Part II – The Journey Through Printmaking: A World United by Printmaking? Maybe.
Printmaking techniques and styles vary immensely; and equally, it is a vast universe of printmaking artists’ styles. Whilst the routes and trajectories printmakers take may be diverse, the destination remains similar: the quest for expression, of mastery, and of transformation.
While the academic world offers invaluable insights and structured learning – the informal path, woven with hands-on experience, self-exploration, and genuine passion, possesses its own undeniable merits.
My personal view here is that art is both birthed and flamed by individual passion, unique experiences, and the unquenchable desire to express. My personal printmaking journey is not built on formal education (I obtained ‘A’ in Art and Art History GCSEs ), but instead, it unfolded through hands-on engagements, tip-toeing through discoveries and driven by the innate curiousity of how-do-I…. In short, this printmaking journey was not shaped in the halls of renowned institutions, rather it cautiously bloomed under the ascending workplace burnout, and enflamed by the pandemic lockdowns.
While I am continuously toying with the idea of pursuing MA in Printmaking, there is a goodly amount of satisfaction in the foundation of my journey, constructed through personal adventures. This perspective is not intended to diminish the significance of formal education; After all, my academic trajectory in other fields culminated with an MSc, a professional qualification, and a whole career. However, art, in its varied manifestations, often communicates in a nuanced language that can elude structured pedagogy.
What some might discern as an absence in my formal artistic education, I regard as a secret superpower. This divergence encourages a perspective unhindered by tradition, and an ability to see further than standard perimeters (perhaps by not acknowledging said perimeters). It’s not merely a ‘gap’ – rather an integral chapter of my story, a source of empowerment, and a testament to my individuality.
Printmaking, like any art, is a deeply personal journey, one that should be free from judgments and elitism. Its true essence lies not in the accolades or formal training one has garnered, but in the passion, creativity, and resilience that artists, like myself, pour into their work.
At a time when our world is in flux, when resilience and adaptability are more critical than ever, it is crucial that we recognise the value in all forms of artistic expression. The tools we wield aren’t instruments of comparison, rather a means of creation. In the grand tapestry of this present life, it matters not the size of the thread but how we weave it. Our collective impact transcends the techniques we employ; it lies in the stories we tell, the emotions we express, and the change we inspire through our art.
Whilst, as in any other industry, competition is a fact of life in the arts & printmaking world – instead of allowing it to quash our creative spirit, let’s channel it to improve our artistry; To foster personal development, and uphold a sense of respect for each other. We each have unique gifts to contribute; let’s harness and amplify our shared artistic energy, and maintain the boundaries to refuse to let any adversities dim our fervour and resolve. Do we not, as artists, take on the mantel of light bearers of hope and inspiration for the population?
A call to the stewards of Fine Art Printmaking: It’s imperative to foster environments conducive to the growth of emerging talents. Refrain from premature or overly stringent critiques that might stifle nascent potential. My journey, while relatively insulated, serves as a reminder that not every aspirant has access to a nurturing environment. Printmaking studios, academic committees, and established artists should approach mentorship with a balanced, constructive perspective. By doing so, they bolster the chances of nurturing the future innovators of the discipline.
Now is the time to harness the power of printmaking, in all its glorious forms: to heal, inspire, and create a version of an improved world. Let’s ignite sparks of inspiration that awaken the resilience within each of us and foster a community that thrives on mutual support, growth, and the shared experience of creation. Perhaps let us not measure the worth of our techniques against each other but rather how we can use our unique skills and perspectives to contribute to the world we inhabit.
In the deeper dark of this odd, wonderful, and diverse world we live in, let us adjust that lamp we unknowingly held in our hands when we chose this path; Let us continue to strengthen ourselves to bear the light, up high.