I have a weakness for print. Whether it’s a linocut, a screen print or letterpress; there’s a good chance that it will make me smile. Couple beautiful print work with a dose of wit and I’m yours for the taking!
Recently I came across Vicky of Woah there pickle – a veritable sweetshop of printed loveliness and wit. Within hours I got in touch with Vicky and asked her to share more about her work.
Grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy….
1. Describe yourself in three words
Brighton’s Printmaking Pickle
2. Your work seems full of humour, warmth and colour – are these attributes that you consciously include in your work.
Definitely, humour is the most important. I like printing things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as subject of a print. Silly things, nostalgic things and more so now I’ve been using more typography, things I’ve heard. I really like incorporating little things I’ve learnt while travelling so that when someone else recognises that thing as specifically New Orleans or specifically Tel Aviv its something special.
I’ve also always been inspired by people who use really bold colour. My absolute favourite artist is Keith Haring and one of the reasons for that is he never shied away from really just going with it with colour but always kept it simple. It adds up to an easily recognisable but exciting style of work which I really try to apply to in my linocuts too.
3. I love the variety of your subjects…do you keep sketch books of ideas or run home as soon as inspiration strikes?
I’ve never been good at keeping sketch books on me so I have a big long list on my phone which isn’t very art of me I know! You never know when you’ll see something or someone will say something in a different way and you think ‘Right, that’s going on the list!’. Its got pretty long now so I don’t think I’m ever going to run out of things to linocut!
4.Lino printing involves being skilled in a lot of processes. Do you get more enjoyment from carving the design or printing it?
That’s one of the things I really love about linocutting. The carving and the printing are two really different processes so if I’m flagging a bit doing one then I can switch to the other.
The carving can be really relaxing when you’re not stabbing yourself with the tool and once you have a design is very methodical. But there’s something very magic printing a block for the first time because you never really know how its going to come out, especially with a few colours.
5. America seems to have a big place in your heart, tell us more..
America is really a fascinating place. It’s so strange that its one country when sometimes the different parts of Europe feel like they have more in common with each other than the different states of America in landscape, climate, culture or people. And it has the benefit of me being able to speak the language, well, kind of!
I’ve been around a good chunk of it and my second home is definitely New Orleans. You get such a sense of important and sometimes weird history there with strange and exciting traditions and such a unique culture. The food, music and festivals are all incredible and it all comes wrapped up in that Southern hospitality you don’t find in all states that’s for sure!
The first time I went I was living and working in a hostel over Mardi Gras season so I’ve made some incredible friends there and they have very courteously spread themselves all over the country and the world so I have even more places to go and visit a friendly face now!
6. Can you tell us more about your internship with Hatch Show Print?
I could talk all day about that place! I’d been told by a friend that as I was passing through Nashville I would have to stop in there and it really is an Aladdin’s Cave for anyone interested in print. I fell in love with it and stored away the idea of applying for their internship programme. 4 years later I thought I might as well give it a go, applied and was over them moon when I got it.
For those who don’t know, Hatch Show Print is a letterpress print shop that has been producing posters since 1879. That’s the same year the lightbulb was invented! It eventually became famous for printing posters for some of the most iconic popular music acts there have been, including Johnny Cash, Elvis, Hank Williams and anyone who was anyone in the country music scene. Since the mid 80s its been run by the amazing Jim Sherraden who has kept the place thriving in a time where people automatically jump on a computer to lay a poster design out. He now says that this is the best thing that could have happened to the shop because it sets aside what Hatch and other letterpress printers do from computer made design and offers a more human and tactile alternative which people cant get enough of. They have continued to make posters for incredible acts right through from Led Zeppelin to current bands like Mumford and Sons today. We had people phoning before the poster was even designed to buy copies of that one!
During my time there I learnt, from scratch, the running of a letterpress poster shop. There, the designer is also the printer so I had to first get to grips with the humongous archive of wood and metal letter blocks, hand carved lino blocks and metal photo plates and where it was all kept which was a mammoth task in itself! We then had to learn the traditional skills of typesetting, making colour separations, locking in the block on the press, making sure everything was printing and bumping up things that don’t, printing with the correct inconsistency of ink. Pretty soon we were working on live jobs and I made posters for a wide range of clients like The Country Music Hall of Fame, a local school, Counting Crows and the comedian Kevin James.
My favourite thing about working in letterpress is how you have to learn design within the limitations of the process. It really forces you to make creative design decisions like if you don’t have enough ‘e’s in the typeface you’re using do you find another typeface altogether? Switch a few letters to a new one and make a mix? Find a good looking 3 and put it upside down? It all adds up to such a lovely quirky character you just don’t get on a computer.
7. You are obviously a big fan of craft fairs – what do you love most about them?
Craft fairs are great for two main reasons in my eyes. Firstly, making crafts or prints can be such a solitary job. Craft fairs are one of the big opportunities to meet up with people who are doing some of the same things as you so are effectively the colleagues you get to have a gossip with, see what else is going on with exhibitions or other fairs and talk about the things you’re doing and love. Luckily now I work in a studio so its not quite so lonesome but its lovely to be a part of that tight knit ‘scene’!
The second biggest pro to doing fairs is that there are not a lot of other opportunities to present your work to people face to face in a laid back atmosphere and get to chat to them about it. If you sell work on line of in galleries you don’t get a feel for the kind of person buying your stuff. With them in front of you, having a good old nose, they tell you which bits they like or which bits remind them of a thing their Grandma used to have or what else would be funny. That kind of feedback is not only invaluable as market research but is just really lovely to hear face to face!
8. What’s it like to be surrounded by such a vibrant community of designer makers in Brighton and how does Woah There Pickle get involved?
If you’re going to have a go at making a living from anything creative or crafty I think Brighton is one of the best places in the world to make that happen. I think it must be the pull of the beautiful sea! There’s so much going on down here and quickly you will get to see the same familiar faces at events across the city.
Everyone is so open and friendly in the making community. I’m fairly new to it and already feel like I’ve been welcomed in by so many talented people who offer help and advice or a bit of a chat. Also the diversity of what people do is so interesting as well. People are truly doing some unique things and it makes me want to be better at what I do and make a real success of it.
There are so many ways to become involved in the community as well, it’s not just craft fairs. There are the monthly meet ups and talks put together by Craftaganza, the Brighton Etsy Team which also creates events and provides support and the twice yearly Open House festivals Brighton has to name a few. Really there is always something going on in Brighton!
9. What’s your favourite piece in the Woah There Pickle shop and why?
Generally I think that the last thing I’ve done is my favourite print. I guess that’s a good indication that I’m still getting better at it! The last one I’ve done is a Gummy Bear card which is a great example of a print making me giggle once I get that revealing second colour on.
Other than that I really like the ‘Bet you I can tell you where you got them shoes’ scam one from New Orleans. I thought it might be a bit too much of an in joke to have any appeal else where but people from all over the world seem to by them which really makes me smile. (The answer is generally on the street or on your feet!)
10. What can we look forward to from Woah There Pickle this year?
All sorts! The studio I’ve started working in has an insane screen printing set up so although I’ll most likely keep using linocutting as my base for design I’ll be able to produce bits on fabric and combine the processes which I’m really excited about. I’m also starting to team up with some great independent retailers so I’ll hopefully gain more of a presence in physical shops this year so keep an eye out!
If you want to find out more about Vicky and her work or you’d like to buy something then here’s the information you need:
Website: www.woahtherepickle.co.uk where there’s a calendar of events to find me at craft fairs etc.