Meet the Maker: John Coe from Pressing Matters Magazine

Hello, I am John Coe, founder, publisher and designer of Pressing Matters magazine – a new printmaking publication that takes a look at the people, process
and passion behind the art form. I approach the curation of the magazine from a ‘creatively curious’ standpoint and find myself getting arm deep trying
out new printmaking techniques and meeting makers to chat about their work. I created a new kind of magazine as, although I have plenty of books about
the subject, I felt that the magazine area of the printmaking world was limited, so decided to do my own!

Describe your magazine-making process.

It’s a pretty drawn out process actually, ideas for articles can come at any point and contacting and working with printmakers fits around their schedule
and mine (I also run a design company – I usually have an angle/approach
in mind when I contact an artist and sometimes even some ideas for page layouts and then we work along with a writer and photographer to create unique
content for the magazine. Saying that, some pieces come together very quickly and stay the same as my initial designs if I am happy with them. The
whole magazine goes through a proofing process, we get final advert artwork and anything else from people and then its sent off to the printers. Seeing
the magazine on the press, especially the cover, is a joy and a very exciting moment after the months of work leading up to it.

How and where did you learn to make magazines?

I am a self-taught graphic designer, and I have always followed my interests and tried to make them part of my working practice. My first foray into magazine
design was probably doing zines for my band back in the 90’s… there was a lot more photocopying and pasting things then, but the idea was the
same – trying to tell stories and connect with people. I founded a magazine about cycling (
some time ago and it was really on that where I learnt everything, not only about designing them, but how to sell them, working with stockists and
so on. I also worked as an art director in Hamburg on an outdoors magazine for a couple of issues and as that was for a large publisher, I got to see
how things are done differently to independent publishing. Pressing Matters is a publication born out of all of this experience and of course my love
of all things ‘printmaking!’

Why printmaking?

I guess it’s been ever present in my design practice, be it though creating some prints for Boneshaker magazine, buying books on graphic design and being
drawn to letterpress poster artwork and typography. I signed on as a printmaking student 2 years ago at Spike Print in Bristol and have just finished
two One Year courses, covering all aspects of printmaking and this year focusing on screen printing. I hope to do more courses next year, with a Woodcut
course at Cato Press turning my head currently…!

Where do you work?

Design wise, I work from a converted bothy that is in my garden (we live next to an old house that used to have a large garden and this was a workspace
for the gardeners originally). I design the magazine from here mostly, and get out to coffee shops and shared workspaces when I can. I do smaller printmaking
from home, mainly on the kitchen table as everything is nearby (I mainly do linocut at home) and have worked from Spike Print of the last couple of
years and am now thinking of joining as a member.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

At the moment, a typical day is trying to get through my client work as quickly as possible, so that I can do the fun stuff – working on the magazine…
I try to finish up on client work by 4 pm and then do a couple of hours a day on the magazine, but often that’s taken up by chasing content, emailing
and so on. I do block out whole days for the mag and that’s when I get the most work done.

How long have you been making the magazine?

The idea for the magazine came about when I first started my course 2 years ago. Once I had committed to doing it, it took about 6-8 months to get all
the ideas, layouts and content together for issue 1. This is longer than other issues will take, as I was starting from scratch. Issue 1 was released
in May and we were lucky enough to sell out of our 1,000 copy print run in about a month, so we did a reprint of that issue… Issue 2 is due
out in October and I hope to do 3-4 issues a year from 2018…

What inspires you?

I am inspired by all of the brilliant printmaking work from all around the world. Instagram has been a real success for the magazine, with a really diverse
set of followers and heaps of ideas for articles and people to talk to about work, etc. Personally, in my own print work, I am inspired by the illustrative
work of Evan Hecox, Adrian Tomine and Jeffrey Alan Love. I really love texture and narrative and am always sketching, collecting old books and taking
photos in a magpie fashion – this often leads to a bit of a mash up of ideas, the strong ones hopefully coming together in an idea for a print.

Where do you sell the magazine?

The magazine is available online at (and also in the
Handprinted shop) along with a few stockists around the UK and Europe.

What will we be seeing from you next?

Issue 2 is out around October time and we are planning on having stalls at the Brighton Print Fair, InkPaper&Print in Eastbourne and Sheffield Print
Fair in the winter once the mag is out. There is also talk of a couple of print fairs in and around Bristol at the end of the year, so we will be having
some presence at those too. I plan to carry on sketching, getting my ideas down and potentially have some print work to sell via the Pressing Matters
website in the new year (along with some other printmakers’ work).

