‘Medusa’ by Neil Stavely

‘Medusa’ by Neil Stavely

As soon as I came across this lino print, I knew I had to make it mine, as it mixes two of my favourite things; my love of retro tattoo art and the curiosity I have about the mythology of Medusa. Along with his wife/partner-in-crime Kerry, the Stavely’s create art that draws inspiration from all over the place- tarot cards, animals and even Richard Scarry.

Name: My wife Kerry and I are partners in a small business called the Horse & Hare. The name is derived from our Chinese Zodiac. I am a Hare and Kerry is a Horse.
Location: We live and work in Winchester, Virginia. Winchester is located in Northern Virginia about an hour west of Washington D.C.
Weapon of choice (medium in which you create!) and why?
Most of my output in the past few years have been linoleum block prints (linocuts). I think I’ve gravitated towards block printing in part because of the reductive nature of the medium. I have a tendency to overwork things so working on block prints force me to finish a project or else all the material will be carved away and I will be left with nothing.  I also do mixed media painting (often incorporating linocut elements).  I’m also trying to transition into woodcut printmaking and I work full time as a tattooer.
Tell me about Horse & Hare, what is it that you do?
My primary role in the Horse & Hare partnership is creating the majority of the linocuts and doing most of the actual printing. Kerry does her share of printing and carving as well but she tends to push the marketing and business side of things.
The subject of your artwork appears to come from all over the place; animals, authors, ancient mythology, children books. What does inspire your artwork? When you stumble across something, what makes you want to turn it into art?
Some of the first serious prints I made were based on images from the Tarot deck. I was attracted to the Tarot because of the fantastic and archetypal imagery and also because it references back to the early days of printmaking. Card decks, including the Tarot, were among the first materials produced with early printing technologies. From there, I just started working on anything which strikes my fancy. Some projects have originated as commissions but generally I just make things that seem like they would be fun to carve. Often I gravitate towards images that have a bit of a literary feel such as the author series or the latin name pieces which have a pseudo-scientific aesthetic which you could almost imagine stumbling across in an eccentric textbook.
What was the inspiration behind the ‘Medusa’ print?

The origins of the Medusa print actually arise out of teaching a lesson on ancient greek pottery at my daughter’s school. In preparing for the lesson I rediscovered the Medusa mythology and of course found it fascinating.

What are the details of ‘Medusa’ (ink, paper used etc.)
The Medusa is a small linocut print (probably the first in a series of images based on greek myths) printed in water based block printing ink on cardstock paper.
As a tattoo artist, what do you think when you see your artwork on someone’s body?
I view tattooing as a craft. Unlike a painting or printmaking project the point of origin for a tattoo comes from the customer and my ultimate job is to please them, more-so than myself. Of course my own aesthetics come in to play and I want it to look good, but it’s a different process than creating something  to satisfy my own needs and curiosities. That said, when I see a client and they love their tattoo it’s a feeling of satisfaction and of a job well done.
What has been the most challenging design you’ve had to create for a client? 
I started getting my feet wet in the tattoo business about 14 years ago and it’s hard to pick out a particular piece I would consider the most challenging. Any time you have to step out of your comfort zone can be challenging. I always think some of the simplest designs can be the most nerve wracking. The slightest imperfection in a circle with a straight line through it will show up like a sore thumb.                      Who are your artistic idols?
There are so many… Gregory Gillespi, Albrecht Durer, Max Beckmann, Ivan Allbright, Tony Fitzpatrick, Lucas Cranach, Phillip Guston,  just to name a few. Much of my favorite work was done by anonymous craftspeople. I love old buddhist paintings, illuminated manuscripts, gothic cathedrals and woodcuts from the early days of printing.Do you have a favourite piece of work,? Something you are particularly proud of?
There are a handful of pieces I’ve done over the years that I think are Good with a capital ‘G’. I tend to reserve judgement on my work for a year or two. When something is new I feel like it’s hard to be objective about it. Either I’m so excited about it that I think it’s better than it really is or I’m so frustrated that it hasn’t lived up to unrealistic expectations that I hate it. It generally takes a lengthy cooling off period before I can see a piece for what it is.Are you working on anything special currently? 
Recently, I’ve been messing around  with carving wood blocks for woodcut printing, unfortunately  I may have to give it up because that, in combination with tattooing seems to be destroying my wrist. I’ve just started a circus seal linocut I’m excited about. I’m also working on a linocut on the subject of tattoo machine frames and a handful of paintings.

‘Love is my drug’ by Lexie Harding

‘Love is my drug’ by Lexie Harding

Reminiscent of a theatrical Betty Boop animation (or maybe even a little Toot Braunstein from Drawn Together) Lexie Harding’s lino cut of a woman throwing back a prescription container full of love hearts grabbed my interest not only through it’s vintage simplicity, but also through a subtle sense of sarcasm, making you almost scoff at the hopelessness of the print’s subject. Harding answered a few questions for me, though I’m still kind of puzzled as to how her works comes out so eery.

