Nick Morley is an artist printmaker, teacher and runs Hello Print Studio in Margate. He will be the judge of our upcoming ‘Impressions of Nature’ printmaking competition. We asked him a few questions about his practice, other printmakers and his print studio by the sea.
Julie: When did you start printmaking?
Nick: I remember doing screenprinting at school aged 12 or 13 but I really fell in love with it when I did my first etching on my Foundation course. I was taken in by the shiny metal, the heady aroma of the inks and the ancient looking press. I started making linocuts a few years later. I wanted to make bold graphic designs and I thought it would be the best medium. I then discovered that you can do so much more with linocut and I’ve been exploring the possibilities ever since.
Julie: What do you like about making work in editions?
Nick: I think it is a real honour to sell your work to someone who wants to live with it in their home. Making editions means the work is more affordable and therefore available to people on a wider range of incomes. I don’t think art should be exclusive, and prints offer such a diversity of artistic expression. Making editions also means you can keep a copy for your own archive.
Julie: What types of printmaking do you usually do?
Nick: I specialise in linocut but I often combine it with screenprint, which is quicker and easier to use for applying blocks of colour. I print the key block in linocut and then screenprint layers of colour on top. I am also interested in letterpress, and I love books, both traditional illustrated books and books which explore unusual formats.
Julie: What subject matter are you drawn to for printmaking?
Nick: I’m drawn to images which make me look twice, or recoil or laugh out loud. I trawl the internet looking for old photographs and I often use these as references. I also draw a lot in sketchbooks which I use as a receptacle for my more disturbing and childish thoughts. Some of these get turned into prints, most do not.
Julie: How would you describe your process? What materials do you usually use?
Nick: I work incredibly slowly when I make linocuts. I am constantly making adjustments to the design as I go and I often wonder what on earth I am doing. I have to reassure myself that I have been doing this for years and it will turn out OK. I use traditional battleship grey linoleum and Pfeil tools. I print on Somerset Satin 250gsm cotton rag paper. And I use Caligo safe-wash inks.
Julie: Who are some of your favourite printmakers at the moment?
Nick: Sean Starwars makes incredible woodcuts. He works very fast and uses eye-popping colours. Swoon is another American artist who I like. She uses linocut to make paste-ups and 3d installations. Agugn Prabowo is an Indonesian artist who makes linocuts. His designs seem to come from another world and always make me smile.
Julie: You were a member of East London Printmakers for over ten years. What was that like?
Nick: It was a great place to work and I made many friends there and learnt a lot. Being a part of a group of artists has many advantages. You can bounce ideas off each other and pick up printing tips.
Julie: You run Hello Print Studio in Margate. How did that come about?
Nick: I wanted to move out of London to set up my own print studio. My partner and I wanted to live by the sea so we decided to try Margate. It is more affordable than London and has a rapidly growing creative scene which is attracting some very interested people. In 2012 I met some other artists who wanted to find a building to house studios, a gallery and other creative spaces. We founded Resort and I founded Hello Print Studio as part of that. The facilities are available to studio holders and to the wider public on Wednesdays through hire sessions.
Julie: How do you decide which workshops to run at the studio?
Nick: I run a core programme of screenprint, linocut and etching workshops as those are always in demand. I also invite artists and designers to come and teach workshops like letterpress and gocco printing. The plan is to run longer workshops in the summer to bring visitors to Margate for a whole week. These will be more in-depth workshops with a theme. I really like the idea of running joint workshops with non-printmakers. I am planning one which explores the biology of the coastline.
Julie: Where can we see more of your work, online and in the flesh?
Nick: You can see my work online at my website www.linocutboy.com and follow me on instagram and twitter @linocutboy. I have work in Material Gallery in Old Street, London, in Frank in Whitstable and in Odd One Out in Hong Kong.
All images are copyright of the artist.