Printing

In the feedback from my tutor for Part 1, she recommended some exploration of stamp-making and prints. I spent some time researching the work of Ruth Martin and Alan Kitching, which then inspired my experiments with potato printing, eraser printing, and other methods.

When looking at Alan Kitching’s work, I am immediately drawn to the use of colour. The way he uses the form of the letters to create new shapes and direct the viewer’s attention is masterful. My favourite of these pieces is probably the ‘African’ poster. The arrangement of the letters is really interesting and Kitching has used colours that remind me of certain environments, like desert, jungle, and ocean. Kitching also uses digital methods to layer elements and add other text.

Ruth Martin’s work massively appeals to me. I love the way she uses black and white, with splashes of colour and pattern. Her greetings cards were particular favourites of mine; I think they are so playful and engaging (and I probably appreciate them as a primary school teacher too!) I thought her set of rubber stamps were fascinating; the theme of this set seems to be superstitions, with unlucky and lucky items alike on show.

I decided to take some of my tutor’s suggestions and also some inspiration from these two artists when experimenting with printing. These are all ideas I can take forward into other work in the future, but I thoroughly enjoyed some experimentation with no specific goal in mind.

I did some potato printing (which I explored lots in my previous module – Illustration Sketchbooks) based on the text creations of Kitching. I was aiming to replicate the bright colours and texture, while also playing with the arrangement of the letters. Afterwards, I had a quick play around with some text and I am quite pleased with the result.

When I chose the text, I had the idea of a Christmas card design in mind, but this could also be a cover for a Christmas-themed book – perhaps something thrilling due to the cold, harsh colours.

I also tried creating some stamps from old erasers. I used my lino-cutting tools to achieve the carving (it was actually much easier to carve the erasers than the lino) and had a go at printing with them. These are brilliant as I will be able to keep them and reuse them. I was trying to go for odd symbols and items – a sense of whimsy, like Ruth Martin – and stuck to black prints on white paper.

The sponge printing was tricky and quite messy! I ended up creating a moon/’C’ shape that I used in several prints achieving different shapes. It certainly gives a different texture. I think it might work well for layering shapes and creating a new form from letter shapes.

Finally, I tried creating some of my own stamps from different materials. I started trying to cut from some pulp board from the back of a drawing pad, but my design was too intricate and the board was too thick to cut. I tried again with some thick watercolour paper to create a snail design – it did not print too cleanly, but I was pleased with the shape.

I then tried a snail design with string stuck onto cardboard – the string being the raised part that would print. Again, this was quite messy, but I think if enough height was built up, it could work really well and give a nice texture.

I went back to the thick pulp board and cut an ‘A’ shape, which was easier but still tricky! This printed nicely – it gave a cleaner print.

With all my stamps, I tried a few different combinations, which you will have seen through these images. Potato printing will always be a favourite of mine – I think it gives such a pleasing result. I would like to experiment further with the string printing, because I enjoy the texture this creates. I would also like to find some cardboard that is easier to cut but still sturdy enough to create stamps with. The eraser stamps were brilliant! I think I’ll be ordering more erasers and carving my own set of stamps – it might work well to theme the set to use for a certain genre of novel perhaps.

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