How and where did you learn to print?
I studied Fine Art at the Slade for my BA but never even knew the print room existed, which is such a shame. I ended up in the media department making films instead, however, there was something about printmaking that always intrigued me so in my late 20’s I took an etching course at the Royal Drawing School, and I’ve never looked back.
I love its versatility and the whole physicality of it. There are just limitless possibilities within printmaking that I get so excited about. I’m a naturally impatient person and as printmaking is process orientated, it has enabled me to see the benefits of taking my time, not rushing and reflecting as I go. I will also never ever tire of pulling back a print for the first time and seeing what surprises it has in store. It always feels a bit like magic!
Where do you work?
I have a studio in my garden which is a dream. I lived in London for 22 years and I had a studio in Hackney for a time that I never went to, and which caused me lots of guilt (and lots of wasted money!) During my last few years in London, I just printed in my bedroom, and I was amazed at how much I could get done in such a small space.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
I’m quite disciplined when it comes to my working day. Spending 4 years at Art school, where I was pretty much left alone for the whole time meant that I had to develop an ability to structure my own time and work independently. I get up and go for a run with Marple in the woods, listen to a podcast and plan my day. After breakfast I’m in the studio where I prioritise packing orders, answering emails and DM’s. I also plan and post my Instagram post for the day. Instagram is a massive part of my business and a big part of my work. After lunch is where I get down to the creative stuff – carving and drawing. At the moment, I’m writing a book about it so there is a lot to do for that. I’m pretty much always finished by 5pm which is Marple’s teatime. I sit down with a cuppa and post my daily story. I rarely work past 5pm, I have to be strict about this otherwise I would keep working. When you work from home it’s so hard to switch off so for the past few years, I’ve been working on setting boundaries and ensuring that I have time off. It’s still a work in progress though!
How long have you been printmaking?
I started printmaking when I was 29, I’m 46 now so umm – 17 years.
What inspires you?
Oh goodness, pretty much everything! I consider myself a storyteller so it’s my everyday life that inspires me. I always have my sketchbook with me, on the lookout for interesting incidents or landscapes. My work is autobiographical, it’s the way I process and make sense of my life – it’s a bit like a visual diary. For example, when I was in my 30’s I undertook a 3-month period of internet dating. I found the only way to get to grips with the experience was to draw each date and this ended up turning into a series of etchings called ‘A Box of Dates’.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
It must be Pandora, my Gunning etching press from Ironbridge printmakers. I saved up for it for a year and was finally able to treat myself earlier this year. It has transformed my practice. Before, I was using an old A3 press, and it was so hard to get the right pressure for my linocuts but now they are pretty much perfect every time. The best purchase I’ve ever made (apart from Marple of course!).
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I think it’s my Japan series. I took a solo trip to Japan in 2019 for 3 weeks, it was a totally wonderful and completely overwhelming experience. When I got back, I wanted to document the whole trip to commit it to memory and to share it with others. I ended up making a linocut for every day I was there, telling a daily story of my adventures.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I have an online shop that can be found on my website.
What will we be seeing from you next?
As I mentioned earlier – I’m writing a book! Bloomsbury Publishing approached me in January to see if I would be interested in writing a book about linocut. After collecting my jaw from the floor, I said yes, and I’m now fully immersed in the process. All the projects start with a drawing, something I’m passionate about.
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
I’m often asked, ‘how do I find my style?’ and my advice is to draw. We often lose confidence in our drawing ability at an early age, we’re taught that if it doesn’t look like what it is we are drawing, then it isn’t any good. I truly believe we can all draw, we all have our own unique way of mark-making – like our handwriting. Through drawing, I think we can discover how we see the world. So my advice is to try and ignore the self-critical voice in your head that says you can’t draw and get out there with your sketchbook and pencil and see what happens!
To see more from Sam follow her on Instagram.