This week on Meet the Printmaker, we meet Jo Boddy; second career printmaker and cloud lover (me too!) who tells us about her favourite places and her innovative home studio.
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create...
I'm Jo and I am currently focussing on developing my linocut printmaking skills. I feel this is where my future lies. I'm inspired by nature, especially water be it in a body or suspended in clouds.
How long have you been a printmaker? Is it a full-time career for you or a lovely hobby? If you are a full-time printmaker, what does a typical day for you look like?
I'm a 'second career' printmaker. I didn't go back to my previous job as an FE lecturer after my first child was born almost 7 years ago. When the second was born two years later I was getting to the point where I needed to do something other than just be a mum. By his first birthday I'd enrolled on an evening painting course, just once a week for a couple of hours. That led to enrolling onto the FDAD course at West Dean College in September 2018. It seemed a perfect fit, 10 short courses over 2 years. Over the past could of years I've veered into printmaking above all other creative forms.
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
One of the first West Dean courses I did was a beginner weekend in silk screen printing. I was hooked! Screen printing at home wasn't really practical but then I discovered monoprints in a later course and this lead to signing up for a general printmaking course at South Hill Park once my youngest child was a pre-school for a whole day. I've tried monoprints, drypoint, collagraph and linocutting. I adored the look and process of collagraphs but they're not practical for me to do at home. I love linocuts and woodcuts so I want to develop these skills, and the added bonus is that I can do this at home in my own time.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
I started reading Artist and Illustrators magazine and my favourite feature quickly became Laura Boswell's column as I loved the new image that would accompany it. Her series of films are so helpful and inspiring. It helps that I adore her style so frequently look at her work for ideas to inform what might be possible in my prints. I also love Norman Ackroyd and am lucky enough to have parents who own a few of his prints. My parents have been collecting prints by Chris Orr for as long as I can remember. I think I grew up in a house filled with art, but especially with prints, so I'm probably pre-disposed to enjoy prints.
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
I feel like I'm still such a beginner myself that I am barely able to offer advice to others, but the one thing I have definitely benefitted from is trying out lots of different types of printmaking and finding what suits me, my style, my capabilities and keeps me thinking and experimenting. I feel like I've barely begun with my linocuts but that I've done a lot of playing with ink and plates in other mediums that helps with what I'm doing now. Try everything possible!
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
I have favourite places, as everyone does, but some of these places are generic. My favourite beach might remind you of yours. My forest might remind you of a wonderful time in a completely different forest. Above all I adore clouds, clouds can make the most mundane view spectacular. I want people to feel 'nature' when they look at my prints. Humans think we're so important, sometimes I think we need to stop and just marvel at a fleeting moment when the sun catches a cloud and creates something far more beautiful and amazing than we ever could.
Are your prints influenced by external events (social, political) or do you prefer your work to remain neutral?
At the moment I just want to work on creating beautiful prints inspired by nature. I try to be environmentally aware though (my parents regularly dragged us to the bottle bank long before recycling was a doorstep thing). I have a feeling that my interest in natural forms etc. comes from the awareness that we've removed a lot of nature. I know that my latest prints of the forest are not of a natural forest, it's a managed forest and that does bug me slightly! For now I don't think I'm ready to get political in my work but I wouldn't say it will never happen.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
This is probably a very common answer but pulling that first print.... ooh it's so exciting!! You've had the idea, worked and re-worked the design drawing, committed it to the plate, and then you pull that first print! Since I work in reduction often the first print is quite boring, it might not even have any cuts made yet but still, it's the beginning, it's started and it's so full of hope and potential!
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
I print at home, on my kitchen table. I'm very lucky that we did an extension a couple of years ago and have this huge table that seats 8 before it's extended! It's in front of 4 panel bifold doors facing east so full of light, especially in the morning. Next door we now have a lovely utility room which I've rather taken over. I've installed wires for hanging prints to dry under the top cupboards, one cupboard is wholly devoted to my kit and my big wooden jig that I use to hold the lino and have my registration tabs on slides neatly into the gap on top of the washing machine under the unit. Everything is packed in such a way that I can stick a cloth on the table, bring out a box of inks, a box of rollers, the jig and hey presto, the kitchen is now a studio!
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?
I'm always gutted when I make the stupid mistake of not cleaning around the lino properly and end up with marks outside the image, or I drop part of the paper onto the inked lino when trying to attach it to the registration tabs. Mistakes like that are so common but seriously annoying! Other than that I think I need to watch my colour mixing and testing more, I could definitely have had a couple of better results if I'd take more time to test colours properly. I have a habit of going too dark too quickly. I now try to test the colour first and not be afraid to change it. Instinct is very important... if it feels wrong I need to remember that it probably is and to STOP!
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?
2020 was meant to be my big year.... towards the end of the year I did progress but I'm now hoping that 2021 will be the year that I: 1. Finish my FDAD at West Dean 2. Get into an exhibition or two 3. Attend some craft fairs and enjoy talking to people face to face, and hopefully sell some prints and cards!
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?
Little question round..
What is your favourite print (of your own)? Silver Seas collagraph
Music/podcasts when you're creating or silence? Radio 4 or Ask an Artist podcast
Printing press or by hand? Pin press (but I'd love an albion!)
If you could meet any artist (alive or dead), who would it be? Rembrant
One word to sum up your style? Eclectic