So where did all this printing knowledge and experience come from? How did I know what I was looking for at the auction when sourcing a printing press?
I studied extended printing for A level. I had to submit a portfolio of different printing techniques using various printing equipment and inks or paints while at college. This included intaglio, mono printing, lino cutting, card prints, etching in copper and prints taken from scratching into plastic. We made rubber stamps and wood blocks. The smell of the oil paints and getting my hands dirty with black ink didn’t bother me.
After college, I was accepted onto a course to study art further. I had to submit some pre-course materials set to a brief in order to demonstrate my drawing skills. One of these tasks was an abstract self-portrait.
I moved on from this to work for a company, which involved a bus ride to work or my dad dropping me off on route to his firm. Occasionally, he would forget to pick me up on the way home and I would be frantically waving at him as he drove past!
The company sent me on a course in London and I studied printing science and made electrostatic plates for the lithographic printing presses. I was only 18 and going to London back then was one big adventure.
On return from London, I was promoted to work on a Rotaprint machine which prints up to A3. This was in contrast to the first press I was trained on: a. 1250 multilithographic press which could manage A4 or smaller. I was glad of the change, despite earning the nickname Queen of the Tyvek. For those who aren’t familiar with Tyvek – it is a waterproof paper which is notoriously difficult to print on because it slides. The paper is made up of cotton woven into it so it doesn’t tear. I mastered this quite successfully, hence the nickname. However, while I was learning this my boss draw a cartoon of me (I also liked wearing baggy trousers back then and desert boots). It was great having an artistic boss, but at 18 I wasn’t quite sure how to take the cartoon. I’m glad I kept it because it still makes me laugh now.