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Meet the Maker - Nicole Purdie

It's time to unwind, grab a cuppa and get to know this month's marvellous maker! This time, we're delving into the creative life of the super-talented linoprinter Nicole Purdie, a.k.a Prints by the Bay.

Nicole's charming creations are inspired by folklore, storytelling, womanhood and the sea - she's based over in beautiful Bridport in Dorset so we can see how that influences her prints!

It was a delight to hear about this and more...

How did you first get into lino-printing?

I had experimented with lino-printing a couple of times in the past during printmaking modules at school, college and then university. Funnily enough I never really enjoyed it those times! It was the combination of blunt, cheap tools and old dry lino that made the process frustrating and the results underwhelming.

It wasn’t until 2019 when I had started up illustrating again properly, that I stumbled across a couple of very inspiring accounts on instagram using the linocut technique in a wonderfully graphic, clean and illustrative way that I didn’t realise before then was achievable in the medium. They made me realise how suitable my style of drawing and design was to the technique and made me itch to try it again and increase my knowledge and skills. My favourite linocut/woodcut artists include India Rose Bird, Izzy Williamson, Mat Pringle, Emily Howard and Kathleen Nealy.

Can you tell us how your first project went?

My first time trying my style on lino was disappointing! I quickly realised this was due in part to the tools, and so I invested in some quality carving tools made by Pfeil, some proper printing ink and a decent roller. This, plus practice, and slowly adding to my studio and equipment has made the process so enjoyable with decent results, which get better as my skills grow.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I’ve always enjoyed drawing a recurring female protagonist- this character features in most of my work, be it a linocut, mural, window design or a pen and ink illustration.

The content of my designs differs, but usually I am inspired by femininity, womanhood, the female condition- interspersed with storytelling, folklore or history and natural imagery and elements- trees, florals, the sea. Mainly my work can be quite surreal/abstract in its composition – I don’t create many ‘scene’ based pieces. I like to play around with unusual composition and visual elements.

My art background is in Illustration, rather than fine art, so that’s more the direction my work takes, and I find most of the other artists I follow and am inspired by are working as illustrators- digital and analogue.

What do you love most about the process?

I really love the whole thing- the process from start to finish, I like how there are different sections to it- the drawing and design, prepping the lino, the carving stage- and then the printing.

Nothing can beat that first inking and reveal peel!

What would be your best advice for those starting out?

Not to be put off by their first few experiences of carving and printing. With practice, you will start to see the good results you want.

Invest in one or two good quality tools if you are serious about the medium.

Don’t be scared to make mistakes- it’s all part of the process!

What’s next for you, any upcoming projects you’re working on?

I’ve got a few things I’m working on – as well as an ongoing list of personal work and new prints, I also have a couple of private commissions for local businesses which I love to do- it’s great collaborating with others.

I plan to start up some workshops in the Autumn and Winter. These were due to happen last year but were pushed back many a time due to Covid- I’m really looking forward to connecting with people and passing on knowledge.

I have an exciting collaboration and exhibition planned with the lovely Jenny from Wandering Coast collective tentatively pencilled in for some time next year. We both live in Bridport and are inspired by tales of the sea, so it will be a really exciting project- watch this space!

Thanks so much to Nicole for sharing her linoprinting journey with us - it was a real treat! We love keeping up with Nicole's work on Instagram and over on her website too - we're super excited to see this coastal collaboration!

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