This week on Meet the Printmaker, we meet fellow Norfolk linocut printmaker Safi from Safi Butler Art. I've been lucky enough to attend several markets with Safi and her beautiful prints and cards are always super popular! Keep reading to find out more about her inspirations and why she loves linocut...
Please introduce yourself and what kind of prints you create...
I'm a Norwich based printmaker, making bold and bright lino prints, usually inspired by wildlife and the natural world.
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 am a part-time printmaker, but would love to be able to afford to go full time. Sadly, bills need to be paid and I'm not in a place to be able to do that just yet. My degree is in Sculpture, but when I finished my BA I quickly realised that wasn't a practical field in terms of studio space, so I moved into printmaking, which I can do from my dining room table if needed.
What was the spark that first got you hooked on printmaking? What is it about your medium that draws you in each day?
I suppose I was drawn to lino cutting rather than other print mediums because of the physical element to it. My degree being sculpture, I like being quite hands on with my work, and cutting lino feels a bit like a sculptural technique.
What inspires you? What or who would you say your biggest influences are?
I'm hugely inspired by other creative people. I love the community of makers that I've found over lockdown this last year. I've made some great friends who are all passionate about what they make, which is a real motivator.
If you could give some advice to new printmakers, what would be your most useful tips for beginners?
I would say to find at least one cutting tool you love - spend a bit extra and buy a good quality cutter. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of lino - I use the softcut stuff because it's kinder on my wrists, even though I know in some circles it can be looked down on as inferior to the classic grey lino. Don't be put off by what other people say - find your own preferences and do what makes you happy.
What do your prints say about you? How do you want people to feel when they look at your prints?
I want my prints to bring some joy, whether it be a reminder of the holiday they took at the coast, or a reflection of how daft cats can be. I like to think my work makes people smile.
Are your prints influenced by external events (social, political) or do you prefer your work to remain neutral?
My work is definitely not political. I choose a subject matter because I like it, and I hope other people will like it too.
Do you have a favourite part of the printmaking process? What brings you the most joy?
That first 'peel reveal' is always the most exciting part. Inking up the plate for the first time, and then peeling back the paper to reveal how it's turned out.
How do you print? Do you have access to a studio or are you a home printmaker?
I have a garden studio - a converted potting shed. I do have a Victorian book press in there, but I tend to mostly hand press using a small wooden baren. In the winter months though I tend to do the cutting at the dining room table, and just nip out there to print - I don't have electricity in the studio so it can be a bit damp and chilly!
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 recently discovered how blunt my cutter was when I bought myself a new one. All this time I've been working with a blunt blade! I definitely need to invest in a sharpening block. It's always devastating when you cut away something you didn't mean to. I have learnt to keep going though and not abandon the work. You can always add the missing bit by hand after printing! I've actually done this on a pet portrait commission where I cut too much away. I added in some 'fur' by hand afterwards using the edge of a small bit of cardboard dipped in ink. The piece was saved by doing that!
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?
Because I work part time and also have a 20-month old toddler, I tend to take each day as it comes. I don't have any major plans, although will be attending quite a few creative fairs over the next year, so I need to keep on top of turning my prints into cards and giftware. I'm also considering a joint exhibition with a couple of other artist friends, so hopefully we will get organised later in the year.
Where can people find out more about you and your prints?
What is your favourite print (of your own)? Possibly 'Sammy & Sasha' - it's of two tabby cats and was a tricky one to cut. It's actually my Instagram avatar and is on my business cards.
Music/podcasts when you're creating or silence? Depends on my mood - radio 6 often, or the birds in the garden!
Printing press or by hand? Both
If you could meet any artist (alive or dead), who would it be? Grayson Perry
One word to sum up your style? Bold