Meet the Maker: Moatzart

Describe your printmaking process.

My printmaking process is quite straightforward. I start by sketching out a composition straight on the lino. I sketch this out mainly to see where everything goes, but I don’t do this in a lot of detail regarding how every element or character will look. I then start carving, and that’s when I make my decisions, I love “listening” to the lino block for this.

I look at reference photos throughout and carve the images and faces intuitively from the lino, which gives the characters a unique flair, which could not be achieved through any other process. I apply this to any other material I work with, be it wood or metal, and try to respect and “listen to” the medium I use and stay true to the tools and the marks they can make, which is ultimately what I think constitutes my “style”.

How and where did you learn to print?

I learned to print as an apprentice of a masterful Romanian contemporary painter and printmaker, Matei Serban Sandu, in my teen years. He introduced me to the technique as soon as he saw my first ever sketches, as I had just discovered I could draw when I was around 15.

I then went to university, studied a very conceptual art course, made more collage, installation and relational artwork, and didn’t make any prints for three years! I started printmaking again when Covid hit, and I have been making prints ever since, and I am now able to do this pretty much full time!

Why printmaking?

I get along so incredibly well with printmaking. I think this is because I like complicated works with many elements, and my work can be very chaotic. I think prints have, firstly, a very natural limit to what can be carved, and secondly, a nice and exact finish, no matter how all over the place all the elements are. They always appear as a nicely finished and considered piece of work, and this is an inherent quality of the process.

Where do you work?

When Covid hit, I lost some of the work I was doing for a few galleries. I started working in hospitality again, so I was furloughed a lot, which meant I had time to be a full-time working artist, and I constantly made prints all throughout! I had never been happier! Carving is also a very therapeutic practice so I think it helped a lot during these tough times.

I am now able to keep working full time as an artist, as my prints started selling through Instagram. I managed to get my work into a few galleries and shows, and I also started getting commissions! Gallery work has picked up again, so I do still pick up whatever part-time freelance work comes up.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

I divide my days into admin days and making days. So if it’s a making day, it will either be a carving or printing day. I have a home studio with a large A2 printing press, which takes up the whole living room when I print. So I keep my printing days few and far between, with a large to-do list so I make the most of them.

On carving days, I normally start by making a few smaller prints for some of my series, which I film as content for Instagram reels. I then go on to carve larger works, which I also document in some ways, but less so, as I want to be more focused and “in the zone”.

How long have you been printmaking? 

For two years during my A levels alongside Matei Serban Sandu, and now full time for one year. So not very long really.

What inspires you?

People are my biggest inspiration. I love portraiture, and I love stories, which is why my work is so illustrative. I like busy looking illustrations and artworks and grandiose scenes. I like work where you can look back at it for a long time and every time you discover something new.

The Chapman Brothers are definitely my favourite artists by far, as they have a YBA (Young British Artist) sense of humour but have the old masters’ practice. They deal with a lot of topics that interest me such as artistic authorship, even heaven and hell.

I take a lot of inspiration from very classical artists, such as Albert Durer or Francisco Goya in terms of printmaking. I love large paintings like the Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese (did you know that he included himself and some painters of the time in this painting, such as Tintoretto and Titian? I love this fact so much). I also do a lot of collages and I love the surrealist movement. Hannah Hoch, Victor Brauner (my favourite painter, incidentally Romanian), Max Ernst, DeChirico are some of my favourite artists. Nowadays, I love Toilet Paper Magazine and David Shrigley.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

Well, let’s say the products I use regularly, and that I don’t imagine will ever change, the Caligo Safe Wash Inks, my Pfeil tools, and the classic grey hessian backed Lino! I feel like once you have the inks and tools down, you stick with them in printmaking! The Abig rollers are also good for the price!

I love experimenting with papers like the beautiful new Khadi papers, they are to die for! I also love Awagami Factory papers!

What have you made that you are most proud of?

