An Interview with Lauren Mortimer

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Our next exhibition will be with London based illustrator Lauren Mortimer. The opening night is on Thursday September 1, from 7-9pm, and the show will hang until the end of October.

We love Lauren’s graphite illustrations that combine nature elements in unexpected ways, and so it was very exciting when we got to sit down with Lauren for an interview and find out more about the lady herself and her artistic process.Lauren Mortimer_Profile

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
The pencil is pretty much my best friend!

You originally studied Fashion Promotion at Central St. Martins. Has that influenced your current illustration work?
I think that it must have influenced my current work on some level, though if it has, not purposefully. By not having an illustration background, it allowed me to have more freedom and find my style quickly. My work does lend itself well to the fashion world though… I do a lot of editorial work for instance for fashion magazines.Lauren Mortimer Prints_2Many of your pieces include visual puns and hidden meanings, as well as surrealist combinations. How do those themes come together for your pieces?
I think the wonderful thing about illustration is that you can create anything you like on a piece of paper. There are no limits. Though my work is very realistic, I like to mix themes and merge objects together to create something more visually exciting – something that isn’t a reality. Patterns and texture play a huge part of my work too. I like to change the meaning of the objects, and nature will always be huge starting point for me.
 

Some of the projects you’ve worked on include illustrating books. Can you tell us a bit about the process for a larger project like that?
I’ve got 5 books under my belt so far, and I’m working my way through the final artwork of my 6
th, a colouring book. The wonderful thing about big projects like these is that you have a physical product at the end of it with all of your artwork put together. You see it in a different context to the piece of paper you created it on, and you have that proud moment. When my two cocktail books, Tequila Mockingbird, and Gone With The Gin arrived in the post from the publisher, it was really exciting, and definitely a highlight for me.Lauren Mortimer_Gone With The Gin Cover GWTG_Lauren Mortimer_Blade Rummer

There is a slightly macabre and dark undertone to many of your pieces, is that something you find yourself consciously drawn to? Do you find that graphite lends itself particularly well to those themes?
I think that it’s just my style and my interests that come together that way. By contrasting an object that’s soft and beautiful with something that’s hard, for instance, enhances each of them, and creates something poetic in my eyes. For me it’s more about how the viewer interprets it. Everyone should take what he or she wants from it in their own way.

How long have you been making prints?
I’ve been producing limited edition prints for about 4 years now! Time flies!

What is your favourite takeaway?
That’s easy… Pizzzzaaaaaaa!  

Thanks so much! You can see more of Lauren’s work on our website or in the shop. Feel free to pop by on Thursday the 1st to meet her in person, enjoy the work up on the walls and have a glass of wine.

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An Interview with Freya Cumming

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Spring is just about here. Or at least surely it must be close – we can almost smell it! Also, right around the corner is our brand new exhibition with one of Of Cabbages and Kings’ longest standing collaborators Freya Cumming. Freya will be traveling down from Dundee with her latest collection of screen prints fresh of the drying rack. The private view is on Thursday May 5th from 6:30 – 9pm. We hope you can make it along. In the meantime, we caught up with Freya and found out a little bit more about her art process and influences.

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
I use them all, but if I had too choose one, my weapon of choice would be a propelling pencil. I love ’em! 

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Your art features many repetitive motifs (hot air balloons, Victorian figures, the ocean, etc.). Do you feel like you work with themes or that you are drawn to a particular image?
I don’t think that I have any particular themes other than that most of the work I enjoy making has some form of pattern, however small a detail it is, it’ll be in there! The balloon images became a theme by accident, I lived in Bristol for seven years and I thought one day I might try a balloon print, as they are such a familiar sight in the city. I enjoyed the endless possibilities of patterns and colours within the balloons and so I got quite carried away and produced a whole series of these. 

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Your images feature many built up layers. Can you tell us a bit more about that process? 
One of the pleasures of screen printing for me, is the ability to play around with the opacity of the inks when mixing them. Printing in overlapping layers, in varying opacity can come up with colours and effects that I aren’t planned, but that make printmaking more interesting for me. I like making it up as I go along! It makes what can be a very technical process, much more interesting and spontaneous.  

Can you tell us a bit more about founding Snap Studio, the artists co-operative in Bristol?
It all came about very serendipitously. My friend Frea and I were manning a pop-up shop in an old hairdressers in Bristol for a few days. We were chatting about how amazing it would be to have a studio, gallery and printmaking facilities under one roof. The man who had the keys to the hairdressers, just so happened to be the founding member of the ethical property company, and owner of  a beautiful 16th century building across the street. He offered it to us at a really reasonable rate which allowed us to seek help from the co-operative development agency in Bristol and go on to form a co-op with six other printmaking friends. We are all either just graduated/ or graduating, so it was perfect timing. It was the perfect setting- post-uni to have somewhere to work. 

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You recently moved back to your hometown in rural Scotland. Has this move changed or influenced your work? 
I’ve realised with hindsight that it did at the time. I’ve always been inspired by my surroundings so suddenly, instead of urban scenes, I was drawing chickens and squirrels. I found I missed the urban landscape and I realised there was a danger that my work was unintentionally becoming overly countrified, so I moved my studio from the village to nearby Dundee.

How long have you been printing?
I learned to screen print the same year I graduated in 2001 – so on and off, around fifteen years of squeegeeing ! 

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What is your favourite takeaway?
All of them?!. I live in the middle of nowhere though so takeaway is rare! No-one will deliver this far either 😦

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Q&A with Tiff Howick

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We are excited to announce our next exhibition will be with Tiff Howick. It will run from Thursday February 4th, with an opening preview on Wednesday February 3rd from 6:30-9pm.

