Wednesday 13 November 2013

Meet the printmaker: John Joseph Lynch

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work…What sort of prints do you make? 
Hi, I’m John Joseph Lynch, I’ve made a variety of types of prints since I began print making.

I mainly concentrate on fine art and experimental printmaking and have an MA with distinction in Multidisciplinary Printmaking. For my final show I took the Multidisciplinary aspect quite literally when I made a body of hybrid prints that re-synthised classic Iconography in relation to consumer philosophies. I made hybrid luxurious pieces of print work combining linocut, digital, and flock velvet print along side screen printed enamels. I screen printed acid resists then deep etched copper plates and finished this with a cloisonné approach to create printed relics made of copper and coloured glass, I used etchings onto plaster casts and continued to combine methods and print approaches.

The MA was a explosion of experimental adventures, combining a range of print processes over the three year duration of the course, in which I was also awarded a two week residency in the states studying the art of fine paper making. I have always enjoyed an experimental approach to my work and have often pushed in the other direction from ‘the norm’.
False Paradise, Ed 5, Lino Cut, Digital and Flock
After the MA I won the 'Neo Print Prize' for 'New Media In Print' and went on to be awarded the 'Peter Reddick Bursary' for 'Contemporary Relief Print' which allowed me to spend a year developing a relief print practice. It was a great time to make mistakes and develop from them.

This has recently ended and I would now say I have developed a unique and complex style of woodcut printing to take forwards and create new work, in which I use the photographic or digitally produced image in a hand-made fashion, combining traditional and contemporary methods for making art.

I really enjoy working with wood and the challenges this presents. It’s like paper: always changing. Sometimes it’s a real pleasure to work with, and other times it is a pest.

Key Block for Royal Mail.
My work is often conceptual as I have a contemporary fine art background, practice and interest.  I really enjoy the methods and possibilities within this context to explore, combine and create new types of imagery. Along with this, I love the science and elemental factors involved in fine print and the types of inks and papers that always give new results.  Sometimes it’s a feeling like painting where the elements are working with you, which is a lovely mood to be in.  

I’ve been printmaking for 16 years now and teach screen-printing and relief printing along with the odd visiting lecture, and really enjoy sharing my print knowledge with other printmakers and artists. This exchange of knowledge is really important for any creative development. 

This is why I’ve really enjoyed being part of the organising team for The Print Shop, and meeting so many great printmakers, helping to raise the profile and public understanding of print and also getting in touch with some true masters in the field, like Yuji Hiratsuka

Are you solely a printmaker or do you work in any other creative fields?
My first degree was fine art Painting and printmaking. Back then I used to really enjoy painting but it wasn’t long until the lure of printmaking grabbed me and I ended up producing a final show which was heavily print centralised. I even remember using oil based inks with screen printing to make dramatic abstract works in my teens. So, I’ve always been very attracted to Printmaking.

All the while I’ve always been really into making music and performance. After university some good pals and I soon got ourselves into a pretty outrageous band called Pink Grease. We got signed to Mute Records and toured the world, making our mark in the underground scenes and playing hundreds of shows. I love live music performance as it’s so immediately expressive and fun. I’ve put together a few music formations whilst in Bristol and had some fun gigs. I’m currently having a bit of time out of the live scene to work on new ideas, but I would say I prioritise printmaking as my main creative process these days. 

Mostly all of my work and practice is focused on driving forward my printmaking these days and recently that’s also included driving forward the profile of printmaking with projects such as The Print shop and connecting Bristol printmakers to friends at the Hong Kong Open Print Shop.

Printmaking is a language of imagery and production that suits my needs the most, I love it’s immediate historic reference and the connotations it has to so many aspects of art and modern culture. We’re surrounded by print and I’m a big believer of art being rooted in the real and reflecting society, so for me print is perfect.

Some Proofs made during the work of Royal Mail: V1
I teach printmaking and this is also a creative process to me, as I’m always surprised what people - with little or no experience in these processes - can come up with. The results of loads of mistakes and happy accidents can teach you things you’d never expect.  I think teaching and the learning of new skills is a really important aspect of all creativity. Sharing your practice is essential to it’s development and also another creative part of it. 

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

Foot Prints in the mud: making a mark of your own presence and place.

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

I am usually inspired by the things that go on around us in the world, often by media and the news. I like my art to have a reflection to how I perceive the world or a given theme within it.  For example, my Criminal Prints showing a hybrid president of the united States, a mix of four presidents to create a fictional yet familiar figure head. This was also inspired by fiction such as '1984' or 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'. I love a good story for new ideas, which is why I often slightly dramatized or over fictionalise, real places or events.

