From a tiny spare room, to something much bigger...
I suppose you could say it all started when I was finding my way as a linocut printer working from a tiny spare room. I’d got the usual starter kit for my birthday and was interested in aping things like gig posters I’d seen, the work of Billy Childish, Picasso, that humble kind of thing.
But as anyone who’s starting out in linocut knows, those kinds of artworks might well be the result of years and years of practice and require a skill level some 1,000 times higher than your average beginner’s. But the beautiful thing about the medium is you can get instant results. At home. Using just a wooden spoon and black ink.
The possibilities seemed endless, and there followed a couple of years of me continually wanting to move onto the next project as my skills slowly developed, my patience levels rose and my desire to problem solve grew. I’d go to sleep at night thinking about the best way to cut different stages of a reduction print.
But I also wanted to seek advice, to get tips and tricks from other linocut artists (I operated a ‘strictly linocut’ policy!). I took to social media and found a world of people with the same passions, more so in many cases. And it struck me that I could ask them questions and use their responses for a blog. A linocut blog.
And so, Probably Prints was born.
For the next couple of years I tried to interview a different lincoutter every week. People were so forthcoming – I managed to interview the likes of Gail Brodholt, Dave Lefner, Linocut Boy and Paul Catherall, as well as profiling works of artists I loved who for whatever reason I couldn’t reach (they were dead, they were rock stars…).
The next step was where the Pressing Matters world came into my life – I had an email from John there, who had a frankly loony idea to launch a magazine in an age when they were largely dying out – commercial ones at least. I think I initially did maybe one or two articles in issue one, and then – pow! – it appeared on the doormat. And it was, as you’ll know, a thing of beauty.
Amazing quickly, things accelerated - I wrote more, the circulation increased, and we even got lovely subscribers, and the magazine started to get a real name for itself in the printing world – covering all sorts of printers and techniques. I found I could apply what I’d learnt about linocut to other printing mediums, soon developing a taste for everything from typesetting to screenprinting, and way, way more besides.
And that’s where you find us now – on the cusp of releasing issue four, one of the most varied so far and one which contains some of the articles I’m most proud of from over all four we’ve done. And the stockpile of things to cover keeps growing, we’ve enough to go on and on – we’ll start work on issue five next week I imagine. It's relentless…
The beauty of printmakers and the printmaking world though is that there’s always enthusiasm. People always want to talk about printing. We’ve seen it at print fairs and launch nights. And that’s why I’m confident Pressing Matters will continue to grow – both in scope and reach. And I love the way it evolves, and also my own evolution from inside it – I can trace it right back to those days in a messy spare room with a wooden spoon….