My most detailed prints are definitely my favourite. I am really excited about the series of work I am currently adding to and I think every new work I make becomes my favourite.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

You can see and buy my work and other printed merch from my website. This is where my main shop is, including a blog and a gallery of all my work. I am also on view permanently with the IO gallery in Brighton, where you are also able to buy my work!

I have a few fairs coming up in Brighton as well, so if you follow me on Instagram, I will keep you posted!

What will we be seeing from you next? 

I have three main series I am adding to at the moment, and they are all equally wonderful. One based on Heaven and Hell, one on the children’s novel The Neverending Story, and one called They Are Dreaming, about dreams and ideals. I also have a few exciting collaborations in the works, so keep your eyes peeled.

As we slowly come out of lockdown I am excited to see what I can do with my work and hopefully set up some shows. I am new at being a full-time artist so I have a lot of plans and ideas, it feels like there are so many things I can do.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

I think people just starting out don’t realise how much artists actually steal from their surroundings. I know I was under the impression that everything came from an artist’s “imagination” (whatever that is), when it’s actually a load of research and looking at references, combining and deciding on things and experimentation.

A good tip I was once told, that I absolutely stand by, is to go as far back in time with your references as possible. Everything is copied and further copied from century to century, by artists admiring and responding to the artists before them, so if you make art like the artists of today your work will pale in comparison, as it is a copy of a copy of a copy. Always go to the source for inspiration, and your work will have depth. So if you’re interested in Abstract Expressionism, for example, go to the artists who first started the movement.

To see more from Moatzart follow her on Instagram!

Uses for Zest It Printmakers Washdown

We have found Zest It Printmakers Washdown an incredibly useful addition to our studio. It’s designed to remove dried on acrylics and so far has got us out of a couple of scrapes. Here are a few ways to use it in your studio:

Removing dried on water-based relief printing inks from rollers, blocks and inking plates.

Using water-based relief printing inks is a wonderfully easy, mess-free option… until the ink dries. You can remove dried-on ink with Printmakers Washdown – simply add a little to a rag and rub the affected area until clean. This is particularly good for rollers as it doesn’t require any scrubbing or scraping that could cause damage.

Removing dried ink from a screen

Ink drying in a screen is a printmaker’s nightmare. Normally, it’s an issue that can only be fixed by re-meshing the screen which can be expensive, time-consuming and wasteful if not otherwise necessary. Most screen printers will have experienced an ink blockage in their mesh once or twice. Zest It Printmakers Washdown removes dried-on water-based screen printing inks from mesh. Paint on a little and work it into the affected area until it comes away. Rinse afterwards.

Removing parcel tape glue residue from screens

When screen printing, parcel tape is often used to cover areas we don’t want to print, usually around the edges. Sometimes, when it’s removed, it leaves behind a sticky residue. Printmakers Washdown can be used to remove this residue and restore the mesh. Different tapes have different types of glue. We’ve found it to work well on the tape we use in our studio, but other tapes may vary.

Zest It Printmakers Washdown can be found here!

Creating Hand-Drawn Designs for Exposed Screens

Making exposed screens is a fantastic way of creating screen prints from your bespoke artwork. If you’d like to make exposed screens at home but would rather skip the digital processes then we have a great way of creating screen films with analogue methods!

For detailed advice about exposing your own screens at home, head over to this blog post. To learn about creating hand-drawn designs, read on or scroll to the bottom for a video.

When a screen film is made, it’s important that the design is opaque on a transparent film. In the exposure process, the opaque areas of design will block the light and create areas of open mesh. These areas will let ink through the mesh and create your print. The transparent areas of the screen film will allow light to reach the emulsion, hardening it and crating screen areas that will block ink.

Inkjet Screen Film is designed to be drawn or printed onto (with an inkjet printer). Opaque pens are needed to block the light – ordinary permanent pens won’t do. Zig Opaque Pens, Jacquard Film Markers, Posca paint pens or acrylic paint can be used.

Make sure to draw on the slightly squeaky side – one side will be smoother than the other. To check, wet your finger and touch the corner of both sides of the film. The correct side is the side that leaves a mark.

