This week on Meet the Printmaker, we meet Nastasha from Little__Enn prints. I am in awe of Nastasha's use of colour in her prints and it's lovely finding out more about her! She makes a brilliant point about investing in yourself as a printmaker too.
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create...
Hello, I’m Nastasha, I work full-time in a museum/art gallery in Cambridge and create linocut prints whenever I have the luxury of spare time outside of the 9 to 5!
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
I discovered the print room during the final year of my Fine Art degree, meaning I had just enough time to fall in love with the smell of all the lovely inks and chemicals but not enough time to fully explore the possibilities of printmaking itself. After years of being disconnected from my artistic side, my partner gifted me a bulk set of lino blocks for my birthday in 2018… little did he know that would spark the beginning of a journey for me and I’ve been carving ever since.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
Due to the nature of my day job, I’m often inspired by museum collections such as sculpture or ceramics, along with the usual suspects of still life and florals. I’m also hugely inspired by colour in general. Even if a design is quite simple it can be brought to life depending on your use of colour. In particular, I’m experimenting with gradients and fades and how they can add depth to an image, as well as looking quite impressive with minimal effort!
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
Invest. As someone who is always counting the pennies, I don’t say this lightly. As a beginner, I always reached for the most affordable materials, convincing myself that I’d invest later on when I had more experience under my belt. This meant that for a while, I struggled with mediocre tools and inks that were frustrating to work with, sometimes making me want to quit the process altogether. All it took was spending a little bit more on some quality ink and my favourite Pfeil tool and the whole process became more enjoyable, allowing me to focus on new ideas instead of troubleshooting things that weren’t quite working for me.
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
Honestly, this is a tough question for me as I’m constantly analysing why I’m making prints and who they’re for. I’m largely creating work for myself at the moment, experimenting and enjoying the process. If people resonate with it at all, that’s a real bonus for me. I hope that my prints convey this current sense of playfulness, be it in the design or use of colour. I also love the idea of my prints being useful to others, for example I’ve carved and printed a number of seed packets which have proved to be quite popular this spring/summer.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
100% colour mixing and printing. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing your initial sketches or digital plans come to life as you peel away a print. If you’re working with multiple layers, it’s a total thrill to see each layer align!
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
I print everything by hand from a spare-room-studio in my home. For the best part of a year, I made all my prints cross-legged on the floor with a wooden spoon in hand. I’ve since upgraded to a desk and have dedicated some time to setting up a “proper” work station, meaning I can easily pick up where I left off with projects. It also means I have much less achey joints and hopefully better posture! I’m really lucky and grateful that my spare room gets the best sunlight in the whole house, along with view of the garden and Ely Cathedral. It can be a really inspiring space once it’s had a tidy up but nothing quite compares to the feeling of working alongside other artists in a collaborative studio - something I’m aiming to do more of in 2021.
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?
One of the most challenging parts of printmaking (for me) is trying to figure out what went wrong and why. I’ve spent hours googling why my brayer might not be applying ink evenly or which paper weight is best to print on etc. Luckily, there are some amazing forums and groups out there to answer these endless questions and one of the joys of printmaking is that even “failed” prints can be repurposed in one way or another. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed weaving my misprints together and seeing them in a whole new light.
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’ve somehow managed to avoid reduction printing so that is my next big challenge. I try to make a point of learning a new technique or process with every design I print and I have a list as long as my arm of projects I'd like to try. Working this way means that my printmaking journey is always a learning curve and keeps me engaged along the way.
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?
You can see the majority of my work on Instagram @little__enn. I've been thrown back into work after a year of furlough so my Etsy page is quite low on stock, nevertheless, you can have a nosy here : https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleEnn.