With a new found interest in print but no practise under my belt, earlier this summer I decided to enter the 20:20 Print Exchange through The Art House, Wakefield. I thought that the deadlines would encourage me to explore printmaking during my summer holidays, but as usual time goes too fast and as a typical novice (and typical me) the time taken for me to develop ideas and print was underestimated.
Nevertheless, I got to a couple of printmaking workshops at The Hepworth Wakefield and Derdlab, and developed the idea of printing the word yawn. I liked that the word makes people yawn – this really tickled me that people could be so suggestible by this contiguous word that they could start yawning right there in a gallery or hung in their own home or studio. I also liked the notion of old fashioned typesetting and hand printing being perceived as boring, yawn worthy compared to modern technology.
I played with type and blocks, using a dark blue ink for yawn and red for the mouth-styled frame, printing onto a variety of bright paper that was bright and garish, rather contradictory of yawning. Although I enjoyed the process and didn’t mind the prints, in fact some of the colour combinations I found really pleasing, the execution of the idea was not something I was entirely happy with for the exchange.
I then borrowed a friends letter stamps and ink pad, pared back the ideas, and made simply black letter marks in the centre of a white sheet of cartridge paper. I really liked the crispness and clarity of the message and it’s the type of print that I would like to hang in my own home. Success! I was ready to make my prints.
The idea of the 20:20 Print Exchange is fairly simply: you make 20 prints on paper sized 20cmx20cm, submit them to the exchange and you get 20 prints back in exchange, including one of your own. You also need to submit an additional 5 prints to make a total run of 25, and these are exhibited at five participating print houses and galleries across the UK and Ireland. This particular exchange started in 2009 and has grown to 392 artists submitting work in 2012.
There was no pressure then when I viewed previous year’s entries for inspiration. Filled with new editions in a very wide variety of styles, the underlining theme was quality. Receiving my prints in return is what I’m most excited about the exchange, and making prints I’d be proud to give someone else was my main motivation through the creative process. Hopefully my little pack of prints will be with me by Christmas and I can’t wait.