City Lit Blog

Q&A with printmakers and July 2017 printmaking exhibition

Story added 26th Jun 2017

Printmakers Susan and Suzanne share their experiences

This year's City Lit printmaking exhibition is fast approaching, whilst preparing for their show we spoke to printmaking students Susan Squire and Suzanne Coughlan to find out their experiences of printmaking at City Lit.

Ink! City Lit printmaking exhibition runs from 11 - 21 July 2017 at RK Burt Gallery, 57-61 Union St, London SE1 1SG. The Private view is on Thursday 13 July 18:00-20:00.

Susan Squire, Printmaking

Susan Squire

What inspired you to sign up on the printmaking course at City Lit?

I have been attending printmaking courses for a number of years at City Lit. This year I decided it was time to turn myself from a student of printmaking into a printmaker and work on making a purposeful and considered body of work.  Advanced Fine Art Printmaking was the perfect course to achieve this.

What was your background prior to signing up for your course at City Lit?

I studied graphics at art college before freelancing for agencies and studios all over London, working mainly in high quality food packaging. I continued freelancing after I became a mother but eventually the manic deadlines and crazy work hours took their toll and I stopped working in this field and moved into administration because of the more family friendly hours.

Have you always had a passion for printmaking or fine art in general, or is it something that has developed more recently?

I’ve had a passion for printmaking since my first day at art college. I’d always choose a printmaking process if I want to express myself artistically. After art college, most of the projects I worked on were for commercial screen or litho printing so I’ve been printmaking for much of my working life, but just on an industrial scale! 

Ahead of the exhibition please can you tell us little more about you final project and the influences behind it...

I have always been interested in the contrast between darkness and areas of bright colour and this was the starting point for the final project. Because of my career change I’m also interested in the way that people perceive and react to you differently as you go through different life phases contrasting with the fact that you feel yourself that you haven’t changed inside. With these influences, for my final project I’m producing prints of a dress I wore when I was much younger, some boots I wear now and a series of brightly coloured label prints.

How has the course transformed your approach to your work? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?

The course has completely changed my approach to my work. Previously in my printmaking studies I tended to travel from technical method to technical method but without thinking in depth about what I was printing or why. I now have a much clearer picture about who and what inspires me and what I want to say. We’ve also covered a lot of information about professional practice and this has been invaluable in mapping out what I want to do next, particularly in the areas of exhibiting, collaborations and residencies.

What’s the dynamic like on the printmaking course?

What stands out is that we are all very supportive of each other. It can be quite an emotional experience when you are making an artwork so we are fortunate that we are able to support each other. We all have very different approaches to printmaking too so we’ve all been able to benefit from such diverse influences.

What’s the best thing about studying at City Lit?

Definitely the high quality of the teaching – I’ve learnt so much on every course I’ve been on. 

 Suzanne Caughlan, printmaking

Suzanne Coughlan

What inspired you to sign up on the printmaking course at City Lit?

In 2016 I came to the end of a 24 week Art Foundation and Portfolio Preparation course.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next and decided I would like to work towards applying for an MA in Illustration or Textile Design. I already hold a non creative academic degree and instead of returning to study at Undergraduate level I decided to increase my skill set and aim for a MA Degree level. The Advanced Printmaking course at City Lit inspired me as I wanted a year to challenge myself and work on my own personal practice whilst learning a variety of printmaking methods, history of printmaking and skills I would need as an artist selling my own work.

What was your background prior to signing up to your course at City Lit?

Before signing up to the advanced printmaking course at City Lit I had always had a passion for Art and Design. I had regretted not studying this as my degree, instead I had studied History and Psychology. In 2015 I decided to return and study Art and completed a 24 week foundation and portfolio preparation course with the view to studying at a higher level at some point in the near future. I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively and work abroad when I was younger. These experiences have helped shape my practice as an artist.

Have you always had a passion for printmaking or fine art in general, or is it something that has developed more recently?

When I started the advanced printmaking course at City Lit I had no printmaking experience and this was my first introduction to Printmaking. I have always had an appreciation for prints and illustrations but this is the first time I have printed my own illustrations. Over the past 9 months I have developed a passion for Printmaking and hope to combine my study of textiles and printmaking at City Lit over the coming year.

Ahead of the printmaking exhibition, please can you tell us a little more about your final project and the influence behind it...

The idea behind my final project began with a photograph of my grandmother taken in 1944. The photograph is a striking portrait of my grandmother and I wanted to recreate a strong illustration that could be turned into a textile that captured her glamorous appearance and her love of fashion. I also made this photograph the basis for my print as I wanted to create an illustration that held personal pride and had a link with my own family history. My interest in fashion and textiles comes from family influences and I wanted to incorporate this into my work. I am currently turning my Illustration into a repeat pattern for a printed textile and plan to create a dress sculpture using the printed fabric and printed Chinese paper.

How has the course transformed your approach to your work? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?

The course has helped me to decide the direction I would like my studies to take in the future. Before the course I was curious about illustration, textile design and surface design, and now having reached the end of the advanced printmaking course I have been able to decide that the best way forward for me in the future is to make printmaking the basis for my textile design, surface design and illustrations.

What's the dynamic like on the printmaking course?

There is wide range of abilities and skills on the course with people of all different ages. All of the students help each other with questions about their printmaking specialism which has allowed me to learn skills from my peers.

What's the best thing about studying at City Lit?

The best thing about studying at City Lit is the freedom we have once a week to create a new print in the studio. With a little bit of preparation at the weekends I was able to spend 3 hours per week printing and experimenting in the studio. I also enjoyed the tutorials that provided guidance on the other aspects of making prints such as the History of Printmaking, how to make reproductions of my work and photoshop all of which I feel helped me develop as an artist.The off site Saturday trips to other studios, the Tate Britain and RA Print Fair really helped me to get to know my tutors and the other students.

Interested in enrolling on one of our 2017-2018 printmaking courses?

Email visualarts@citylit.ac.uk or call 020 7492 2700/2703 to find out more about how you can join the latest short courses or those starting in September 2017.

Ink! City Lit printmaking exhibition runs from 11 - 21 July 2017 at RK Burt Gallery, 57-61 Union St, London SE1 1SG. The Private view is on Thursday 13 July 18:00-20:00.