Tiff’s artwork features striking portraits of animals, focusing on dogs and British wildlife. They are done with a loose, expressive style in black ink, printed over a strong colour on crisp white paper.

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What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
It is very hard to choose, I would say overall it’s a paintbrush, I really enjoy experimenting with brushmarks to create different textures.  

Your art features striking portraits of animals. Have you always been drawn to animals?
I have, I grew up with pets – Jack Russells, rabbits and guinea pigs. I also spent my summer holidays in Norway where there were sheep grazing in the forests and we’d see squirrels, deer and elk.  

Your animals are very expressive, like they each have their own personality. Is that something that evolves as each animal is drawn?
Mostly the expression is intentional, I’ll have a reference image with an animal in a pose that I think represents a particular behaviour or emotion such as the spirited French Bulldog or the thoughtful Greyhound.  Sometimes the expressions evolve and either reflect the mood I’m in when I’m drawing or I make subtle changes to the eyes to create an overall feeling that works for the drawing. 

Reading the expressions in my screen prints is subjective, people commenting on my work have seen a variety of different emotions. 

Your art is inspired by your Scandinavian heritage, vintage children’s illustrations, and contemporary fashion illustration. On the surface these styles are quite different, what is it within them that you think draws them all together so successfully?
Over time I have incorporated in to my work the elements of each style that I most admire.  Limited colour palettes from Scandinavian design and the creation of striking images with just one or two colours.  The bold colours are from Scandinavia and my childhood picture books, two of my all-time favourite illustrators are Carl Larsson and Richard Scarry.  The loose, textured brush marks and sketchy lines are inspired by fashion illustration, I am a huge fan of David Downton’s work. 

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One of your most popular prints has been the Yellow Hare, which features a bright splash of yellow. Some of your prints feature colours that are not traditionally associated with the animal depicted. Do you feel that the colour can change the mood of the animal?
I’ve used bright primary colours to represent extreme versions of the animal’s natural colour, using one vibrant colour to simplify the final image. This sometimes ties in with the mood of the piece, the bright red fox staring assertively over it’s shoulder.  The hare is resting but alert, the bright yellow also representing a hot day in a cornfield.  

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How long have you been printing?
I first printed a long time ago on an art foundation course.  I rediscovered screenprinting fairly recently and have been using it to create most of my work for just over three years. Tiff-Howick-screenprinting-work-images

What is your favourite takeaway?
Since starting to work for myself I’ve researched and read a lot about how to make it work.  I would say the best advice, and the hardest for me to stick to, is to focus. Being creative my head is always full of new ideas, there are so many things I want to do and experiment with.  To make a living out of work that I really enjoy I’ve had to pick one idea and work really hard to make my screenprints as good as they can be. 

Or if you mean food it would have to be Indian :o) 

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Kingdom Under A Hat /// A Tour Of Factory Press

We’re very excited at Of Cabbages and Kings, to be hosting the launch of the latest edition from Factory Press Kingdom Under A Hat on Thursday 5th March, and last week I cycled over to Clapton to meet the creator – artist, designer and printmaker Liz Loveless. The book is the 9th published by Factory Press and I visited Liz at her studio and shop on the site of a disused ice cream factory just off Chatsworth Road to discuss the story behind it.

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A few years ago Liz had been asked to do some illustrations based upon the story of The Rock Garden of Chandigarh in India: A secret world built entirely from rubbish scavenged by it’s creator Nek Chand. This ‘Kingdom’ as Chand liked to refer to it, consisted of man-made interlinked waterfalls and other sculptures made of scrap and waste (bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, etc.) which were placed in walled paths.

The hidden garden had been built in a gorge Chand believed to be wasteland outside the city and no one found it for 19 years. It was discovered by the authorities in 1975, by which time, it had grown into a 12-acre complex of interlinked courtyards, each filled with hundreds of pottery-covered concrete sculptures of dancers, musicians, and animals. A battle then commenced to save the garden from demolition and it was finally granted public space status in 1976.

In January 2014 Liz had the opportunity to visit the garden herself and once again felt inspired by the story of Nek Chand and his secret rock garden. She started gathering discarded wrappers and other paper scraps from the pathways around the garden itself, which she bought back home to use and interweave into her own expression of the rock garden story. These collaged, enlarged sweet wrappers now decorate the end papers of her book.

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Liz often combines collage techniques with hand-pulled silkscreen to create the illusion of texture over a flat surface. Her books start life as A1 sheets of paper screen printed in 3 colours on both sides and finish as limited editions hand bound in cloth or card. Kingdom Under A Hat will be an edition of 650. These large sheets are then guillotined into double pages, arranged in order, folded with the bone folder, measured, hole punched and hand sewn to form the body of the book.

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As I watched Liz at each step in the book making process I began to truly understand the love and craftsmanship that goes into constructing each and every one. The next stage was the nipping press. I’d been eying up this beautiful object since I’d entered the studio and couldn’t wait to see Liz put it into action. Liz cases the books in grey card, glues the end papers and covers the spine with bright coral book cloth. The nipping press will only hold 4 books at a time. Cellophane is placed between the pages to prevent the ink from sticking and the books are left overnight, sealing the endpapers to the cover and pressing the pages completely flat. By morning the new books are ready to be numbered and added to the edition.

On Thursday 5th March we’ll be hosting a very special evening to launch the new book. Liz will be at the shop with so please join us on a journey to the magical rock garden of Chandigarh, see Liz’s photo collage installation including a life size bicycle and watch a short supporting animation as well as grab your copy of this beautiful limited edition, hand-pulled silk screen printed, hardback, hand-bound book. There’ll probably be drink or two going round too!

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