I am a senior lecturer in Visual Communication and course leader in Illustration at Staffordshire University, dividing my time between teaching, parenting, illustrating and printmaking. In recent years, as an educator, I have been preoccupied with re-establishing an experimental print workshop and embedding its instruction into the course curriculum.
Illuminated manuscripts and decorative display types caught my attention at an early age and were no doubt the driving force behind my interest in studying visual communication. My passion for printmaking developed while at art college but I didn’t discover letterpress until much later when I was fortunate enough to acquire a Farley proofing press and some wooden type from a friend of the family, and so discovered the craft and beauty that comes from hand set movable type.
The reinvention of letterpress has since opened up new creative possibilities through the production of illustration-based prints from photopolymer plates, allowing me to combine all of my interests in one process. Starting with the hand-drawn on paper, I fine-tune my images on a Macintosh. The print plates are then created from a digital file and individually hand-printed onto cotton paper using a vintage press.
Inspired by early nineteenth century wood type and engravings (in particular those of Louis John Pouchee) I seek to create illustrated typography featuring a variety of ornamental motifs, using playful combinations of type and image to communicate a simple phrase or narrative. Ampersands have always appealed to me both in their curvy visual forms and in their ability to convey a distinct meaning within a single character. Much of what we do as visual communicators is to combine visual elements and meanings into distinct and economical forms. Ampersands, as an evolved combination of the letters et, for me, sum this up beautifully and so form the basis of my designs.