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Just keep making. Like the quote on the back of issue 1 (by the brilliant Corita Kent) says… “Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail.
There’s only make.” I have learnt so much over the last two years being a printmaking student and the people that I am connecting with via the mag
are driving me on creatively, so I’d say ‘make work, share it with people, make more work, discover possibilities… etc)…’

Pop in to Handprinted to pick up your copy of Pressing Matters magazine, or visit the website at

Printing a solid lino block with a baren

One of the hardest things to do when printing a relief block (lino, vinyl or wood) is to print solid blocks of colour. 

There are quite a few choices to make and if you get these right then your printing will be much easier. 

  • Ink – an oil based ink will print better than a waterbased one. It will stay open for longer on the slab which will allow you to print over a longer period
  • Paper – printing by hand is easier with thinner paper. The paper should also be very smooth – any texture in the paper will appear in your print. 
  • Roller – the best quality you can afford and then look after it making sure you clean it well after each printing session. We love the Hawthorn rollers they have a large diameter and are soft. Make sure your roller is clean and free from dents or dried ink –
    any texture on your roller will transfer to the print surface with will transfer to your print. If possible use a roller that is wider than your
  • Printing surface – before you cut make sure it is really smooth with no dents or mountains – a quick rub over with a sanding block and some water will
    help if using traditional lino.
  • Printing surface – after cutting give the lino a brush with an old nail/toothbrush to eliminate any stray bits of lino and if using traditional hessian
    backed lino make sure no bits of the backing are coming loose – snip any stray bits away so they do not raise up and get inked.

When rolling out your ink it is tempting to roll out a thick layer onto the inking slab.

One of the ways to know that your ink is not going to be too thick is the noise it makes when being rolled out. It should sound tacky and definitely not
squelchy. It should look like a very short smooth velvet and the ink should be flat not at all peaked. 

Rolling out a thick layer can lead to a few problems.

  • The print paper can slide giving you a smudgy image
  • Fine lines can be filled in with ink, loosing definition of your cut marks
  • Ink will be uneven on the surface of the print and will make the drying time excessive

With your roller loaded with a smooth, even coating of ink roll the ink onto the lino. You will need to coat the roller many times so make sure you are
inking up next to the slab. Any cut marks in the lino will create an impression in the ink on the roller. Keep re inking on the slab to remove these
impressions so you do not transfer them to the lino. Make sure that when the lino is inked that the ink looks flat – tilting under a light will help
you to see this. If printing a solid, flat colour then ink in several directions. Try not to put the roller down on the lino or lift up from the lino
at 90′ – this will give you stripes of ink – think of your roller like an aeroplane landing or taking off! Don’t put pressure on the roller, this will
push ink into the cut lines. Try to keep the roller flat to the lino so you do not ink up the edges.

How you hold the baren is crucial. The handle is very short and it seems impossible at first to understand how you hold it. You should just tuck the tips
of your fingers under the strap and then fold down the rest of your hand to so that your knuckles and the heel of your hand is touching the baren. 

You want to print using a circular motion putting lots of weight through the whole of your hand. A piece of silicon/baking paper is useful between the
baren and the paper. This is for a couple of reasons. If printing on finer paper the silicon paper will stop the baren wearing bits of the paper away.
 The silicon paper will also help you to put lots of pressure through the baren but will allow it to still glide over the surface. Try to keep
the baren flat to the paper – especially at the edges so that you get sharp lines. The technique of holding a baren is the same if it is a simple
bamboo one or a highly engineered ball bearing one.
The ball bearing ones allow you to print large areas with less pressure. 

The first print you take from a piece of lino always seems to be a little patchy and less dense in colour. After a couple of prints the transference of
ink will improve. 

This speckled effect on the print is down to two issues – the paper is a little textured and the inking was insufficient. If you print using Ternes Burton Pins and Tabs you could re ink and print again to resolve this issue. The Ternes Burton system is brilliant – not just for reduction printmaking
but also for ensuring that your print block is placed in the correct position on your paper. Paper is an expensive part of printmaking so not wasting
any is crucial. 

A small speck of something (possibly a piece of stray lino) had stuck to the plate whilst inking up. This foreign body held the paper away from the ink
so creates an area that will not print. 




Screen Printing on to Fabric Workshop

Hello, My name is Hayley and for the past week I have been at Handprinted for work experience. I have loved every minute of it especially when I took part
in the screen printing work shop onto fabric. It was my first time screen printing and I cannot wait to do it again. We began the workshop with screen
printing using a paper stencil where the lovely Shirley did a tutorial on preparation and stencil cutting.