Name: Lexie Harding
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Weapon of choice (medium in which you create!) and why?

Linocuts and collagraphs. I enjoy the process of printmaking with its intense tactile qualities. The smell of ink, different textures of paper, malleability of linoleum and the physical act of wiping ink from collagraph plates.

What generally influences your artwork?

People, places and events in my life are the inspiration of my work.

You explain in your Etsy bio that your ideas come from everyday living; things you hear on the street and things your daughters say, however your work possesses  a slightly sinister side, even your print Family  has an ‘American Gothic’  feel; is this something you try and achieve, creating something strange out of what may have been a fleeting moment of over-heard conversation?

I take snippets from everyday life and use them to make an image that tells a story, often poignantly satirical.

‘Love is my Drug’ radiates a 1920s drama about it, like a theatrical Betty Boop cartoon; what was the inspiration for the piece?

Recently I read an article entitled Love is the New Drug and from that I envisioned this image.

What are the details of Love is my Drug? (Inks, paper used etc.)

 I’ve printed Love is my Drug on Somerset Satin paper using Graphic Chemical & Ink Co. black oil based ink.

Who are your artistic idols?

Artistic idols … that’s hard. I love William Steig’s illustrations, Grown Ups Get To Do All The Driving is one of my favourite children’s books. Colin Moore (printmaker), Robin Arseneault (installation artist) and Ken Housego (mixed media).

Do you have a favourite piece of work,? Something you are particularly proud of?

I have a collage piece that I won’t part with. It’s made up of a mix of 30 – 2″ x 3″ linocuts, watercolours and found items.

Are you working on anything special currently? 

I am currently working on a collagraph called Duke’s Last Meal. An old watch dog moves to a farm to live out his last years, eats the family’s pet rabbit and dies in his sleep.

 Lexie Harding on Etsy

‘Belfast Cranes’ by Will White

‘Belfast Cranes’ by Will White

While many, myself included, would pass off such an unforgiving landscape of metal-on-metal, Will White sees a living organism like an army of ants at work, and brings to life the Belfast construction site through his brilliant use of shades and the detail created through his delicate line work;  a piece that captures a sense of both the complex and the simple. Oh, and he also probably engineered your vacuum cleaner!

Name you credit your work with: I sign my work Will White, though my Etsy site is William White (only my Mum calls me William.)
Location: Hillsborough, Northern Ireland.

Weapon of choice (medium in which you create!) and why?

Etching is my favourite, it’s such a traditional process. The big hand driven presses and even the smell of the inks and hard ground feels hundreds of years old.

Where do you tend to draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration is from the things I see around me. “Stop the car look at that amazing ploughed field”. Even the shadows of pot plants on a sunny day will get me going.

You mention on your Etsy bio that you made the move from England to Ireland; did this have an effect on the art you created, if so-how?

I moved to Ireland a year ago so my girlfriend could be closer to her family. I had been working as a vacuum design engineer for Dyson for the previous ten years in England. It has had a massive effect on my work, as it has gone from a hobby to full time job overnight. I split my time 50/ 50 with jewellery making so I stay fresh on both disciplines.

What attracted you to creating Belfast Cranes

You only have to see the cranes in Belfast and you want to create something. It must be the engineer in me.

There is something almost clinical about Belfast Cranes yet you describe the material you use, zinc and copper, give the image ‘warmth’; why is it you want to create a sense of ‘warmth’ in such a stark image?

The cranes are old and somehow alive and part of the landscape. I don’t see them as stark or cold.

What are the details of Belfast Cranes? (Inks, paper etc both of the original and of the print available for purchase.)

The etching is from a zinc plate and the paper is Somerset. The edition [currently for sale] is 31 and I have about twenty left.

You are also a jeweller- do your drawings influence the jewellery you create? A way of garnering ideas?

Being a jeweller does have some affect. I have been developing a technique were I cut the etching plate in to pieces using a fine jewellery saw like a jigsaw puzzle. This allowed me to ink the parts separately and get a multi-colour print. As for it affecting the generation of ideas, I’m not sure it does, at least not consciously.

Who are your artistic idols (if any?)

[David] Hockney and Peter Blake are the artists I’m most influenced by when I’m oil painting. As for print making, I don’t think of any other print makers. I am still grappling with the technique and trying to push my technical knowledge. I do love Bridget Ryely and Patrick Colefield, though they are very different printmakers in every respect.

Do you have a favourite piece of work,? Something you are particularly proud of?

My favourite piece of work is always the next one. I have very little attachment to finished work. I can immediately see the things I would try and do better next time.

Are you working on anything special currently?

