Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm afraid there's no print for you all today.  With all the winter festivities printmaking has had to take a bit of a backseat.  I just wanted to round up 2014 by sharing with you some of my personal highlights from the last 12 months. It has been a busy old year in Prints Regent HQ and so much has changed!

The big happy highlights are:

I graduated from university - something I never thought I would do

I finally managed to take a holiday outside the UK - Lino's of this are still in the works

I both left a job and landed a job

I moved from Falmouth back to home and then from home back to Falmouth

I moved in with Boyf and his lovely housemates

I've been more active on blog-social networking and learnt so much about printmaking from other bloggers

And finally I have actually been keeping to my 2014 New Years Resolution of updating this blog at least once a month (well virtually, everyone's allowed one slip right?!) - something I hope to continue in 2015

I've had a truly lucky year and have lots of things to be thankful for but with every New Year comes greater challenges in life and I wish you all the courage, hope and faith to overcome any hurdles you may face.

I hope you have a fantastic New Year and ring it in in style!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Autumn Almanac #3 - Baby It's Cold Outside

Since moving to Cornwall for university the beginning of the Christmas period has always been marked by the Truro City of Lights parade (even if it is in mid-November).  All three years I was at university I stood in the cold to watch the procession of volunteers trudge, march and dance though whatever weather condition a Cornish November could throw at them.  Having graduated last July I was a bit disappointed at the thought of missing it this year when out of the blue (absolutely no cajoling necessary) Boyf sent me a message offering to take me (although he obviously regretted his generosity and selflessness as I skipped off to the train station with a slightly grumbly Bf in tow).

I took a whole host of photos throughout the night to work from and I'm sure you can expect a selection of lino cuts to come from them.  This is the first one I completed. I had some unusual problems getting the ink to adhere to the paper which explains the slightly mottled effect.  Having said that, I really like the vintage effect it gives this print. I only wish I knew how I did it so I might be able to recreate it another day! This is a pretty simple and sweet design and I think it would make a lovely Xmas/Thank you card for that special someone who gave up his evening to make mine awesome!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

It's almost my favourite time of year again! All the lights are twinkling, the fires are crackling and the chestnuts are roasting.  This year I'm taking part in a Christmas Blog Hop so be sure to follow the link and check out some of the other wonderful crafting ideas!

The beginning of December means starting to think about Xmas cards for my family and friends.  This year I wanted to design something a little less traditional, so left the mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas Wreaths to those more talented artists and went for something simple but effective.  I wanted to strip back the idea of homemade cards to what they used to be when I was younger; a way to show those I love that I appreciate them. Using this principle I decided I wanted to make this years design as simple as possible. It would not be featuring any intricate texture or detail, just a simple image with lots of bold patterns similar to something I would have made when I was a child.  Simple, no fuss, black and white... Well almost.

Sweaters Hung By The Chimney With Care

I hope everyone likes receiving these cute little winter jumper designs!  They came out just the way I hoped they would. Now all I need is a bit of crisp winter weather to deliver them in!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Autumn Almanac #2 - Sweets for my Sweet

So whilst catching up on work from Autumn (which will be in the next post) I was also working on Boyf's birthday prezzies! I have to admit sometimes I get a little over excited when it comes to his birthday and I like to spoil him a little.  It's nothing he doesn't deserve though!

I went a little more traditional with his card this year than I did last year and put together a little study of lots of tasty treats.

I'm really proud of the way this design turned out and whilst I had the cutters out decided to try a little mixed media experiment to accompany his birthday present too.  I know to a lot of people a selection of books on maps might not seem that exciting but if I've learnt anything from our frequent Reddit sessions it's that he loves browsing them, so hopefully he will feel the same about these books!  As a little bonus and inspired by a piece of fabric I found squirreled away in a box, I made him an overly sentimental and soppy message (sometimes I just can't help it). I'll be the first to admit I sometimes have problems expressing my emotions on anything, not just when it comes to how I feel about him.  I tend to store all the soppiness up and let it out in one smushy splurge. So when I found a piece of treasure map fabric I just couldn't resist! I had a little scrap of Lino left over from the piece I'd used to make his card that seemed the perfect size to cut a message in.  Having experimented printing on different textures before I immediately opted for canvas to give a vintage feel and therefore knew I had to make the print very clear and bold.  After trawling indie-hipster-girl Tumblr's to no avail I was forced to tap into my own sentimentality and imagination. Boyfriend is genuinely the most precious thing in my life and spending time with him is the most valuable way to while away the hours. To me he's a treasure, it's really that simple. I put together a small printed label to read "All Treasure Maps Lead Back To You" and decorated it with a couple of graphic diamond shapes.  This was then appliqued onto the map fabric and finally I embroidered a route to the pirates treasure.