After preparing our screens, choosing a design and cutting out our stencils it was time to do my first print ever which was very exciting. I really enjoyed
using the paper stencils as it demonstrated another way to screen print not using exposure. I also enjoyed seeing what everyone else had made using
their paper stencils, we had a a wide variety of prints from stars to clouds in an assortment of vibrant colours. 

Once we had practised and got a good technique we could move on to a larger piece of fabric and choose our final designs. We could either use a mix of
paper stencils and screen exposure or just go straight on to the exposure technique. I choose to incorporate both as I really liked using the paper
stencils. For my final design I wanted to use elements of nature so for the paper stencil element I cut out a toadstool and made up a vibrant red dye
(which turned out to be extremely difficult to make).

The next step was to prepare our screens for exposure – this meant drawing our designs onto film and putting the green emulsion (which oddly smelt like
PVA glue) onto our screens. This bit was slightly scary as it was difficult to get the right technique in order to not spill the liquid everywhere
and to get a nice even spread. We than left the screen in a dark heated cupboard for 20 minutes – during this time we got to enjoy our lunch.


Our next job was to use the exposure machine which went on for 5 minutes 30 seconds with our screens and designs in. We quickly jet washed the loose
emulsion off before it set leaving us no design left to print (which would have been very disappointing). Once we dried the screen it was ready
to print! 

To print my feathers I used a gorgeous duck egg blue as I believed it would compliment the vibrant red. This part was extremely interesting as you
got see everyone’s designs and placements of the screen. Below are some of the final products.

At the end of the session I had some time to experiment with my screen so I tried to make and ombre using red and purple colours.- This was very fun
as I did not have to worry about being exact.

I really enjoyed this workshop (and my entire experience at Handprinted) and would recommend the workshops to anyone no matter your ability of printing.
The whole team here are so lovely and accommodating plus, if you are lucky, you may even get free tea and cake (or coffee if you prefer.)









Mokuhanga in Tokyo!

I (Shirley) have been on a trip to Tokyo to attend a five day Mokuhanga course (Japanese Woodblock) and to meet with a few of our suppliers. I have never
been anywhere like Tokyo before so it was an experience on lots of different levels. I have been lucky enough to attend a couple of Laura Boswell’s courses (her courses with us are full for 2017 but her 2018 courses will be on the website soon!) 

My first print was Sycamore Seeds. It was a three block print. I wanted a bit of Bokashi printing (graduation of colour). Mokuhanga printmaking uses water
colour or gouache paints and Nori (rice paste). You apply the paints to the ply with printing brushes.


The cutting is the bit that seems to take the most time but the printing is the bit that is the hardest to get right. Our teacher only spoke Japanese (we
were lucky as we did have a translator). One word he said more than any other sounded like ‘squashy’ which means less! – I always seemed to be using
too much Nori paste which caused me lots of problems. 

You register each print using Kento marks (registration marks) that you carve into the blocks. These have to be in exactly the same place for each layer
or the elements will not register successfully. 

The finished print. 

For my second print I wanted to try something a little more complicated and use the layering of the blocks to create extra colours. 

This was another three layer print. Using three colours of paint and the colour of the paper to create six different colours.


Working out colours in my sketchbook and yet again I was using too much Nori. ‘Squashy’ the instructor said once more!

One other thing that I learnt whilst in Japan is that Kit Kat can come in many different flavours – this one is Matcha. Not one of my favourites!

After the course finished I had a few days meeting with suppliers and a couple of Mokuhanga artists. 

I loved seeing the work of Katsutoshi Yuasa  – his website can be viewed here

He works using photography but cutting the images all by hand in the traditional way. His prints are so alive that you felt that they were three dimensional.
He used the traditional artform of Mokuhanga in such a modern way. His latest work is mostly printed using CMYK. 


He has two pieces in this years Summer Exhibition at the Royal College of Art which runs till the 20th August – so if you are in London it is a must see.

I spent a lot of time looking for new suppliers and going to beautiful art shops. Brushes are very valued in Japan and are made from a few different animals
Summer Deer, Goat and Horse tend to be used for different purposes for Mokuhanga. 

One of my favourite shops was Pigment – can you guess what it sells? Unbelievably beautiful rows and rows of pigments in every shade you could imagine. 

We will be increasing the supplies we stock from Japan – hopefully they will start appearing on the site in the next few weeks. 

Sayonara Tokyo I hope to come back soon!