I love to read blogs, and posts on Instagram, of artists and printmakers that reveal a glimpse into their working lives and processes. The posts I love most show what a studio is really like, prints pinned up drying with a background of muddle and printing paraphernalia. I find myself peering at the books on the shelves and the postcards and clippings pinned to the wall, sometimes zooming in to write down a title or see what ink they are using – we all love to peek into other people’s lives and writing a blog about what you are making gives the opportunity for others to see how you create your own work.
Showing preliminary drawings as part of the process
The window that the internet and social media has given artists has been a brilliant opportunity to showcase what they do to a new and wide audience. Being a printmaker or artist is by necessity quite an isolated business and, so regularly showing your work, through a blog, to a wide and interested audience, gives others a unique insight into how you make your work.
Layout drawing ready to be traced onto the lino block
People love to know about the person making the art, they like to know the story of how a piece of work has evolved and of the trials and triumphs along the way and a blog is a great way to do that. Instagram too allows you to chart this with daily posts of what you are doing; but a blog allows you more space to talk more about each stage in detail, as well as your influences and inspiration.
Carving the lino
It is important too to share the artistic mistakes and how you learned from them. We all know that projects don’t always go to plan and some wither before they have got far off the ground. What looked great as a drawing, may not translate well into a print. It is helpful to others to know that they are not alone in this and you are showing that it is good to take artistic risks. Being creative is not a linear process and learning from what you do is a useful lesson to share.
Using a white pencil to show where the highlights should be carved
Good, clear images are really important to illustrate your text and it is good to get into the habit of recording each stage of the progress of an artwork with close up photographs to give insight into how a piece is produced. It is interesting for you too to look back on how something has progressed as we often forget the journey a print makes.
Inking the lino of “Cormorant”
The use of video is on the rise as an effective marketing tool and now you can easily use your phone and camera to film short clips of you in action. There is nothing like seeing someone actually doing something to help others understand how a process works.
Printmaking has a unique advantage over many other art forms because it has several stages of varying activity that can be demonstrated either through photos or film. And you can share the excitement on film of a print rolling off the press for the very first time, giving a real ta-da moment!
This may sound like an awful lot of effort, but the advantages far outweigh the time it may take. Over and above showcasing your work, it gives you the opportunity to gain valuable feedback into what you are working on as it progresses – having fresh eyes look at what you do can give perspective. Encouraging comments too can spur you on and give you a lift when you are uncertain about whether something works. And, because you are writing about what you do, it helps clarify your intention about an image in a way you might not otherwise have considered.
But most significantly, it provides a link to a worldwide artistic community with whom you can share your own experiences and discoveries. You can show tools, your preliminary sketches, your methods and processes, and the suppliers you use to make your work. You can shout about all the good things you have found and, in turn, find out what others do too.
Me in my studio next to my converted mangle printing press
A blog needs to be written regularly and consistently to help build and maintain your following. It is not always easy to find fresh subjects to write about, but each post needn’t be a long one, they can be brief updates on forthcoming exhibitions or workshops, or what you have seen that inspires you. Invite comments from your readers and read and comment on other people’s blogs as a way to building up your network.
So, take the plunge, using one of the many blogging platforms out there, such as Wordpress or Squarespace, or add a blog to your website to increase traffic, or maybe start posting daily on Instagram. All of this will help to promote your work and tap you into an artistic community. You never know where it might lead!