As a small project this was simple and inexpensive but ultimately I think pretty effective (even if it was very gushy).  Lets just hope he likes it... after he's finished laughing at my cheesiness anyway!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Autumn Almanac #1

As promised here is the start of my Autumn reminiscence.

Whereas summer passed in a haze of end of year parties, graduation and long hours sitting in an Ice-Cream van, autumn hit me with some serious life decisions.  I seemed to spend a considerable amount of time filling in job applications and traveling to interviews (at the minute unfortunately to no avail).  Autumn's had its fair share of excitement and adventure too though!

Last September I was lucky enough to go on a short holiday to Madrid (they'll be more on this in a later post), partly because I wanted a break from work, mostly because I wanted to spend some time with Boyfriend but also to meet BF's mother.  As much as I was excited to see Madrid and spend some much needed time with BF (this long distance thing can be hard but I'm more than confident we can make it work) I was also quite nervous about meeting his mum.  Previously I've never been much of a 'relationship person' and had never been faced with a 'meet the parents' scenario until his father visited England last February. 

Keen to make a good impression and to show how appreciative I was that she'd already agreed to welcome me into her home without ever having set eyes on me and for the beautiful graduation present she left for me last July (before you say anything I did enquire about the possibility/necessity of sending a thank you card in July) I made a print to put on a thank you card for her.  I struggled to decide on an image because I'd never met BF's mother and wasn't sure about her personal interests. In the end I figured you can't really go wrong with a simple rose.  I experimented with a couple of colours to decide what looked best. 

Although the colours don't correspond perfectly on the last image, I really liked the relaxed blending over the leaves and gentle fade into the rich red of the petals. I hope she liked it (and me for that matter)!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

It's spooky how time flies

I feel I've neglected this blog a little this season, when I was thrown kicking and screaming from the security of university into the harsh realities of the real world a lot happened rather quickly and I struggled to keep up with everything! I don't know where the time has gone this summer, it's crazy that we're already half way through Autumn and I can't believe it's already Halloween.  I've certainly got some catching up to be doing!  So over the next few weeks I'm going to be posting my highlights from the whole of Autumn.

To begin my little series of Autumn highlights I thought I may as well start at the end.... well present...  You'll see what I mean.

With October comes the typical Halloween festivities. I don't normally get so excited about this particular holiday but I've been trying to make more of an effort for the last couple of years because Boyf likes it so much. If he tries to get excited about Christmas for me it's only fair I return the favour for one of his favourite holidays too!

Hope everybody has a fantastic night however you decide to spend it :) x

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Playing with the meaning of ink

This is something I've been working on for a while.  For a long time I've wanted a tattoo but equally I wanted it to mark a landmark in my life and to have some meaning behind it. A little over a year ago I decided that should be when (or if) I graduate.  I sometimes felt that people around me didn't think I could do it and I have to admit on several occasions I believed that myself and wanted to quit.  I always felt that I was only at a top university because I 'ticked boxes' not because I deserved my place there. However, despite several emotional breakdowns between starting and finishing my degree, I persevered and on Friday 13th June (of all days) I learnt that in July I would be graduating with a 2:1in history from the University of Exeter after having achieved a first in my dissertation.  This may not necessarily be as high as I wanted it to be but I know that I worked damn hard and couldn't have put anything more into it.

To celebrate I finally plucked up the courage to get a tattoo (with only a little hand-holding required from my SO).  It's one I designed myself and features a compass pointing Southwest.  I was born, grew up (physically and emotionally, despite remaining ridiculously small) and was educated here.  It's where I've been both happiest and saddest and, without wanting to sound too cliched, it's where I really found myself.  I don't know where life's going to take me, maybe somewhere else in the country or perhaps across the globe but Southwest England will always hold fond memories and be the place I think of as home. 

(Sorry about the poor quality photo 
but it's pretty difficult to get an undistorted 
image of your own back haha!)

The first image shows my original design, the second is the work of the tattoo artist and the third is obviously the final product (emblazoned on my pasty white skin)

The picture really doesn't do the piece justice and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I owe a big thank you to the wonderful Josie at Shaded Lady Tattoos for taking such good care of me! And as you can see there's clearly a reason the shops waiting list is so big!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Just a quick little post for August!

