This month on Meet the Printmaker, we meet Tina from Handmade by Haggy. I found myself relating to so much of what Tina talks about in her interview and it's nice to see a fellow 'self-taught' printmaker doing so well- I didn't do it at school either! She learned from an incredible printmaker too- read on to find out who...
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create…
Hi, I’m a Linocut Printmaker based in Faversham in Kent. I make one colour linoprints and multi-colour linoprints using the multi-block method. Many of my prints have a theme of the interplay between nature and place. British wildlife I see around me, as well as Kentish buildings, have made up a large part of my work, but recently I have begun to branch out to other places and most recently, to people.
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
I’ve been linoprinting in earnest for 7 years now. I started after being bought a workshop session as a gift by my partner. Unlike many people, I had never linocut at school, and so had no previous experience, but instantly fell in love with the method and process, and it quickly became my ‘thing’, taking over most of my thoughts and much of my life. My passion for linoprinting is largely based upon the thrill of the DIY nature of this kind of printmaking. The fact that an idea can pop into my head and I can set it down in a drawing and then from that carve a linocut, and from that print multiples of that design is thrilling to me.
I also really love teaching linocut workshops to others. After I had been selling my work on Etsy for a few years, Kent Wildlife Trust contacted me via Etsy to ask if I would teach a linocut workshop at their HQ for the public. I was shocked, but decided to give it a go. It went very well indeed, and I have now delivered workshops to hundreds of people both alone and in collaboration with other organisations such as Medway and Swale Estuary Partnership, The Beaney Museum in Canterbury, Wildwood Trust, and Animate Arts Company. It’s quite magical seeing the joy and wonder that linoprinting brings me sparked in the eyes of others.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
I’m inspired by the county of my birth, Kent, and its beautiful countryside. I have also recently been making some linoprint portraits, some of which are of well known people who have a link to Kent i.e. Derek Jarman and Vita Sackville-West, and others less known, but their story has captured me somehow.
There are many linocut artists I really admire and strive to be as good as. A historical influence is definitely the master printmaker and illustrator Edward Bawden. If you haven’t seen his work, do give him a google. A current linocut artist I admire is Nick Morley a.k.a Linocut Boy. Nick taught me to linocut, and he basically created this monster!
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
I am not sure if I am qualified to give philosophical advice to new printmakers, but I would encourage them to make the things they want to make, the things that make them happy, and to try not to get too het up with comparing themselves and their work to others. It isn’t easy, but it’s definitely better for your sanity. Also, practice makes printmakers.
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
The subject matter of my linoprints are often things that have caused me to pause for thought and created a sense of wonder in me. It would be lovely to think that people perceive that when they look at my prints and can also feel a glimmer of it themselves.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
The drawing and carving of a new design are all-absorbing in the most wonderful way. I feel my most content and satisfied when drawing or carving. I reach a ‘flow’ state doing this, my mind and hands are connected in their endeavour, and it is an unparalleled feeling. I truly feel that drawing and linocutting are essential to my wellbeing.
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
I print at home. I am lucky enough to have a studio in my basement. Although it is a basement it is only half underground because our house is on a hill and so it has a window that looks out onto a small garden and the street. I love having this space at home, it means I can just pop down and have a little tinker with something whenever I want, and it also means I can leave everything out and come back to it when I want to. I have a Cast Iron Victorian Book Press which my partner bought me as a birthday present. It’s a beautiful object, and has its original marbled paintwork still.
Every day feels like a school day when you're a printmaker and failure is not talked about too much online.. what would you say is the most challenging part of printmaking?
The printing itself can be very challenging! It is often infuriating, especially with multi-coloured prints, where each colour is a different lino block and when printing you need to ensure these layers align perfectly to create the intended image. This is known as registration. Many many things can go wrong in the printing: wrongly aligned blocks, too much ink, not enough ink, too much pressure, not enough pressure, stray ink marks you do not want, smudges from fingerprints etc. etc. It can feel like a world of pain and there is always a large stage of the printing process which is problem solving until you work out how to make all elements come together to make the best possible print, and then attempt to repeat that at least 20 times to form an edition. It’s the kind of thing that drives you crazy but you can’t quite walk away from. Overcoming all of the issues to create the print you want is part of the process and definitely part of the addiction of linoprinting!
The business side of it is also challenging: marketing your work, finding places to exhibit, trying to get the pricing right. And for obvious reasons these things are even more challenging in the current economic climate.
What is your next big printmaking challenge? Do you have a plan for the next 12 months or do you take each day as it comes?
I don’t have a big challenge on the horizon. I’m not really one for goals and the like. I just want to make as many linoprints as I can and pass on the joy of linoprinting to as many people as possible. One thing I would like to do is to try to make some more political pieces. I recently made a linoprint of a woman dressed as a Suffragette holding a protest sign that states ‘Same Shit Different Century’. It seems to have resonated with a lot of people for obvious reasons!
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?