DIY: Tina Hagger in her basement home studio. “The process relies on me and my hand-controlled press, and that’s it, nobody and nothing else. The idea that I have seized the means of production really gets me going!”
Read Time: 5-7 minutes
“Practice makes Printmaker”
I’m a Linocut Printmaker based in Faversham in Kent. I’ve been linoprinting in earnest for 7 years. I started after being bought a workshop session as a gift by my partner. I had no previous experience, but instantly fell in love with the method and process, and it quickly became my ‘thing’, taking over most of my thoughts and much of my life.
My passion for linoprinting is largely based on the thrill of the DIY nature of this kind of printmaking. The fact that an idea can pop into my head and I can set it down in a drawing and then from that carve a linocut, and from that print multiples of that design is thrilling to me. The process relies on me and my hand-controlled press, and that’s it, nobody and nothing else. The idea that I have seized the means of production really gets me going! I love the DIY look of linoprints: the marks, the texture, the handmade nature. And then there’s the absolute magical joy of the first print pulled – the surprise element in seeing the finished print for the first time. That moment of wonder is never lost on me, and I sincerely hope it never will be.
I believe an artist’s style is a combination of life experiences, personality, limitations, and strengths, the capability of eyes, mind, hands, and equipment, playing out on the page. As such, if I have a ‘style’, it is probably only discernible to others. What I appreciate is the progression I have made in linoprinting. Over the years, the execution has become more refined, the cuts more precise, and the prints cleaner. It is satisfying to witness this, and it is testament to the saying ‘Practice makes Printmakers’.
I’m heavily influenced by the county of my birth, Kent, and its beautiful countryside. Many of my prints have a theme of the interplay between nature and place. British wildlife, as well as Kentish buildings, have made up a large part of my work, and recently I have begun to branch out to other places and most recently, to people. I have been making linoprint portraits of well known people who have a link to Kent i.e. Derek Jarman and Vita Sackville-West. I have also made portraits of people I admire: David Bowie and Joni Mitchell. My prints stem from a desire to see if I can realise the image in my head in linoprint form. I love the idea of making political art (I have a Politics degree) and have made a couple of political artworks lately, one of which is currently my best selling linoprint. In it, a woman in suffragette costume holds a protest sign stating ‘Same Shit Different Century’.
People are often surprised to learn I have a full-time job due to the amount of artworks I create. I jovially tell people that it is an obsession, but I’m not joking, it is an obsession, and it is highly addictive! I reach a ‘flow’ state when drawing or carving: my mind and hands are connected in their endeavour, and it is an unparalleled feeling. I truly feel that drawing and linocutting are essential to my wellbeing. Overcoming all of the issues to create the print is part of the process and definitely part of the addiction. Because of the calming nature of the drawing and carving, and the more stressful nature of the printing, I spend the evenings after work drawing and carving, and reserve the printing for the weekends, when I have more time.
My artistic influences are wide and varied. What I most admire in other artists/makers is an ability to move along their own trails, to make art and live on their own terms. Artists/ makers I really admire are Derek Jarman, Barbara Hepworth, Grayson Perry and Maggi Hambling. They were/are unequivocal about expressing themselves and making art. There are many linocut artists I admire and strive to be as good as. A historical influence is the master printmaker and illustrator Edward Bawden. A current linocut artist I admire is Nick Morley a.k.a Linocut Boy. Nick taught me to linocut, and he basically created this monster! I have kept in touch with Nick since he taught me and I now attend a monthly Print Social at Resort Studios in Margate, which is run with his studio buddy, Mat Pringle, another amazing linoprint artist. It is a real boost to be able to meet up with other linoprint geeks and talk about all things print and have access to the resources at Resort Studios, including the huge Etching Press.
Linoprint has changed my life and my self so much. In some ways I feel that I have already achieved more than I ever imagined I could. I started out just making art for absolute fun, playing, making a few cards for friends/family and making an annual christmas card. One day, somebody asked if they could buy one of my linoprint cards. I set up an Etsy shop just so I could sell this single card to this kind soul! I have now sold linoprints to people from all around the world. A few years ago Kent Wildlife Trust contacted me via Etsy to ask if I would teach a linocut workshop at their HQ. It went very well, and I have delivered workshops to hundreds of people in collaboration with organisations such as Medway and Swale Estuary Partnership, The Beaney Museum in Canterbury, Wildwood Trust, and Animate Arts Company. I love teaching linoprint; seeing the joy and wonder that it brings me sparked in the eyes of others is just pure magic. My aims for the future are just more, more, more, More of everything linoprint related.
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Text: Tina Hagger ed. Hope Fitzgerald Images: Tina Hagger & Hope Fitzgerald