Members Takeover: Week 4 - René Mullin

During week 4, BPW Member and Trustee René is reflecting on our Print Network and other influences
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We are delighted to be part of a strong network of print studios across the Island - together on Instagram we are @irish_printmakers If you don’t already follow this account please do. You can tag your own work with either @irish_printmakers or irish_printmakers to connect and share your work, let’s try and build the network. All of us are currently closed and feeling the strain of our current situation, at Belfast Print Workshop we are hoping to use the closure period to keep connections alive and make plans for how we can do things better when we reopen - this week on our social media we’ll share on our pages the work of other Irish printmakers/studios from the network and hopefully help build wider connections across the island. Most of the studios offer residencies to members of other Irish studios with a focus on helping printmakers develop their practice. It is a brilliantly creative community to be connected with and we are very proud to be a part of it. @blackchurchprint @blackstack_studio_kilkenny @creativespark_printstudio @leinsterprintmakingstudio @limerickprintmakers @derryprintworkshop @seacourtprints @graphicstudiodublin

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Read all about it

If you want to get started with printing, or learn a new technique but can’t right now because all the studios are closed, you can order yourself some books to get a head start. Personally screen printing is where my interests lie primarily, (though I do hope to take a few classes next year to extend my understanding in other areas), but it does mean I have a good few books focused entirely on screen techniques in this edited pile. The reality is there are too many printmaking books to choose from, so if you are looking for a couple of good starter books with plenty of technical information on all print techniques you won’t go wrong with The Printmaking Bible and Print Making-A complete guide to materials and processes. In the ‘bible’ our Belfast studio is included in the directory of workshops. There is an excellent interview and featured works by Sophie Aghajanian who has been a big part of our studio since it’s inception as she and her husband Jim Allen moved to Belfast together where Jim set up the Belfast Print Workshop on request of the Arts Council here in 1977. It’s a brilliant book with loads of excellent interviews telling individual stories of how renowned printmakers found printmaking, alongside a great resource of well explained techniques. The other books featured I highly recommend, and the final one pictured is a little book I picked up in Canada a few years ago that I have a flick through before teaching my children’s print workshops every week, to remind me that printmaking can be super simple and loads of fun and not to take it too seriously. Happy reading! 

1.The Printmaking Bible.

2. Printmaking - A complete Guide to Materials and Processes.

3. Pulled-A catalogue of Screen Printing.

4. Screenprinting- The ultimate studio guide from sketchbook to squeegee.

5. Printworkshop, Hand-printing Techniques+Truly Original Projects.


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“I took a class”

The number of people who have said in interviews that they found printmaking because their art degree ran a printmaking class during it, or that they just took a class once and fell in love with the process, it’s so common and such a great place to start. It is rare to hear people say they discovered printmaking at a gallery looking at someone else’s prints, because as amazing as prints are, the magical moment is in the making of the print and only once you’ve done it do you understand the elixir that it is. There is a moment during printing that is breathtaking and it hooks you in, it’s known as the ‘reveal’ when the image you’ve been working on, drawn, etched, cut, burnt, inked, pulled, rolled..., all of which has taken many hours, perhaps weeks to finally arrive at, you are ready to see the result and peel back the blankets and paper layers, or lift the screen, or whichever process you’ve chosen, all offer the same hold your breath moment(s) for you to see your finished print for the very first time - it is always as exciting and makes all the preparation and processes before it seem so worthwhile. There are also hideous moments where something hasn’t quite worked and you’ll have to start all over again, but it’s too late, you are already hooked. Check out our classes and all the classes our Irish print network of studios offer, pick one and get signed up, you won’t regret it, you’ll love it. After Covid-19 we’ll all be ready to welcome you to take a class


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Printing with many colours is much more difficult than these images demonstrate, it looks so simple, so primary, CMYK, basics, graphic layers, common almost, and that’s right, if what you see here was produced digitally it would be simple but they aren’t, they are all created through a variety of different processes, by hand and eye. It is labour intensive to produce a print with layers of colour, but oh so delightful when done. Happy Wednesday everyone - I hope you are scrolling all the print making studios near you to see what courses, artists and facilities are available for you to join once this lockdown is over. See the origional post and who was included, here

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The lockdown has us all sealed up. Creativity can’t be contained but the ability to express it can somewhat and that is a big problem for the arts. We want to keep our members involved in the studio during this period and they have been doing an excellent job running the social media accounts, tomorrow member Lisa Murray takes over for a week and will be introducing some of our members and their work too. Staying connected online is so important for communities like ours and our wider network across Ireland. All the studios are doing interesting things and if you aren’t already following please do ( the are all tagged here). Over to you Lisa!