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Meet the Maker: Susan Davies

Meet the Maker: Susan Davies

Hello, my name is Susan and I’m a printmaker/illustrator living in West Sussex with my Italian husband and little boy. I moved back to the UK 6 years ago after living abroad in Rome and Barcelona for 20 years.

Describe your printmaking process.

I work mainly in collagraph and intaglio. I also like to combine mediums, often using drawing, ink, embossing and hand embellishing areas.

The process involves making a plate using a thick card. I normally draw directly onto the card from a drawing/design and use a scalpel and start to carve and tear areas to form textured raised areas and deeper grooves and marks which will pick up the ink. Paper/textiles/PVA/carborundum/string etc can also be added to create the textures required. The plate is then coated in sealing wax to make it waterproof. It is inked and rubbed off using scrim and tissue paper to create tones in colour. It is then passed through the press.

How and where did you learn to print?

I did an art foundation course followed by a textiles degree at Loughborough University. This is where I learnt to screen print, lino print, a little bit of etching and drypoint and learned some more commercial elements of printed textiles, such as repeat patterns and using CAD.

The course was multi-disciplinary. The first year gave us the opportunity to try print, weave or textile art, then specialising in the second year. It was a fabulous course, giving us freedom, but also structure towards the end and a large trade fair in London and an exhibition at the Mall Galleries where we exhibited our work.

I returned to printmaking after many years, after I had my son. I found it was a way to be creative again using few materials and little space. I fell in love with the process and have slowly taught myself how to make collagraph.

Why Printmaking?

Printmaking enables me to combine different mediums, embossing, ink, hand embellishments and my love of drawing. These reveal subtle textures, marks and layers, often evoking more depth in a piece. I also enjoy the surprise element that comes with pulling each print and the labour-intensive process. I often find that I enjoy making the plates as much as inking and printing.

Where do you work?

I work from my studio in my parents’ garden. It is very basic! But it is a huge space and free! It also gives me an area for my beautiful new Gunning etching press, a drying area, an inking area and lots of storage.

Describe a typical day in your studio

I have slowly started to work full time as a printmaker. A typical day varies greatly. If I have some finished plates I will drive the short distance to my studio to start on inking and printing editions. But I often work from my dining table at home when I’m carving plates, drawing and doing admin. My time also revolves heavily around school runs and pick up!

How long have you been printmaking?

I have been printmaking for 2.5 years.

What inspires you?

The main inspiration for my work is my family and our mixed Korean, Italian, British heritage. Where we began and our journey along the way. My little dark-haired son is often depicted in my work. I often depict stories in my prints; animals or landscapes, a nursery rhyme or a tale or a memory. Many times, I will slice the plate up into pieces that can be inked separately and puzzled together to tell a story.

What is your favourite printmaking purchase?

I have recently purchased a Gunning etching press which has changed my whole printmaking process. The difference in the details of my prints is remarkable. It’s wonderful.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I have recently created six small winter landscapes made from a six plate collagraph. Each tiny piece interlinks to form one whole piece but can be layered individually in different combinations to form different compositions.

I’m also proud of the pieces that manage to come together at the end. I often make a plate that I feel will work but is often impossible to print. The pieces that work design-wise and print easily are like magic.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

I sell my work through my Etsy shop.

What will we be seeing from you next?

I have several projects coming up, focusing more on original, larger pieces for galleries and shops.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

My advice to other printmakers would be to continue what you truly enjoy. Don’t compare yourself to others and have the confidence to keep trying different techniques and mediums. Truly absorb yourself in the process.

To see more from Susan, follow her on Instagram.

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