Making a recent revival among creatives, lino block printing is known as one of the oldest art techniques and has been gaining a strong following in the social world. Talented artist and printmaker, Rachael Hibbs, invited us into her work space come studio, to demonstrate just how therapeutic and rewarding the age old art form can be.
How’d you find this sweet old art studio? It’s a huge space and is also a school?
Yes, it’s a further education college. I work here as a printmaking and photography facilitator, where I basically run the workshops for students aged 16 and over. We do all kinds of printmaking; including relief, screen printing, letterpress and mono printing.
What a fun job! What type of printing do you specialise in for your own work?
I specialise in relief printing, specifically I use linoleum or more commonly known as lino printing.
What is the process for creating a lino print?
Traditionally, you start by drawing your design on to the block of lino, then carve it out with special tools similar to a chisel. Once you’ve chosen the colour, you ink up the block with rollers and we use the printing presses here in the studio to make the print.
Wow, sounds like a lot of work for one print! How long does it usually take?
It really depends on the size of the print and also level of detail in the design. From start to finish it would normally take me about a week to actually make a block itself, but after that the printing part it is really fast. I can end up knocking out quite a few prints in one day!
What got you into lino printing?
I started it probably three or four years ago. It wasn’t actually my first specialisation after University. Funnily enough, I got into it because it was quite easy to transport around, as opposed to sculpture, which as much as I loved, turned out to be quite logistically challenging. After initially experimenting with some lino printing, I started to find it quite therapeutic and meditative. I also love the fact that it’s an old technique that doesn’t really get used nearly as much as it should.
Why do you think that?
Digital printing is so quick and easy, but the nice thing about lino printing is that you know they are one-off originals, with their own slight imperfections. I think there is something really special about owning a print that you’ve bought from somebody, knowing it’s been made from scratch.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
A lot of them are based on nature. I am a regular at the Natural History Museum in London. My latest design with the snake in the jar was inspired by a collection of specimen jars, that sit fairly hidden behind bookshelves in a section of the museum. It’s my favourite part of the museum. One of my most popular prints is the two foxes and that’s inspired by these little fox cubs that we would see in our back garden every morning.
Sounds very cute! How can people purchase your prints?
You can purchase my prints on my Etsy store, RLH Prints. I also sometimes do private commissions if people want a specific block design.
Do you teach any workshops?
Yes! I will be running a workshop this Saturday at Old Spitalfields Market, where you will get to have a go at printing one of my exclusive designs. (Workshop details below.)
Oh, I can’t wait! What's next for RLH Prints?
I am hoping to expand into doing advertising of some kind or collaborations with other brands, but without loosing the authenticity of the printing. I would love to make a repeat pattern design and print it on fabric! Through running more workshops, I am hoping to share how rewarding the art of lino printing really is.
Join Rachael this Saturday the 9th of March from 11am – 3pm at our Old Spitalfields Market store, where you’ll be able to print your own RLH exclusive lino print design for only £8 per print. No need to book, just stop by!
Rachael wears the Jane in Whiskey Champagne & Grey Cloud, both back in stock in May.