This week on Meet the Printmaker, we meet Katie from Midori Prints; a new printmaker with a passion for the natural world who juggles her newfound love of printmaking with her Ph.D studies in marine ecology.
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create...
Hi I'm Katie, the printmaker behind Midori Prints. I make lino prints inspired by my love for the natural world, conservation and adventure.
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 starting lino printing at the beginning of UK lockdown 2.0 back in November. I'd booked onto a lino printed Christmas cards workshop, but it got cancelled due to lockdown. I decided to buy a beginner kit and give it a go anyway and I loved it! So I'm new to this and very much still learning. I'm in my final year of a marine ecology Ph.D which keeps me busy day to day. Printmaking is an evening and weekend hobby, although I'd love to devote more time to it.
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
I hadn't really devoted any time to creating art since my art GCSE as I'd been so busy studying, travelling and doing fieldwork for research. I'd sort of just assumed that wasn't very good at it and I couldn't draw or paint. Lockdown gave me a time to explore my creativity and I revisited drawing, painting, embroidery etc. I was enjoying making things but it wasn't until I started lino printing that I felt I'd found the medium for me, and it just stuck! I love that even a relatively simple drawing/ design can become and interesting print, allowing you to build up your skills whilst still achieving satisfying and fun results.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
I love landscape photography, and I'm inspired by photographs I've taken whilst visiting some amazing places. I've been really lucky to have been able to travel with my biology research and I spend as much time as possible outdoors locally. This is reflected in my prints which are of animals I've seen whilst doing fieldwork, views I've seen hiking, and me swimming in my favourite local wild swimming spots. Basically I just make prints of all the things I love!
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
Being new to printmaking myself, I would firstly say you don't need expensive tools and materials to begin with. With lino printing it's possible to make incredible prints with just a few basic materials, and then gradually build up better tools as time goes on and as your skills grow. I would also say you don't need to be the best at drawing, and don't worry about your prints being 'perfect'. I don't really think it matters if prints don't have a clean background, or if the ink is slightly uneven - it adds character and makes it unique. Just draw something, carve it, and see what happens- that's what I do!
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
I think my prints probably show that I'm happiest outdoors or underwater- and that would be correct! I'd love it if people could look at my prints and be reminded of good memories of past adventures or inspiration for new ones!
Are your prints influenced by external events (social, political) or do you prefer your work to remain neutral?
I would love it if my prints had a more environmental message- after all I'm a conservation biologist. The natural world is threatened by climate change and other human influences, and it's really important that people begin to care and do something about it. I've made one print on the bycatch of threatened sea birds by longline trawlers, and some of my prints have climate change and environmental conservation relevant captions on my Instagram. However, I'm going to try and bring this into my prints more in the future.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
I love drawing out the ideas and carving the design but I would have to say my favourite part would be the to the peel reveal and the thrill of seeing how the first print turns out. This is especially true when making reduction prints, I just love seeing how the layers build up to gradually show the print I had in my mind.
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
I have a large kitchen table where I do the majority of my printmaking and all my tools and materials are scattered throughout the house wherever they'll fit. I've not attempted any larger prints as I would struggle to find the space (although there are some amazing home printmakers who make large prints- it's admirable). It's very annoying having to constantly pack everything away so a studio would be the absolute dream- maybe one day!
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?
It's so frustrating when things aren't going the way I want, and the print doesn't look how I imagined it to in my head. Especially with reduction prints, it's tempting to just give up mid way through, but I think I just need to take a little time away from it and come back to it, and generally it's much better than I remembered. Some of the stuff I really didn't like when I first printed it has really grown on me, so it's important not to give up!
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'm trying not to set myself any large printmaking goals as I already have the pressure of finishing my Ph.D this year and would like to keep it enjoyable, not stressful. In general, I'd say I'd like to keep challenging myself by learning new techniques and as I mentioned above, creating prints with more of a conservation message.
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?
What is your favourite print (of your own)?
My 'Woodland Dip' waterfall wild swimming print, it just turned out exactly how I imagined it.
Music/podcasts when you're creating or silence?
I love creating to music but sometimes it's quite peaceful to carve in silence late at night.
Printing press or by hand?
Both! I recently got an A4 WoodZilla press which is amazing (my back is thanking me) but sometimes it's easier by hand.
If you could meet any artist (alive or dead), who would it be?
Ernst Haeckel - biological diagrams are incredible
One word to sum up your style?