Sunday, January 16, 2011

Interview - The Mourning Press: A Partnership in Printmaking

Mourning Press Etsy Shop

Mourning Press Website

Brief Bio
Faye: David and I formed The Mourning Press after several years of printmaking together. During that time we learned much about each other’s studio practice and the ways in which we both involve narrative within our work. Inspired by this understanding, and our shared love of all things macabre, we chose to work under one name, and produce an ongoing series of gothic prints. This artistic partnership has proved invaluable, allowing us to share knowledge and ideas, while we each focus on our own aesthetic voice.   

David: We also live and work in the same area of North London, and take advantage of this by frequently meeting up to flick through each other’s sketch books and discuss new projects. It is as a result of these critiques that some of our best work has come to fruition. We challenge each other in a very creative and important way.

Why printing? 
Faye: For me, the printing process has become as important as the initial drawing. It is while the plate is in the acid that an element of chance is introduced to my work and I enjoy only being able to see the final image when the paper is pulled from the press. In terms of my studio practice, etching has developed from a way to reproduce my work into a way of creating it.

David: I have had an interest in the printed image since childhood. There is something hypnotic about reproducing the same drawing again and again with only slight variation. Printing has not only changed the direction of my work, but has allowed me to share my ideas with a wider audience. It has been the single biggest influence on my life as an artist.

What is your favourite print medium and why?
Faye: Although in the past I have used both monoprinting and stone lithography, it is the etching process that most suits the way I work. It affords me the right amount of control, while still allowing experimentation right up to the moment each impression is made. It is also with the heavy application of aquatint that I am able to achieve the depth of tone that is the focus of all my current work.

David: My intention is to produce images where the lines leap forward from the paper on which they are printed. To this end I have found that screenprinting is the most suitable process, enabling me to consistently reproduce large, rich areas of black as well as fine detail. In this way, I can also print images that are almost entirely devoid of any warmth and emotion. In contrast to the aims of most artists, I focus on representing a statuesque world, which stands in complete silence. 

How long have you been printing and how has your work evolved?
Faye: I first began printmaking whilst studying Fine Art at University in 2006. With all the available facilities it was a perfect time to get lost in experimentation, and to expose myself to the possibilities of using chemical processes in art. It was at this point that my work began to include darker imagery and more macabre subjects. The visual content of my work and the way in which it was produced began to develop in parallel.

David: I learned to screenprint in 2004, but it was another three years before I first started producing prints of my drawings. It can be a very frustrating and difficult process, and initially this was a significant setback. It took a long time to develop the skills required to get the most from screenprinting, and even now it is the one part of creating artwork that fills me with excitement and dread in equal measure.    

What or who influences your work?
Faye: I gather ideas from a diverse range of influences, most notably the symbolist movement. I was introduced to the work of Odilon Redon at a time when my own understanding of printmaking was at an early stage. His work, along with that of Goya and, later, Paula Rego, pushed me forward and helped me realise the potential of the techniques I was now beginning to use in the studio. I cannot stress enough the importance of referencing other artists when defining one’s personal artistic voice.  

David: I was lucky enough to be introduced to art nouveau and the psychedelic movement whilst still at school. I later became interested in how closely the two were related and this has really been the key to my exploration of art. I focus heavily on the links between artists and the periods within which they worked. I also find it useful to study books which detail traditional drafting techniques.

How do your promote your work?
Faye: David and I always promote our work together as The Mourning Press. As well as making use of social networking sites and Etsy, we also try and exhibit our work around London. After a successful group show last September, we are working on a follow up in May and hope to expand our audience and that of our co-exhibitors.

David: Promoting our work is one of the most difficult aspects of what we do. It can be very hit and miss, but we seem to be getting results. In the near future we hope to have someone handling that side for us.
Any good printing tips or funny printing stories (or both??)
Faye: Remember what it is about your work that you enjoy and be prepared to put in the hours. Accept criticism in all its forms; you can decide later which bits will push your work forward. 

David: Printmaking can be productive and fun, but it can also be infuriating. There are times when you should pack up your inks and try again the following day. There are also times when you should put on some loud music and work through the night. Heading home for a re-think does not mean you have failed.

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