Begin making your marks using the pens and paint. Use the different pen tips to create various lines, use different brushes with the paint to create different marks. Any marks on the film will print on the screen. Acrylic paint is particularly good for filling large solid areas.

When the pen and paint are dry, you can work into the marks with a scalpel. Scratch the scalpel into the marks to remove pen or paint and add detail. Cut out whole sections of the film to remove marks that you’re not fond of. You can also cut up the film and rearrange it using transparent sticky tape.

When you are happy with the film, it’s ready to expose onto a screen! Read Bridget’s blog post for detailed information on how to do this at home.

For this project you will need:
Inkjet Screen Film
Zig Opaque Pens, Jacquard Film Markers, Posca pens or acrylic paint
– Brushes
– Scalpel
Cutting mat
– Scissors
– Transparent tape (optional)

Meet the Maker: Harriet Popham

Describe your printmaking process.

I create cheerful illustrative lino prints that often celebrate places or moments in time. In the last year, I’ve been exploring vessel silhouettes and placing all of the detail inside those shapes. I contrast this using a pop of colour in the form of a bold botanical element.

How and where did you learn to print?

I trained in printed textiles at Swansea College of Art, creating busy hand-drawn prints for interiors. At the time I was working with silkscreen, digital textile printing and embroidery. I started lino printing several years after I graduated and am now completely hooked on the process.

Why printmaking?

Despite the obvious labour intensity of printmaking, the hours of carving, inking, the trial and (plenty of) error – I find printmaking and the finality of the decisions involved a real positive. I find the planning exciting, the carving calming. For the first inking up I’m all adrenaline and that first peel back is (hopefully) super satisfying. I think any form of making with our hands is so beneficial, especially today.

Where do you work?

I work in a shed at the bottom of my Dad’s garden in Glastonbury. It was actually my bedroom when I first graduated but now my printmaking has fully outgrown my little house, I’ve reclaimed the “hut” solely for printmaking and it’s an ideal studio. I also have a studio in the conservatory at home where I do most of my carving and drawing.

How long have you been printmaking?

I had my first go with some lino in 2018. At the time I was doing illustrations for books and didn’t get a chance to take it any further. When I decided I wanted some variety in my work life and started running creative workshops, I realised it would be a great one to teach. It’s so accessible to people with different creative confidence levels.

I started working with lino regularly for demos and creating examples but it wasn’t until 2020 that I started properly dedicating time to making lino prints just for me, and challenging myself to work bigger.

What inspires you?

So many things! but here are some top ones… Places and moments in time, wonderful things my friends say, close embraces, vessels, shadows, stories. Everything is potential inspiration for a print and I find that adds to the experience of a walk, holiday, and golden hour shadows.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

Cranfield Oil Based Safewash ink tubes. 

What have you made that you are most proud of?

Earlier this year I was commissioned to design a print for the V&A Museum shop. This was a dream project for me. The print aims to capture the experience of a visit to the museum, from cake and coffee in the iconic John Madejski Gardens, to the unfolding layers of ornate architecture, the vast sculptures, delicate jewellery and decorative textiles. 

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell? 

I have a website and online shop. The V&A print is for sale on their website and in-store.

What will we be seeing from you next?

I’ve got lots of print ideas I’m really looking forward to carving and I’ve got a very exciting collaboration that will launch in 2022. I’ve teamed up with a beautiful brand on a textile design pieced together from individual lino printed scenes and I look forward to being able to share the details! 

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Play, experiment, make time for drawing and development. I still feel I’ve barely touched the surface of all I want to learn about lino printing. I didn’t start selling my lino prints properly until I stopped worrying about selling them and started just really enjoying making them regularly.

Another important piece of advice for navigating Instagram as a creative – The only comparison worth making is the one between yourself then and now. That could be the way your printing has developed since last month or how much more time you are spending creatively than you did last year. All things to celebrate! ”Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

To see more from Harriet, follow her on Instagram.