things. Music is a big inspiration hence my Alphabet of Musicians series from 2018 where I did a two colour reduction print every fortnight for the entire year covering all my favourite musicians, singers, producers and rappers through A to Z. I also love folklore and myths. I self published a collection of illustrated folklore stories called FOLKGORE a few years ago with more effin’ n’ jeffin’, blood n’ guts and nudity. I’d love to go back to that but with linocuts. I curated an Instagram linocut witch themed folklore collection called Linocutcoven with some of my favourite printmakers. I’d love to do more of that and get an exhibition together of the wonderful work artists made. Plus I’m inspired by film, books, art, children’s book, nature etc.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
Hmmm maybe Caligo safewash inks. They were a bit of a breakthrough after printing with water-based inks and getting poor quality prints. That said Ternes Burton registration tabs are probably the most irreplaceable element of my printing process.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I have a mural on the High Street in Thornton Heath which evolved from a public art project with the local council. I led linocut workshops for the local residents on the theme of flora and fauna in the area and we created a series of prints. I then developed the prints into my own linocuts and went onto paint the artwork onto huge panels creating a map of the local area including Kayla the Eagle (representing my football team Crystal Palace).
More recently I did a six colour reduction print inspired by Joan of Arc that was technically very demanding and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I’m on Instagram and I exhibit now and again, most recently in Whistable at the Horsebridge Arts Centre alongside the likes of Laura Boswell, Ben Dickson and Ieuan Edwards. I’d like to sell in galleries and shops more but I tend to underprice my work so by the time you factor in commission I’m better off selling online. I’m working on this though. I also currently sell on Etsy but they’re turning into greedy rob-dogs so I may switch over to Big Cartel soon.
What will we be seeing from you next?
I’m halfway through a big tiger reduction linocut print based on a watercolour illustration I did last year; if it works it could be vying for proudest print achievement. Big IF though as quite a lot has gone wrong so far…
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Be patient. Make prints that draw on your loves rather trying to make work following trends. Be nice. Have a master printmaker on hand for when everything turns to shit.*
* This may not be an option for many people but I highly recommend it.