Behind the Scenes: Part 2
We have been uncovering more of the secrets behind different methods of printmaking, some of which the artists featured in current exhibition THE ART OF THE PRINT have used to create their work.
There seems to be a common misconception surrounding different printing styles and that is, that the aesthetically simplistic pieces are deceptively quicker or easier to produce and that the visually unusual prints take longer to create and require more post-productive effort (completely wrong!) From interviewing each artist, we have discovered that this is definitely not the case.
Each artist has a breadth of creative inspiration as well as their own challenges relative to the chosen art form. Their unique style manifests in each individual work, however it is only since interviewing them, that we have truly found out the complex processes behind printmaking.
Fine art photographer Bryn Davies has produced a mix of prints for this exhibition including framed editions produced in the archival giclée printing method. The unframed “original” works are made by experimenting with handmade Japanese washi papers.
Bryn describes his process:
“Over the last few years I have produced archival printing for a few exhibitions. The framed archival print both analogue and digital is borne out of the art market but also the museum world. Photography has in some ways stalled in its presentation methods, particularly in the digital age. This exhibition was a good opportunity to do something a little different and compare with a formal look.
The main challenge with using handmade papers and experimenting in general is that the paper is not manufactured. One rogue grain on the paper and you have to throw it out. Also, using papers which reveal the grain, you don’t get two that are alike. But ultimately that is the fun and the challenge. Making the print one of a kind.
I became interested in using handmade papers because unlike paintings we don’t tend to associate photographic artworks as original and ephemeral. The classical Japanese aesthetic is living with the temporal quality of nature.
Washi paper is used in screens and walls in traditional houses. The paper itself is something to be appreciated. Not every photograph that I have taken works on handmade paper, but that brings a curatorial, perhaps uniqueness to the ones that do.”
Mark Reeves creates his photographs using a digital camera. This might sound unsurprising, however if you take a look at his collection, you wouldn’t be the first to think his images were created using chalk or paint.
With purposeful movement in his photographic technique, Mark creates images which are soft with motion, to the point where colours fade into each other like they’ve been applied with a brush. Using photographic paper and an inkjet printer, you may think that printing is straightforward for photographers, as the art is already there – it just needs to be transferred. But this is not the case for Mark and for many other fine art photographers.
“There’s a whole science to image printing, generally referred to as colour management. In short, this means making sure that what ends up on the paper looks like what came out of the camera or what the photographer produced on their computer screen during the editing process.
At each stage of the capture, editing and printing processes there is room for inaccuracies to creep in as the reproduction of colour passes from the natural world, into the camera, through the computer, out of the printer and on to the paper. Getting the right results depends on each process understanding “sky blue” or “apple green” in exactly the same way. It’s like asking a chain of linguists to sequentially translate a paragraph from English to French to Russian to Italian to German to Chinese to Swahili to Japanese and then back to English – and then expecting the final result to be identical to the initial text.”
Many photographers take images to be shared online with friends and family and the rest of the digital world, but it is the thought process behind printing the images and the selection process which makes it an art form.
Jessica says, “I create multi-coloured prints by using the ‘reduction technique’, a painstaking and deeply satisfying process creating different colours by removing more and more of the lino and printing different colours on top of each other. I also add colours and textures by printing onto coloured paper, hand colouring with paint brush and acrylic inks and removing colours with bleach.
I was drawn to linocutting by a fascination with the process. There are so may rules and risks especially when creating a reduction print and I am attracted to the possibility of mistakes and what might come from them. So often I learn how to create a different finish when things haven’t quite gone to plan – which I like.”
Linocutting brings many more challenges than perceived when you look at the simplistic layers of bold colour. It can be a very long process, a seven colour reduction print can take several weeks and of course the print will be the reverse image of the carved lino, adding a highly technical aspect to the art process.
Drawn to linocutting by the calm and hypnotic affect of the process, Jessica is continually inspired and impressed by other print-makers whilst creating her own mesmerising work.