Unfortunately (well for this blog anyway) August is one of our busiest months at work, we've been rushed off our feet! My job definitely has it's plus sides: working by the seaside, meeting lots of people and a little free ice-cream (obviously) but unluckily working this month also meant missing my friends birthday celebrations at her home in Norfolk.  I was really disappointed to be missing her big day, so along with my boyfriend we decided to buy her a little gift and I'd make a card.  After a couple of discussions about what she might like, bf went off to the shops (he's much better at gift buying anyway) and I set to work on a cute little design for the card. Hope she liked it!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Alternative Materials

One of the things I love about art is that you never stop learning.  When I was at university I didn't have much time to experiment with my printing press. As much as I wanted to take it back to university with me lugging a huge amount of cast iron across the county just wasn't practical and even if I had been possible I doubt I would have wanted to go back to writing history essays when I could spend my days playing with ink instead! Now I've moved back home to my parents house I have all the time in the world (well employed work permitting) to tryout new techniques and new materials.

One of the most important things a printing press allows is to experiment with what you're printing on.  Printing by hand limits you almost exclusively to very basic printer paper.  However, now with less chance of pesky smudges and able to add extra pressure to the print a whole world of array of textured surfaces.

Here's the original print.

It's something I created for a bit of fun and something I just genuinely thought I'd enjoy cutting. It's quite basic and bold and therefore ideal for testing out new techniques!

 First I tried canvas.

I really like the texture that shows through the image and gives the design a vintage feel.  I think this works particularly well with this print as it has a sort of 'ancient treasure map' quality. Like something that would mark the location of a dangerous sea monster or might adorn a windrose.

 Then I experimented printing on wood.

It took a little while to find out the best type of board to print on but finally I found something lurking in a scrap bag in our back garden! Really I don't know why I didn't look there first.  I printed this one on a piece of plywood. I really like how it's made the lines softer and more gentle as the ink has been absorbed by the wood.


This is something I've really enjoyed playing with and will be definitely looking to do again once I've found some more materials :)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

It's summer whether the weather likes it or not!

Wow it's really been a while since I've posted anything! I guess what with finishing university, moving back home and returning to my summer job at a local ice-cream company I haven't had much time for printing.

I've been pretty keen to utilize some of the skills I've learnt recently so whipped up this summery little number over a couple of my days off.  I really think I've cracked how to get some great results from gradient printing now.  As much as I liked my dainty little perfume bottles I think this technique works much better.  Using a larger printing block for the colour and then overlaying the detail in a darker ink makes the gradual contrasts in colour much more visible and I think more effective.

Making the templates

Friday, 23 May 2014

An Unexpected Discovery

Whilst I was having a dig around for a bit of spare lino I found a block I'd cut, probably several years ago, and never got around to printing. Assuming at the time I'd had a reason to abandon it I didn't really hold particularly high hopes for this piece.  On a whim I decided to print it anyway and was hugely surprised at the results!

I am really pleased with the design and am very happy the impression of volume I managed to capture in the hair.  In general I like how restful the character looks.  Previous designs involving characters were frequently more active, featuring dancers or children at play but I'm particularly pleased with the calm expression and relaxed stance of the woman in this piece.  

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Personal Milestones

So against all odds (and by that I obviously mean my complete lack of relationship skills) I've reached my one year anniversary with my boyfriend.  You've probably gathered by now that I'm not a hugely romantic person and sometimes I find it difficult to deal with the emotional side of things but I wanted to show him just how much I genuinely appreciate him.  Knowing this date was approaching I'd been wracking my brain for months looking for the perfect gift but was completely incapable of finding anything even remotely adequate.  Finally I reached the conclusion (only very slightly influenced by lack of funding) that it would be considerably more meaningful to make him a present.  Instead of going for the type of pattern or design I might usually put on one of his cards I based this image on one of the key aspects I feel brought us together, a mutual love of punk music.  This print primarily relates to the first time we said "I love you" to each other.  We were at a punk gig, full of loads of local bands and totally surrounded by 40 something punks but he made me feel like we were the only two people in the room.  I'd dragged him there on a 'research trip' for my dissertation and although it was so much weirder than I'd expected, he only teased me about it a little.

