Wednesday 30 October 2013

Meet the printmaker: Abi Ponton (Pigeon Illustration)

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work? What sort of prints do you make?
I am lucky enough to be a member of Drawn in Bristol and make use of their screen-printing studio in Hamilton House.  I love drawing and generally make bright and colourful prints of the charismatic creatures I draw.  I like the freedom drawing gives me as a starting point and love the challenge of having to restrain this is a number of ways for screen-printing.  The more I print, the more I learn about the medium and what a range of things you can do with it.  I’ve learned to think in print and get excited about experimenting with the medium in different ways.

When I’m not drawing or printing, I’m always looking forward to my next drawing trip, which generally involves hiding myself away in dark corners of museums and discovering exciting artifacts that kickstart creative ideas.  I’ll draw anything that catches my imagination at the time, whether it’s because of its form, texture, colour or historical/narrative content.

Are you solely a printmaker, or do you work in any other creative fields?

I love working in a range of media. I experiment with different techniques depending on what I think best fits the idea I have in my head, which could be drawing, print, collage, textiles, sculpture, an impromptu tap dancing performance or the occasional painting.

What is your earliest recollection of making a print and what made you to want to do more? 

Apart from potato printing in Primary school, my early memories of printing are from college and university, and looking at my mum’s borrowed library books of Edward Bawden’s beautiful prints.

I have always loved hand-printed work, but it took me a while to get into printing as a technique because there is so much that can go wrong and it is so time consuming.  I wanted to make everything quickly in a fit of inspiration, but two of my tutors at university were avid printmakers and showed me the beautiful, earthy and soulful art that they made and I loved it. 

I was soon drawn to the mysterious Victorian machinery and the smells of the inks and equipment of the campus print room.  I began to love the flow of the processes, the unpredictability of the outcome and admire the happy accidents.

What inspires you?  Are there any themes or ideas that often run through your work?

Animals and pattern are an obvious theme to my work, but I also think a lot about character and colour when making my work.  I like the details that can bring the charm and character out of a living creature or an inanimate object, such as the damage on an ancient artefact, the asymmetry of a cactus, or the wonky eye of a badly stuffed hare!

Could you give us an insight into where you work;your studio/workspace and where you print?

I really enjoy drawing from real life, so I go on a lot of drawing trips to galleries, museums, parks, cafes and anywhere I can get out of the house and wander around, gathering sketches, information and ideas.  I develop these drawings by experimenting in different materials at my desk at home, before planning the layers of colour, if they are destined for the print room.

Which other printmakers' work do you admire?

Locally, I love the work of Jane Ormes, Simon Tozer and Charlotte Farmer, because their work is full of colour and character.  I've also come across John Kilburn's work in this volume of The Print Shop, which I love for the same reasons.

Printmaking is made up of lots of different processes.  Which aspect of printmaking do you enjoy the most?

I like planning the layers and mixing printing inks; it gets me excited to envisage how the print is going to turn out.  Colour is very important to me and I don’t start to print until I have a vivid image in my head of the exact tones I want to use.

Do you have a favourite tool or something you find invaluable when printing?

Patience and strength of mind.  Printing is a physically and mentally demanding process!

Can you share a little printing trick or secret with us?

Save some cake or a snack for when you’re almost finished to see you through the final processes of cleaning, tidying and packing up.

How would you like to develop your printmaking skills in the future?
I'd like to experiment more with texture and over-lapping colours...and also learn how to be tidy and organised!

Which printed publication do you most look forward to thumbing through?
I like buying Vogue and Home Magazines to read and dream about that perfect life, before cutting them up for collaging!  Zines are a little obsession of mine too.  I don’t buy a specific one regularly, I just like to pick up the lesser-known names that have caught my attention, for whatever reason.

And finally, monochrome or multi-coloured?
Multi-coloured for sure!

Thank you, Abi!  It's great to know more about your love of colour and your love and enthusiasm for printing.

Abi Ponton (Pigeon Illustration) will be at The Print Shop for the rest of Volume 3.  Come and snap up one of her vibrant prints, while stocks last!

The Print Shop
Unit 6
Quakers Friars
Cabot Circus

Open Daily
Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm
Sun 11am - 5pm

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