Meet the Maker: Alison Headley
20 October 2017
author: Hannah Burgess
So this month we're really getting back into linocutting with our modern craft kits and loving it! We thought we'd get in touch with a linocutting expert to learn more about the craft of the month here at Craftiosity. Alison Headley was our first port of call as we're big fans of her striking and quirky linocut art and really wanted to share her work and words of wisdom with you guys!
We asked Alison about her inspiration, process, tips and future projects in the pipeline. Without further ado, here's the interview...
"During the year long evening course I learned all the different types of printmaking methods but it was Linocutting which I fell in love with most."
How did you first get into linocutting?
It was five years ago. My husband and I had decided to move back to England after nearly 20 years in Italy. I had a daughter, who was 15months old and I'd left my teaching job of 17 years. It was a time of massive changes. I was a bit at sea with our new life but I came across the local open studios going on in our area and there was a printmaking workshop happening, it was something I'd always wanted to try. It was just a few hours over two days but it brought me into contact with printmaking and the lovely artist running it suggested I try a course at the local adult college which she'd done herself and recommended. During the year long evening course I learned all the different types of printmaking methods but it was Linocutting which I fell in love with most.
Can you tell us how your first linocutting project went?
It was the very last part of the printmaking course at the adult college. We had studied all of the printmaking methods, from etching, collographs, silkscreen to dry point, and I'd had varying degrees of success, but mostly frustration with all of them. Near the end of the course we were given a small square of Lino and told to go away for the weekend and to cut it as homework. I was a bit in the dark about how deep to cut the surface and how the end result would come out but the following week we printed our blocks and I have to say I was chuffed with my little print. It was of a street market scene and I still have it as a reminder of my first time with Lino.
"Carving the Lino can be therapeutic and I love listening to audible books while doing that. But I think the real buzz is the actual printing of the Lino."
What do you love most about the process?
That's a hard question to answer. There are so many parts to go through before the end when you finally peel the paper off the Lino block and see the finished print. I get very excited when I get an idea for a print and the initial designing and figuring out what I want the final piece to look like. Carving the Lino can be therapeutic and I love listening to audible books while doing that. But I think the real buzz is the actual printing of the Lino. Mixing the inks, rollering it onto the Lino and then using the press are part of the thrill as you are getting closer to the final and finished piece. The bit when lifting the paper to reveal the final print can be a bit fraught especially if it hasn't worked out as you hoped, but the high you get when it's successful is really amazing!
"The high you get when it's successful is really amazing!"
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your work?
Everything and anything with pattern can attract my attention. If I spot a fabric or textile or antique ceramic tiles and pottery can be a font of inspiration. Matisse is a hero of mine and if I'm suffering artist's block I look at the array of very talented illustrators, past and present, who also inspire me. The quirkier the better; I love the work of Edward Gorey and Ana Juan, they both combine the slightly macabre with a large dollop of humour, which I love!
What would be your best advice for those starting out to create linocut art?
Linocut is something you can easily do at home. Most art shops stock all the basic tools and they even have ready made linocutting packs that look really good. Pinterest is great for inspiration and there are plenty of YouTube tutorials with helpful advice. I'd say that linocutting is the easiest of the printmaking methods to do at home. And it's great for the more impatient personalities like me who need to see immediate results with not too much bother!
"Matisse is a hero of mine and if I'm suffering artist's block I look at the array of very talented illustrators, past and present, who also inspire me."
What's next for you, any new projects you're working on?
At the moment I am in the midst of getting ready for a group exhibition which I'm organising together with some local printmakers, this is always an exciting part of creating too. I also have some experimental linocutting ideas brewing, which I'm hoping to start on in the next few months, which is also exciting...if it works out that is!
We would love to thank Alison for this wonderful interview, we're so inspired to do some more linocutting now... We hope you love her work as much as we do! You can have a better look at her work and find out more about future exhibitions here. Also, have a look at her Etsy store to get your own handmade original work by Alison. And, like us, Alison is an avid 'pinterest-er' so check out her pinterest boards here!