This print obviously isn't a portrait of us.  I like to think I dress a little classier than the girl in the picture (well... most of the time) and despite my best cajoling he refuses to cut his hair into a Mohawk (apparently that would be 'unprofessional').   I used a lot of artistic license to create what I hope is a visually impressive piece but more importantly I wanted to demonstrate that a happy relationship isn't just for two cliched, 'normal' people.  Love isn't just for the visually stunning, airbrushed models used in magazines or on tv.  It's for everyone.  Me and my boyfriend aren't really normal or conventional and we're certainly not perfect but that's what I think makes us perfect for each other.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Gradient Effects

With a little extra time on my hands (something I should really be filling with uni stuff given I've got an exam and my dissertation hand-in coming up) I decided to experiment with some ink effects.  

In an unusually girly moment I'd started to sketch out a row of perfume bottles, unwilling to make this into a full still-life I was keen to find something that would lift visual appeal of this print without making it overly complicated and keeping the simple design aspect.  I'd cut the bottles on small, separate pieces of lino so I could trial compositions before making a definite design.  This would also mean if I wanted to create a slight variation of this print with fewer bottles all I'd have to do would be to remove the desired pieces from the backing board and arrange them as I liked.  

(Sorry about the poor quality photos, my phone camera isn't that great)

Having researched a few techniques I thought applying a basic gradient would lend itself particularly well to the composition.  I decided to go for warm, vibrant colours.

Friday, 14 March 2014

A little look into the past

What with uni deadlines and everything I've not had much time for designing in the past month.  As a bit of a consolation prize here is a project I worked on a few years ago that remains one of my favourites.  It's not particularly well executed and stylistically I feel it leaves a lot to be desired.  However, despite its many flaws this is one of my most ambitious creations.  During my A-Levels a small part of one of my art modules included designing home decor.  Drawing inspiration from the likes of William Morris and in particular Timorous Beasties (whose blog can be found here) I created a lampshade cover.  The original cut was relatively simple and then printed onto very fine tissue paper to allow the light to shine through.  Using such a delicate material like tissue paper created many challenges within itself. However, with a little patience and a lot of gentle cajoling of overly sticky ink from such porous paper I manged to create the desired effect. The orange hues are perfect for creating atmosphere on cold winter nights and bath the surrounding area in a warming light.

I particularly loved coming out of a project with something useful that I could continue to use.  As much as I like printing for the sake of creating a pretty picture or meaningful image, part of the joy of this project was creating something that years later I would still admire despite its many flaws. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Is romance lost on me?...

I'm sure you've all noticed the plethora of pink engulfing the greetings card shops and supermarkets in the past weeks.  So we all know what that means, the day dreaded by couples and singles alike is fast approaching.  In many respects I'm very lucky.  Not only do I, for the first time in centuries, have a wonderful guy in my life but we stumbled into the 'what do you expect for valentines day conversation' almost by accident... Well at least I assume it was an accident I can never really tell with him. 

I was also really fortunate that he felt the same way. I've always thought Valentines day was a strange idea and have never understood why I should be obligated to show someone I care about how much they mean to me on that day in particular. How special someone is shouldn't be dictated and fluctuate depending on what greetings card companies have decided. Luckily he agreed that it was totally arbitrary too, or did a really good job of pretending that's what he thought.  Consequently we agreed to simply spend some time together and exchange the obligatory card.  That is actually what this post is about.  As you've probably already gathered we're an unusual couple, which is really why we work so well together.  Taking this into account the design I came up with for his card includes some of the cliched imagery of love hearts but with a modern, steam-punk twist allowing for something a little more unusual.  

I hope boyfriend likes it!   

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Love Me

I recently stumbled across a brief to design a t-shirt for the Curtis Kulig brand, which I thought could be a lot fun.  The brief itself was relatively vague and only asked that you use the logo 'love me'.  Although, I found it challenging having so little direction I really loved the artistic freedom this brief gave me.

Here's the finished result.

The design itself is based on the old adage 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'.  Taking inspiration from the brands original conception in New York City, I've recreated some of the most famous architecture and landmarks to fit inside a love heart shape. The brand has grown exponentially and this simple two-word manifesto can now be spotted in cities ranging from Paris to Istanbul, Los Angeles to Berlin.  I wanted to highlight the commutation of the message by linking it to the concept of travel and the strength the message has gained through its journey across the globe.

I've got some really tough competition. If you feel like looking at the other entries they can all be seen here.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Cider, New Dungarees and a Printing Press

Hi guys, I meant to upload this earlier but time seems to go so fast at this time of year! One minute you're recovering from a colossal Christmas dinner and then you blink and you're recovering from a colossal New Years Eve party!

Really the title says it all.  I've been very spoilt this Christmas, particularly by a gift of a new/old printing press! I can't wait to start making prints again so I can try it out.

I hope everyone else has had an equally incredible festive period filled with food, family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!