I’m focusing on jewellery for the next month or so. Something to make a etching of will come along it always does. I have a commission to do of a church that I’ve been putting off, I think I like things to come to me not the other way round. I have been waiting for a sunny day so there is lots of contrast and hard shadows. I could be waiting a long time in Northern Ireland.

Will White on Etsy (Prints)
Will White on Etsy (Jewellery)

‘Books’ by Mateus Domingos

‘Books’ by Mateus Domingos

Through his use of pen on paper, Mateus Domingo creates stories. I’ve not read his work with words, but if it’s anything like his simple yet ingenious illustrations, his words must create unusual, sometimes sad but engaging tales.   Mateus’ naked characters are often found in strange situations, creating a subtle dark humour that definitely made me smile. He was kind enough to answer some questions for me about what happens when pen hits paper. 

Name you credit your work with: Mateus Domingos

Weapon of choice (medium in which you create!) and why?

Pen and card for drawing and writing, it’s easy to switch between ideas.

Where do you tend to draw your inspiration from?

All kinds of films inspire the composition of the drawings.

On your Etsy page, you explain ‘These drawings often feature naked people, chairs, yoga, falling, running and balancing’; why is it that you find yourself attracted to drawing these themes?

I seem to like drawing people and people doing these actions are often funny or strange. They are also simple things and they look especially funny (but also sad and lonely) when the character is naked. I’ve just been through art school so I’ve got a lot of theoretical hang ups about how I make work and reducing an element of my practice to the drawing of these actions is quite a nice way of stepping outside of all that. I also like the idea that it can be reduced to a list of things like that as it establishes rules to be broken!

You also explain that you are primarily a writer; do you find your drawings and writing feed off of each other in any way? Do you find when drawing you create ideas for your writing, and vice versa?

The writing is usually about exactly the same ideas as I’m usually trying to explore in the drawing, which are issues of time, reality, love, desire and loss. They are happening to different characters though and in different worlds so I don’t really see them as in direct dialogue. I think it’s often more important that the drawings are funny, and maybe it’s the positioning of these characters in funny ways that influences the writing, just through that consideration of the body.

Was there anything specific that influenced your drawing Books?

I often draw or write things to see if I believe them. I think I wanted to know whether I believed in books.

What are the details of Books? (Inks, paper used etc.)

Black fineliner on 200gsm card.

Who are your artistic idols?

John Baldessari and Joan Miró especially. These drawings are probably the result of a high exposure to Gary Larson’s The Far Sidewhen I was younger.

Do you have a favourite piece of work,? Something you are particularly proud of?

Of the drawings I have online right now, I really like Remorse. Sometimes the figures come out a little too normal, In Remorse the guy has a good weirdness. Also it’s one of the ones that i find quite happy and sad.

Are you working on anything special currently?  

I’m working on an edit of a short novel I wrote. It’s the first time I’ve worked with an editor and the collaboration aspect of it is really good and I think it’s adding a lot to the original text.

 Mateus Domingos’ on Etsy
Mateus Domingos’ Website

‘Bumble Bees’ by Michael Torrance

‘Bumble Bees’ by Michael Torrance

Michael Torrance’s lino print Bumble Bees caught my eye one day while trawling through Etsy. It initially exudes a bold contemporary aesthetic through its simplicity and sparse use of  bright colours, but the more I looked the more i was reminded of the pages of a vintage encyclopedia displaying a line up of insects and their scientific names. The Glaswegian artist briefly answered a few questions for me about his artwork and it’s inspirations.

Name you credit your work with: Tournesol Prints
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Weapon of choice (medium in which you create!) and why?

Linoprinting as it is the easiest medium with which to print and for now, I don’t have much room in which to work.

Before discovering lino printing/ relief printing in art school, what was your medium and why did you take to lino print?

No specific medium but I found the strong contrast in lino print very interesting.

In general, what do you draw inspiration from, for your work?

In general anything from natural although buildings and architecture are always interesting too.

What I’ve seen of your work on Etsy, it usually depicts not just natural scenes but the intricacies of nature; insects, feathers, flower seeds- is it challenge trying to recreate/interpret these delicate structures?

There is a challenge in using the materials as they can be unforgiving, but rewarding when the print is successful.

Was there any particular inspiration behind Bumble Bees, how did the idea for the lino print spawn?

Last year there was a lot in the news about the decline of bees and what people could do to encourage them in gardens.

What are the details of the Bumble Bees print? (ink, paper details etc.)

Linseed oil based ink on Zerkall mould made paper.

Who are your artistic idols (if any?)

Angie Lewin, David Hockney.

Are you working on anything special currently? 

More dandelions.

Do you have a favourite piece of work that you have done? Something you are particularly proud of?

Nothing in particular, I just hope to try and improve on each piece of work.