Welcome to our first Squeegee Club blogpost! A few years ago we started using #SqueegeeClub on our Instagram posts and then when we got a bit braver we asked that other screen printers use it too - now there's over 4000 posts on the tag from screen printers all over the World! The dream would be to one day create a beautiful Squeegee Club book of amazing diverse printers but for now we're starting with an ongoing series of interviews here on our blog. We're very VERY excited that the wonderful Fiona Wilson has agreed to be our first guest!! We hope you enjoy the post and if you're not already following Fiona be sure to check her links out at the bottom. YAY!
Hi Fiona! Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got in to screen printing?
I had a bit of a moment in my 30s where I left a job that was making me unhappy and went back to college to study art. My degree was in Surface Design and Textiles and thats where the screen printing began. I loved being in the print room at university - it was huge and we had super long print tables that meant I could really experiment with the process.
Where do you do your screen printing and what would a usual day look like for you?
I do my screen printing in my studio which is in an old building that used to be a Ginger Beer Factory - It's next to my house, so I can wander across the yard and up the stairs and into my space. I feel very lucky to have this space so close. A typical day in the studio usually begins with me switching on my music and the computer - I usually get screen printing straight away - so that I can do a layer of colour and leave it to dry whilst I check my emails and do a bit of admin, and then I can go back and get the next layer of colour on. I might spend a bit of time developing some new ideas for products and designs, or I’ll be making up and packing orders and getting them in the post box. No two days are the same, though I do tend to stick to a working day when its a studio day so I’ll be up and in the studio by 8am and finish about 6. Studio days are Friday, Saturday and Sundays as I work teaching in university Monday - Thursday. So I do tend to do some work in the evenings too when I need to. I don’t work every day though - I do have some days off, but I love being in my studio so it can be hard to leave it.
You have a very distinct bright and bold style, is it something you’ve always had or has it developed over time?
I’ve always liked colour, but I used to do a lot of textile work initially working with print and embroidery, but I have moved much more to working on paper and wood over the last 8 years. I do like a face and a character and I have been drawing people in some shape or form since I went back to art college and pattern has always been in my work too.
We love the characters that you create in your work, do you base them on real people (and animals)?
I’m so glad you like them - they do seem to make people smile, which is one of the reasons I like making my work. A lot of the characters do resemble some of my family members, but they actually began from working within simple shapes, so circles, squares, semi circles. A few years ago I embarked on a years long project doing a print or collage a day - I had so may patterned and coloured papers that I started cutting and assembling pieces playing with placing papers and funny characters started to emerge. I have a lot of work from this project and I use these now as a starting point for new pieces.
As well as paper you often screen print on to wood, can you tell us a bit about these pieces and the process of bringing them to life?
Growing up I had a lot of wooden toys and still collect a few now - and these have inspired my more three dimensional and wooden pieces. I had a wooden block jigsaw when I was young with paperer pictures on all the sides that you swapped around to make different pictures - and its this that started my Mix and Match people. I have a wood working area in the studio with a bandsaw, drill and sander, so I can cut and play with the shapes and work I suppose a bit like I do with paper collage, sometimes an off cut from one piece of wood can spark an idea for something new. I like the idea of having playful ornaments and things that are lovely to pick up and swap around.
Who are your biggest design inspirations?
Ooo so many but I do love a lot of the Marimekko designers for their block colours and playful patterns. I also love the screen prints of Sister Corita Kent and her art department rules are something that I think everyone should read.
What is the best thing about running a creative business for you?
I love making and the fact that people seem to like and want to buy what I make is fantastic. I love meeting people whether its at art fairs or through social media or the workshops I run, its a great community to be part of.
And the worst?
Never enough hours in the day to do all the things I would like to do.
What’s your ultimate dream for your business?
To be able to keep doing it, I cannot imagine ever stopping - I’ll be screen printing when I am on old lady.
What would be your best piece of advice for someone wanting to start screen printing?
I would definitely recommend going on a workshop to learn the basics - although it can look easy it does take some practice and some kit, so its best to try it out and see if you really love it before you invest in equipment.
If you could only print in one colour for the rest of your life what would it be?!
Oh this is such a mean question :D - I’m not sure I can answer that - can I have two colours? Probably Neon pink and black or maybe neon orange and black - no I can't decide its too hard. I love colour - I can't imagine only being allowed to use one!
Lastly, do you have a favourite squeegee? :o)
I do have a little squeegee that I cut off the end of a bigger one that is super handy for printing my smaller pieces. Plus it fits very nicely in my apron pocket.