As a vain, self obsessed and massively over-critical guy (hey, it’s art!), I’m always amazed at people who take time to help others with their work.
One such bod I uncovered on my cyber travels recently is Mat Pringle, a London-based illustrator and printmaker who is keenly involved in numerous initiatives that promote printing and art in general, often to little folk and local communities.
So he’s mega busy, but still found the time to answer my questions. All hail!
Can you remember when you first did linocut?
I did some during my A-Levels and remember bodging my way through a portrait of a soldier, hating every single part of the process. I then took a 20-year hiatus and had a go at it again when my girlfriend bought a starter kit for me a few years ago.
I still hated it – the cutting part was fine but the printing part seemed deeply unsatisfying. I tried a few different techniques and inks and eventually became quite smitten with the process.
Which print artists influence you?
I’ve got into printmaking arse-about-face, like much of my career, so it’s since I’ve been cutting lino I’ve become more interested in print artists – those apocalyptic end-of-days intensely detailed prints by Albrecht Durer tend to do it for me. I love early woodcuts about witchcraft too.
What non-print things inspire your prints?
Lots of things – music (I’m a record nerd), films, comics, books, folklore, bestiaries, cryptozoology, flora and fauna.
How come you “stumbled into illustration”?
I’ve been around the houses a bit – I’ve been a GIS analyst, a painter and decorator and a fireman – it took a short course in digital design at the London College of Communication for me to consider trying to draw things for a living. I’ve always loved drawing but never considered it a career.
Tell me a little bit about your printing set up…
I have a studio in Woolwich but I work in a bedroom printer fashion. That’s one of the main things I love about linocut – everything is reasonably cheap. All you need is a bit of space and some sadomasochistic/OCD tendencies and you’re away…
What inks/paper do you use?
Do you screenprint?
Yes I do, my studio complex in Woolwich has a wonderful print studio affiliated to it which I use sporadically. I’m a full time newish dad right now though, so most of my creative endeavours have taken a kicking of late.
What’s the caper with Brit Kids, which you assist with?
I work as a part time art technician at the BRIT School and someone in their wisdom decided I should do some teaching at the Saturday school there – BRIT Kids. I was massively apprehensive but I love it now, I teach 12-15 year olds Illustration and Printmaking for two hours every Saturday morning. I learn as much from them as they do from me; the way they go at making prints is so instantaneous and fearless it’s inspiring.
And can you explain what Puck is?
Puck is an illustration collective that put on exhibitions, workshops and events made up of thirty odd different artists and illustrators. Every year or so the members are culled and we bring in fresh blood – it’s not as cut-throat as it sounds – people generally move on to do other things but the new members tend to energise us and push us on to new things.
Where did the red font on your Labour prints come from? I like them lots.
Thanks! It was from Dafont! Although I cheated, it’s not from the actual lino. Cutting letters in lino is not something I enjoy.
How much time goes into working colours out?
I don’t tend to think colours are my strong point. I’m drawn to a few colours that often crop up in my prints, but it’s definitely not something I overthink. When I print I’m very much “close enough/that’ll do”… not well proffesh I admit. I would say I tend to know when they’re not working, so that might be my saving grace.
What are your ambitions for your printing?
I’d like to do lots more printing. I had a wild idea I’d make a comic using linocut prints but given I’ve just taken a couple of years on and off to finish a nine page comic strip using pens perhaps that’s a bit silly. I did a print series for FACT magazine last year for a fortnightly mix and it was great to turn around pieces so quickly. More of that would be great.
I also want to do more reduction prints. The process still stresses me out massively but I feel like I’m getting closer to doing it reasonably well.
I’m currently involved in a public art project in Thornton Heath where five of my linocuts will be developed into a mural. It also involved printmaking workshops with the local community so more projects like that would be amazing.