Celebrating Sussex Printmakers
Updated: Sep 15
This month and next, August/September 2021, we celebrate some of the great, local printmakers we have right here in Sussex.
The four Sussex Printmakers we want to highlight are:
Nick Bodimeade - etchings, dry points and woodcuts
Patrick Edgeley - Pop-Art screen prints
Tom Hammick - etchings, dry points and woodcuts
Phil Tyler - etchings, woodcuts and screen prints
Before we look at some of their work, let's explore the process of printmaking.
Why do artists create prints?
There are several reasons why:
Creating an original print (see below) makes an artist's work accessible to more people, and also those who may not be able to afford a painting. Generally an artist's editions are priced at 15-30% of the cost of an equivalent sized painting.
Artists use the various techniques as a challenge. Working in any one of the various printmaking techniques (etching, dry point, woodcut, lithography, screen print, etc) can be quite difficult, especially if you choose to create an 'edition variable' where each print in the series is slightly different from the others. (Tom Hammick often produces edition variables)
The particular print medium chosen can provide the result the artist is looking for in the final artwork: This could be the transparent inks chosen, the layering of tissue (chin colle) or the depth that can be achieved in etching. So even if the subject chosen is the same as a painting, the editions version can yield appreciably different results. (see Phil Tyler’s Downland paintings and prints)
As a consequence of (3) above, some artists choose to work with print techniques in parallel to painting so that the two mediums can benefit each other. (see Nick Bodimeade’s Beach series)
An artist may only produce original prints, see the work of Patrick Edgeley where he pushes the boundaries of screen printing with multiple layers, glazes and metallics.
Finally, it could be that the artist has found a print making studio or publisher that they enjoy working with. This relationship can be fruitful for all parties, especially when there is an interchange of ideas.
What is an Original Print?
An original print is a unique work of art created in an edition, series or multiple printed by hand, either by the artist or by a professional assistant (often called an artisan), from a plate, block, stone, or stencil that has been hand created by the artist for the sole purpose of producing the desired image. It is not a reproduction of another image.
Although there are a number of the same image in an edition, each numbered print is an individual part of the whole (and may vary to a greater or lesser extent from others), the whole series being the edition.
An 'Original Print' is thus actually one piece from a multiple work of art.
The artist traditionally keeps a separate group of prints aside from the edition marked as artist's proofs, normally about ten or less. These are marked AP, sometimes with an edition number after (such as: AP 2 / 5) to indicate how many AP's there are.
In addition when developing the image an artist may pull many experimental images before modifying the plates to achieve the finished product. These are referred to as state proofs, trial proofs, or color proofs. When the image is finally perfected the printer's proof or 'Bon-a-Tirer' (signed BAT or PP) is pulled. This is the image that the rest of the edition is matched to and there is only one of these. The artisan printer traditionally gets to keep the printer's proof.
Sometimes a print 'edition' is produced as a reproduction of a painting using a digital image of the original artwork. These are 'giclee' or digital prints, which although use good inks and are printed on archival paper are not what we would describe as an Original Print.
Reproduction editions are not considered 'Fine Art' and in fact many Art Fairs and galleries refuse to allow them. It should be noted that there is an exception: Where the artwork has been produced digitally, for example on a computer or iPad/iPhone (as by Hockney) then a digital or giclee print might be the only way the image can be printed as a limited edition.
The four printmakers we are looking at here all make Original Prints and have a hand in printing them themselves (completely in most cases).
How big should an edition be?
A limited edition series of prints has a value because of the quantity produced/published is fixed. Once that number have been made/sold then no more can be done and often the plate is destroyed or marked with a cross (in the case of a metal plate).
Artists can, and sometimes do, create an 'open' edition where the number is not limited.
This might be to produce a work that is cheaper than a normal edition, to make a work that is widely available or to promote the artist's limited edition work.
Buy limiting the quantity, the artist can create a scarcity in the work. This can set the value when sold and help maintain or increase the value in the secondary market. Indeed, often when a print is first sold the price increases as the edition sells out.
They smaller the edition size the better (the more scarce the series is), and so in theory also the more valuable.
A quantity of 250 or more may be considered large, 100 or less is a better number. There may be reasons that the artist or publisher opt for a high number and this may be due to the artist's fame and the fact that they now demand will be high.
Many emerging contemporary artists like the ones above, produce editions of 50 or less, even as low as 5.
This might be because they prefer to keep to low edition numbers, but also because of the technique used.
Below we look at each of the artists in turn with a selection of their editions, to view ALL available works by all four go to Sussex Printmakers in our Editions Shop.
Nick Bodimeade is based near Lewes and creates paintings and some prints.
His painting subjects include landscapes and his popular Beach series of works. For his printmaking Nick Bodimeade likes to be more experimental as exemplified with his Beach, Chair & Lurcher series of editions. With these woodcuts he is pushing the boundaries to see how he can represent his subject in different ways.
He also produces some etchings and dry points some with chin colle.
See the small selection below, click on an image to find out more or view all of Nick Bodimeade's available editions here.
Patrick Edgeley creates limited edition Pop Art screen prints that employ bold, hand drawn text and imagery. Americana, signs, packaging and pop culture are a great influence in these hand printed works.
A love for all things typographical can be seen through out Edgeley's screen prints, something that stems from his many years work as a graphic designer. The screen prints are produced in short, limited edition runs.
Patrick Edgeley carefully creates is editions, with many layers including metals and glazes to complete each image.
See the small selection below, click on an image to find out more or view all of Patrick Edgeley's available editions here.
Tom Hammick is an award winning painter/printmaker who describes the landscape in his work as a metaphor to explore an “imaginary and mythological dreamscape.”
He draws from a wide range of sources, including Japanese woodblock prints & Northern European Romantic painting and contemporary cinema.
Tom Hammick’s ‘visionary’ images of isolated human dwellings grounded in uncanny dream-like settings summon the uneasy atmosphere of a psychologically-charged thriller, or a dystopian suburban nightmare.
His works is characterised by myth, woven together with personal memory, as well as his mesmeric use of colour, vivid outlines and expressive mark-making.
See the small selection below, click on an image to find out more or view all of Tom Hammick's available editions here.
Phil Tyler is a versatile painter/printmaker.
With thirty years of teaching experience, Phil Tyler is currently senior lecturer at the University of Brighton, School of Art and Media.
He has written several books on drawing and painting the nude and the landscape.
Phil Tyler has appeared on both Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year and also Portrait Artist of the Year.
On top of all that he is also a practising professional artist whose work covers the South Downs, Self Portraits and Still Life.
See the small selection below, click on an image to find out more or view all of Phil Tyler's available editions here.