This month on Meet the Printmaker, we meet Jasmin from JDO Prints. Jasmin created a crocodile print back in 2021 that remains one of my favourite prints to this day and I've been a fan ever since. We share a love of animals and she has some very useful practical advice for new printmakers too...
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create...
I’m Jasmin and I’m currently a fulltime Master’s student. I live on the beautiful (but rather damp) west coast of Ireland with my husband and two dogs. I am a lino print artist that occasionally dabbles in mono printing, dry point, and most recently wood engraving.
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
Honestly, being broke was the catalyst for my printmaking journey. When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we didn’t have a lot of money and so decided to make as much of what we needed as possible to save money. Amongst other things, we made 5 billion paper flowers, the table settings, the name cards, the candles, the bar, and of course the invitations (which is the only thing relevant to this interview, I’m just one of those odious people that likes to talk incessantly about their wedding that happened an aeon ago). I had heard about lino but never tried it before and thought it would be a great way of making easily replicated homemade invitations. We designed, carved, and printed the block for the invitation together (and subsequently the thank you cards). Something clicked for me and I’ve stuck with it ever since.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
Nature, but specifically animals - I rarely do a print that isn’t of an animal. They’re just so cool and there’s so many of them to choose from that I’m never going to run out of inspiration. My main focus is on animals that are native to the Turks and Caicos Islands, where I grew up, or Ireland, where I currently live, but all animals are welcome. Particularly squid.
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
Always cut away from your fingers, not towards them; don’t get cocky.
Don’t feel like you have to spend a load of money where you’re first get into lino carving. A beginner’s kit is a wonderful thing that will take you a long way. Once you get more into it you can start splashing out on the fancy inks, paper, and carving tools and you can do it in a way that feels right to you. It’ll be pretty intuitive which area you will benefit from improving most as which time as you get more into it.
You don’t have to be “good” at drawing to engage in and enjoy lino printing. If you’ve been thinking about trying lino printing but don’t think you’re good enough at drawing, put that silly notion out of your head and give it a go.
Finally, don’t be afraid of asking other printmakers for advice on things, it’s a very friendly community and most people are happy to help!
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
One of my secondary school teachers (shout out to Miss K) once told me I was a very black and white person and it’s entirely true. I think my prints say that I like animals and I want people to look at them and think oh that’s cool, I like that animal too. I don’t really have a grand artistic intention or hidden depth in my work; I like printmaking and animals so I printmake animals.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
Definitely the carving. It’s so therapeutic, I get entirely lost in it and lose all track of time. That is until I get close the end and decide that my leisurely stroll needs to instantly ascend into an all-out sprint as it absolutely must be completed immediately (patience is a virtue I am yet to acquire).
I’m also rather partial to a good old peal and reveal.
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
I’m all about the elbow grease. My studio is one half of my kitchen table (my interpretation of the word half might be slightly, technically inaccurate) and every print is brought to life with a trusty wooden spoon. I would absolutely love to have a dedicated studio space to spread my mess all over instead of (as well as…?) commandeering every square inch of free space in the kitchen and spare bedroom for drying, storage, and being generally disorganised and messy.
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?
Time is my biggest challenge at the moment. I’m in the middle of completing a Master’s degree in GIS (which is basically the management and analysis of spatial data). I’ve been out of education for 10 years and my academic background is in English Literature which, as the name suggests, isn’t remotely science, computer, or geography based so the learning curve has been gargantuan and at times has felt insurmountable. All my time and energy is consumed by the beast that is GIS, leaving very little opportunity for lino printing and general life. I’ve made multiple well intended attempts at achieving a better balance between studying and creating art, but unfortunately the beast generally triumphs. I have managed to make a couple of prints during this period, however, collages have been my saving grace. Thanks to the influence of the incredible wood engraver Molly Lemon, I make original print collages using misprints, test prints, monoprints etc. They’re a quick, no pressure creative outlet that is helping to keep me sane.
Previously – when university wasn’t consuming my time, energy, soul, and sanity – my biggest challenge was creative block. I went through long periods where I wanted to make all the animals, but also none of the animals. I would spend ages deciding which animal to carve, get tonnes of references and sit down to carve before realising I’d made a terrible choice and didn’t want to do that animal after all. This process would begin again ad nauseum and absolutely nothing got carved. Collaging was my saving grace in these moment too. Sometimes swapping mediums is exactly what is needed to marinate my brain with creative juices.
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?
As per the above answer, I am absolutely taking each day as it comes at the moment. I’d like to try tackling a reduction block again, they intimidate me a little so I avoid them. However, they’d be the perfect thing to try whilst I’m pressed for time as by their very nature, I can only do a little bit of them at a time. I have two different reduction blocks planned with the initial stages carved out, a printing jig made, and the paper torn with ternes burton tabs applied. Everything has been ready for longer than I’d care to admit, so it is really time to bite the bullet and get on with it. Who knows, I may even start them this lifetime.
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?
My Instagram is @jdo_prints, my much-neglected website is: https://jdo-prints.myshopify.com/ and if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Sligo you can also find me at the Weir Gallery and Made in Sligo (inside Lyons Department Store).