An Interview with Katie Edwards – Winner of the Lawrence Printmaking Prize

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We are delighted to be sponsors of the Brighton Print Fair, an event that runs throughout September and celebrates printmaking in all its wonderful forms. This year we ran the Lawrence Printmaking Prize and we finally hailed Katie Edwards as our winner. We love her style; the juxtapositions in her work offer humorous yet symbolic messages which are both thought provoking and a joy to study. We thought we would ask her a few questions and find out more about her!

Where did your love for screen printing stem from?

I first tried my hand at screen printing on my art foundation course and I’m pretty sure I loved the process from the get go. I find all printmaking techniques extremely satisfying. That moment you reveal the print is very pleasing every time. Screen printing appealed to me because it could be combined with placing photographs in unusual compositions and I enjoy the printing process whereas other techniques can be very laborious. The planning and set up of screen printing can take some time, but once you’re ready to print it can be fairly quick and enjoyable, producing unique textures every time.

Your body of work features symbolism and metaphors that often project comical images. For example, your piece: ‘Think Big’ (below) which featured in the Brighton Print Fair. Can you tell us more about this, particularly your inspiration?

My style of illustration came about from the juxtaposition of different objects to communicate a new idea. This way of working appealed to me in a way that I could create imaginative pieces with regular photos. I didn’t consciously always include an animal or nature in my pieces, but this was what I was interested in and so were the basis of my ideas. Animals hold so many hidden meanings that they work well for creating symbolic images. I work with a lot of magazine and newspaper editors to create an illustration that will draw people in to read their article. Producing clever or thought-provoking imagery can really brighten up a piece of writing.

‘Think Big’

Tell us about the techniques and materials that you used for pieces in the show.

My ideas start as a quick sketch just to remind me of the concept in my head, then I collect photographs to edit and manipulate. Once my design is created, I plan the colours and the layers to be screen printed. Sometimes the experimentation of colours and paper takes place during the printing process, creating very different pieces with each print. Other times the idea is quite set and so I’ll print a limited edition of the print, but each print is still original due the process in which I use. I print my limited editions on Fabriano or Somerset and my off of prints can be printed on anything from Chinese paper bought at a flee market in Bejing, to a paper bag a sandwich came in. I often combine my silkscreen prints with hand painted layers because I like the contrasting textures.

Are there any pieces that you found particularly challenging?

All the pieces in the show came quite naturally to me, most of them are ideas that have popped into my head and I’ve just had to create. ‘Joy’ (below) was for a competition of the same title, which I struggled with an idea for a little while but when I thought of the horse escaping the carousel it was a real ‘Aha’ moment.

Joy

 How long did it take you to develop your style / any tips for printers developing their own styles or just starting out?

My way of working came about in my final year of University. Before then I’d tried too hard to create a style, when really, it should come naturally by doing what you love, in my case, combining photography and printmaking, my two passions.

 You create a lot of commission pieces: tell us about them. How often are you approached? Do you find deadlines a challenge? How much freedom do you get in terms of artistic expression? 

The articles I am commissioned to create illustrations for are so varied. They are really interesting to receive and there is always something new to learn each time.

Sometimes the client will have an idea or and angle to focus on, but most of the time with editorial briefs I just receive the text and then I produce a few different ideas. The client will choose their favourite and then I’ll produce the final artwork as a screen print that I then scan in and email the digital file to them. The deadlines can be quite tight and trying to be creative in a strict timeframe can be a challenge, but a quick turn around can be very rewarding as well.

Give us five of your top screen printing essentials (and why)

  • Good paper, I like a heavy weight textured paper like Fabriano or Somerset.
  • Lots of Squeegees of different sizes, it makes the job less messy if you can use the smallest size that you can.
  • Having my own exposure unit, so it much easier being able to expose screens whenever I want.
  • Lots of screens at varying sizes. This allows me to keep the artwork on there if I need to rather than washing it off to use the screen again.
  • A small drying rack. I cant believe I went so long without one, my floor used to be covered in drying prints!

 What is the most valuable piece of advice anyone has given you that you still use today?

It’s not really advice, but my tutor on my art foundation who first showed me how to screen print, did it in a way which I think moulded my way of printing. Instead of having an image and breaking down the layers, she showed me to use the screen as the creative tool. Having different images or textures exposed onto the screen, and then printing them in different compositions.

 Which three artists (past or present) would you invite to a dinner party and why?

Andy Warhol: I think he helped make screen printing be accepted as a fine art.

Banksy: I never really thought of him/her as an influence, but a few people have commented on the similarities, which is very flattering as their ideas are amazing.

Martin O’neal: I have always admired his collage style illustrations.

 Have you got any projects/ exhibitions coming up?

Yes, I am currently working on a mountain bike project called One More Brew. In October I have Buy Art Fair in Manchester and in November, Winsor Contemporary Art Fair.

Katie grew up in the Lake district and has since lived in both London and Canada. She has a large portfolio of work including commission pieces and prints to purchase which you can view on her website: http://ktedwards.co.uk/ 

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