Get your hands dirty

13 July 2018
By – Mike Sweeting

Mike Print

As graphic designers we often find ourselves sat behind our iMac for 7+ hours a day. Then we pack up and head off home to stare at some more screens for just a little bit longer. It was an easy trap to fall into! And it was this cycle that led me to want to explore and learn some new skills. To get my hands dirty… or in this case inky.

I had a style in mind and I had the drive to want to create it, but first I needed to decide on the medium. After some research Linocut printing seemed to scream out as a printing method that required a good amount of hands on skill (which I would need to learn) and inky expression. The precision of the design mixed with the hand carved roughness of the lino.

As an evening project I would have limited time to work on this. An hour here. An hour there. So I started sketching! Filling pages of my notebook (one of many notebooks!) with pages and pages of ideas and doodles.

I knew that I wanted my first print to be based on a geometric form (that’s the designer in me), but it would also need to have elements of mystery and symbolism. I wanted the print to mean something different to everyone who looked at it.

After settling on a concept and developing it until I was happy, I began to source the equipment I would need. Now this was to be done on a shoestring budget. Needs must! But I am lucky enough to know some amazing people who pointed me in the right direction. And there I was, one evening, carving my illustration into the first block of lino. This was exciting!

A splodge of ink and things got serious! And just like that, one after one, I was printing! And it was easier than I expected. It was so fun realising a vision and seeing it through to the end. But was it worth it? What did I actually take away from my first lino print?

Well… this has reminded me to worry less about being a perfectionist and to embrace the imperfections that make something unique. It has also highlighted how important it is to push myself creatively, get my hands dirty and always follow my curiosity!

Side projects allow us to explore our creativity, learn new things and remind ourselves that as ‘creatives’ we have an amazing talent to turn our hand to pretty much anything and make it a success!

Actually, this blog post started off as one of these side projects. A challenge to myself to step out of my comfort zone and be creative in a different way.

Anyway, I’m off to start planning my next project. Thanks for reading.

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