Wesley, Ed2 in variations, woodcut. 
My newest print, which I have, at times been working on in the shop and is now on display in The Print Shop and the Old Fire Station in Oxford, is Royal Mail: V1.

This print was inspired by a number of things, firstly it has reference to a copy of a 1950’s post card of East Berlin I found. At that time, the vision of a utopian new lifestyle was offered and the postcard showed these amazing new flats in Technicolour. I loved the double sided edge to this image and the forced enthusiasm of the colours.

In my new print the image is an adjusted version of the old post office centre by Temple Meads, which to me stands, in its way, as an iconic monument, yet in may ways it is useless, unsellable, impossible to develop. It is places like this that always remind me of Satre’s Nausea, where he writes about the consistent forces of nature always ready to reclaim and take over wherever it can, purely acting on existence.

To me there is a poetic beauty in this type of place and a reflection of human conditions, the kind of place that can trigger hundreds of daydreams, yet in itself is the shell of it’s former purpose - like an empty crab.
Royal Mail: V1, Woodcut
Could you give us an insight into where you work – your studio/workspace and where you print?
I work in three places mostly: Firstly, at Spike Print Studio, as since being awarded the bursary there I’ve really been able to push my work and develop woodcut printmaking. It’s a truly great studio and I recommend it to anyone interested in print. The staff are all great and there is a real public approach to making work, with amazing print work happening mostly every day it’s a great place and we also do really good courses.

Secondly, I have a shared studio space at the Island Art Space where I have acquired a great screen printing set up and we also make a bit of music here. My friend Danny Le Guilcher is a great portrait painter and he paints here too. All the team running the art space are really clued up to getting the old building off the ground and I run workshops in the space too. There are always new shows, exhibitions and events happening there, so it is a great place to work, plus it’s right in the city centre.

Thirdly I must say there is nothing like a bit of sunny woodcutting in the cratch back home on the boat.

Which other printmakers' work do you admire?
Being heavily involved with the starting and keeping of The Print Shop since the outset has meant that I’ve met some really great printmakers in Bristol, who make some really amazing work. I’m so happy the shop has really brought together a range of approaches and talents in the art, raising the bar for printmaking in Bristol. It was also really great to get one of my favourite known printmakers involved for volume one. Yuji Hiratsuka’s work is truly beautiful and it was great having a Skype interview with him in the shop. 

There are so many printmakers I really admire the work of. I really like the prints by Katsutoshi Yuasa, Christiana Baumgartner, Chuck Close, Carol Summers, Thomas Kilpper and naturally I love the work of Andy Warhol and the pop art printmakers like Rauschenburg. The list goes on and I’m always finding new artists I really like. Artists have always used printmaking as a strong point for visual communication in the arts. I also really love the traditional Japanese Woodblock by artists like Hokusai, Kuniyoshi and Hiroshige and wish I could be this good.

Skeleton, Kuniyoshi, Woodcut. 
Local artists like Ian Chamberlain, Emma Stibbon, Martin grimmer, are all amazing at what they do and artists we’ve had in the shop like Hannah McVicar, Gillian Thompson,  Holly Drewett, and Coo Geller all make really interesting work with print and push it in different directions.

Our last guest also works like this. Peter Williams’s monumental woodblocks are a real homage to traditional print. He’ll be in the print shop talking about his work on the 21st.

Maybe it’s clear by the above list that I like artists who push common associations to an art and create new and exiting approaches.

Can you share a little printing trick or secret with us?
I share loads of printing magic on my courses and in the studio. Learning from others is always a good one. Most importantly, enjoy what you are doing and always stay calm when printing, although sometimes this isn’t the easiest.

I’m always booking new workshops for artists in my studio and other print studios so if you want to learn more you can get in touch with me through my website,

How would you like to develop your printmaking skills in the future?

It’s a constant development for me, so I hope this continues. I always like to move out of the safety zone and see what’s new to learn so I always look forwards to the next piece of work, I hope this doesn’t change.

Which printed publication do you most look forward to thumbing through?
Printmaking Today, and exhibition catalogues.

Thank you for taking the time out to answer our questions John. It's inspiring to have not only your input and direction with the running of the shop, but also your incredible multidisciplinary approach to print-making.

John has a range of brand new work currently for sale in the shop, which is open from now until Christmas. Come and purchase his prints, while stocks last. A great personal treat or the ideal gift for a friend.

The Print Shop 
Unit 6 
Quakers Friars 
Cabot Circus 
BS1 3BU 

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

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