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Interviews

Combined efforts: the relationship between artists and printmakers

25 April 2014

While some artists work alone on prints, many others collaborate with specialist printmakers, drawing on their expertise and making use of their equipment to create collectible, high quality editions that get the most out of the medium.

We asked Anita Klein, past president of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, to tell us more about her work with the print specialists at Advanced Graphics in London, and how it compares with her solo experiments.

I discovered printmaking while I was an undergraduate at the Slade. My work is essentially about drawing, and the various print techniques each offered possibilities for making marks that couldn’t be made any other way. I was first introduced to lithography by Stanley Jones, and made my first drypoint etching using the back of an old aluminium litho plate. I did an MA in printmaking at the Slade, which enabled me to gain real fluency in many techniques. I remember a college trip to the British Museum print room to see the German expressionist woodcuts, which I found so inspiring that I literally ran back to the Slade to start cutting wood!

Since leaving college 30 years ago I have used printmaking as a way of keeping a kind of visual diary, and for many years I used my prints, mostly drypoints, as sketches for my large oil paintings – a way of sorting out the composition before embarking on the decisions and difficulties that come with a large scale and with colour. More recently I have been working the other way around. I now spend one week every month painting in my studio in Italy. These paintings often form the basis of my prints; mostly linocuts and lithographs which I make in my London studio.

Advanced Graphics first invited me to work with them in 1997 and since then I have made 39 editions of screenprints with woodblock with them, and many monoprints. Working with a master printer is very different to making prints alone. It is a real collaborative process and a great privilege to access Bob Saich’s expertise and ideas.

The beauty of printmaking is that once you understand the basic processes, there are infinite ways of experimenting to make new and exciting marks by combining or modifying techniques. For every feeling or idea that an artist wants to express there is a mark that conveys it perfectly.

The London Original Print Fair is at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, until 27 April.

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