I’m pleased to introduce everyone to printmaker Lily Livingston from Winchester, UK! You can find Lily’s work in her Etsy shop, make sure to stop by and show her some love!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? How did you get into printmaking?
I studied illustration as a degree at uni, and halfway into my first year I found myself pushed into the print room to try and experiment with new techniques. Linocut seemed to be a simple, entry-level starter point. My first linocuts were truly awful!! But I quickly realized that lino didn’t have to be simple, I could do my usual illustration style, and somehow carving became truly therapeutic for me as I became immersed in the small details of fur. I spent the last two years of my degree happily ensconced in the print room, making large-scale linocuts and printing them on the Albion press.
Since then I’ve become a qualified gardener, and I do all my carving and printing from home at my little desk. I still do only lino, usually black and white, as that’s where my real passion is – and of course always depicting some sort of wildlife.
Where do you draw your inspiration from, and how do you decide on the compositions of your prints?
All the inspiration for my prints comes from nature and animals. I had a very outdoorsy childhood and spent lots of time in the woodland behind our house – I love animal folklore stories, and learning about the mythical tales, especially those from my homeland as I feel really connected to the landscape and wildlife here. I also love plants, and as I’m studying horticulture I feel this blends really well with my art – I enjoy illustrating the flora and fauna and mixing them together.
Composition wise I do a few thumbnail sketches, search for a few reference photos of whatever I’m drawing, and once I think a thumbnail works in terms of composition I’ll do a larger rough sketch. As soon as I feel like I’ve got something good I’ll sketch onto the lino, as I’ve found often I have the perfect sketch on paper, but can’t translate it to lino! I love sketching on the lino and it feels very organic this way. Then I can sort out any composition problems easily, and be ready to carve. I think I can instinctively feel when the balance is off – a lot of erasing goes on until it clicks!
Do you have any fun projects in the works or in the back of your mind for the new year?
I’m currently working on another sleeping animal – so far I’ve done husky, fawn, fox and hare – so that’s kind of a continuous theme. I’m also working on a little project of native UK ponies, I’d like to raise some awareness for these beautiful horses. A friend has also asked me to illustrate a very large moose to hang on his wall, I haven’t started work on that yet, but it should be a fun project, and different to my usual stuff!
How has selling on Etsy been going since you started your shop?
It’s been going well! I opened up my shop years ago back in uni, and didn’t really start to pay attention to it until around a year ago – I was travelling for a year so had quite a long break from printmaking before then. 2018 was a great Etsy year for me, my best yet, and it’s so gratifying and amazing to think that people want to own my work. Fingers crossed this year will be just as good!
What are some of your favorite printmaking art products to use (paper/ink/tools etc)?
I have a very basic roller, but plan to invest in a professional one this year. Saying that, it does the job! I love my Jackson’s water-based inks, and couldn’t be without my Powergrip tools! I own two Pfeils which I have been very impressed with, and hope to invest in a few more this year. I swear by the traditional, hessian-backed lino – it’s very firm so allows for all those intricate details. I really like Khadi and Somerset paper, Khadi is a great cotton rag which is very tactile.