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Printed By Alyn Contemporary Retro Illustration

April 6, 2020

PrintedbyAlyn is a name to watch out for in the world of Illustration. Printmaker and Illustrator Alyn Smith, is finishing an MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking at UWE, Bristol.

I love the fun, quirky smile-enducing nature to his work. It makes me think of such great illustrators as Alain Gree and more recently Ingela P Arrhenius and Christian Robinson.

There is a beautiful, simplistic and sixties naivety that I find both refreshing and captivating. I sent Alyn an email to find out more and he happily agreed to answer some questions for us.

When and where did your love of print originate from ?
I was introduced to print firstly on my foundation year at college and then later at university but my love of print really developed during my time as a member of print workshops whilst being a stay-at-home parent. I’ve always enjoyed making things with my hands and using paper and print seemed a great creative outlet for me at the same time as being at home with my children. Over the years I have gone from using only screen printing to now using a mixture of letterpress, photopolymer plates, lino and rubber stamping. The magic of the reveal is what draws me to print, you never know the exact result you will get and using more low-tech printing methods, no two prints are ever the same.

You can see how his process of creating, develops from his stamp-making and spongy cut-out shapes, to his assembled illustrations and sometimes digital end-use.

I saw that you studied at Liverpool, how helpful was your time there ?
Yes, I studied Graphic Arts at Liverpool John Moores University 2004-2007. Liverpool was such a great city to live and study in. Up until this point I didn’t really know what illustration was as I had specialised in a mix of fine art and graphics for my foundation year. I had some great tutors in Liverpool and I learnt a lot but I don’t think I was ready to embark on a career as an illustrator at that time. Fast forward 13 years and I am just about to complete a masters degree in multidisciplinary printmaking from the University of West England. Over the past 3 years my confidence has grown massively and I think I am a lot more comfortable in the work I am producing now.
Great to see Alyn’s original sketchbook ideas and how they develop into a final print.

Alyn aims to encourage people to share positive messages that are often forgotten in today’s technology driven society. What better way to do this than by sending a postcard by traditional post to someone you care about. Using Alyn’s own stamps, well you might have to put a real stamp on there too !

Who currently influences your work and whose work do you admire ?
At the moment I have been looking a lot at midcentury poster artists including Herve Morvan, Harry Stephens and Daphne Padden. For more contemporary references I really admire the work of Paul Thurlby, Stephanie Wunderlich and Blexbolex. Whilst at Liverpool I was lucky enough to be taught by printmaker Christopher Brown, who studied under Edward Bawden. What I admire most about Chris’ work is the humour in his work, especially in his animals. This is something I strive to create in my own work.
The V&A museum of childhood is one of my favourite places to get inspiration. I have spent hours there looking over all the brightly coloured toys and I am in particular drawn to Galt Toys and work produced by Fredun Shapur.

I assume like myself you are a fan of 50’s and 60’s design style, style and illustration. Do you recall where that influence came from ?
I have always been drawn to design, film and music that epitomises the idea of a more simple way of living and maybe a slightly romanticised ideal. I think the 50’s and 60’s really seem to tick a lot of those boxes for me. There seems to be a sense of fun and playfulness about the design and illustration of that time. For an A Level art project I bought a large reference book of 1950s advertising, probably from just browsing the art section in Waterstones. This is the first time that I remember really looking into midcentury references.

I also like your gentle (and not so gentle) advice cards. They remind me a little of the wartime ‘Don’t Forget to Post, Wrap Things Carefully, Keep Britain Tidy’.  Where did your ideas come from here and your colour palette generally ?
I am a big fan of the vintage London Underground and General Post Office posters that have the messages like, Catch the Midday Post or Label Your Parcels Correctly. This seems to represent the simpler time to me that I mentioned before, and there’s something quite comforting in a way about them. The colour palettes are beautiful too and have definitely influenced my work.
For me, printmaking is a form of escape, something I can do to relax and enjoy myself. From this, I have been looking at other ways in which people escape or relax and as a reminder to others I thought it would be fun to put some on the front of a card so people can send the message on. The top tip: Don’t be a Dick design came from a chat with a friend and this stuck in my mind for a while before I though about making into into a print. I like that it’s a bit humorous but also if everyone was a little nicer to each other the world would be a much better place. The same for be nice or be quiet. This idea came from getting annoyed by people on social media, twitter especially, who feel its their right to criticise other people !
I hear you Alyn and I’m sure the Fishink blog readers are currently nodding their heads in agreement too : )

Great to feel and see this positivity.

Spreading the message gets easier with these cards, don’t you think ?

Some posters and ideas have also been prompted by recent worldwide events.

Alyn has very kindly allowed people to acess their own printable version of this poster by clicking here.

I love your animal and weather symbols in particular. Do you have any more plans for more beautiful products for your Etsy shop…clocks, cards, prints, etc ?
Thank you! I currently have some small isograph prints that I will be adding to my etsy shop and I am hoping to get the shape circus book produced in a small edition for sale. I really enjoy making card designs and have plans to expand the range I have already with some birthday designs. My etsy shop is a way for me to sell designs that I’d like to be commissioned to produce for other people, so I don’t want to turn my etsy shop into a massive enterprise or anything, just a few products I enjoy making.
I have been asked if I would be willing to sell any of ny stamp sets, at the moment they are my everyday tools and are not really viable as products but I am looking at a simple basic stamp set that people could use to have a go themselves.
Yes please, put me down for a set too.
I can imagine kids and adults having lots of fun with these.
Great designs.

Where do you see your work in 5 years time ? I’d love to see it taken into books, gift wrap etc.
Upon completion of my masters degree this summer I going to be looking at getting as much work as I can in children’s book and magazine publishing, It’s an area if have resisted pursuing in the past as I feel there is a lot of competition but now I feel that my work is strong and would suit this area. I would also like to look into self-publishing some of my own small books and I am particularly interested in producing work for pre-school and early school aged children as there is still an element of play and fun at that age.
Over the past 18 months I have been teaching printmaking to secondary school students and this is something I really enjoy and would like to continue further.

I love these animal prints made from simplistic shapes. Charley Harper eat your heart out !!

Such a fab Clock.

What do you like about the print process that is different to other processes or working digitally ?
Although I use a lot of low-tech printing methods, a lot of my work begins digitally. I use adobe illustrator vector files that are then laser cut into rubber and foam stamps. Once the laser cut shapes are stamped out I then scan them into photoshop to arrange and colour them. For me, this still gives me the play element of print but with the flexibility and convenience of digital. That said, I would like to do more original printed and stamped pieces that don’t rely on digital processes as much.
Alyn, thanks so much for sharing your work and thoughts with us today. The best of luck for the future and I for one will be revisiting your Etsy Shop in a few months to see all the new pieces for sale.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Anderson permalink
    April 6, 2020 9:33 am

    Great article Craig, and great work Alyn! Love all of it!

    • April 6, 2020 10:37 am

      Thank you Sarah, as soon as I saw Alyn’s work It lifted my spirits and I knew it would be the perfect Monday morning post. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Kim permalink
    April 8, 2020 12:38 pm

    Absolutely love this type of illustration. It reminds me of Uncle Wiggly or something from childhood. So much fun!

    • April 8, 2020 1:31 pm

      Thanks Kim, Uncle Wiggly… isn’t one I’ve heard of. Glad you enjoyed the post

  3. April 8, 2020 1:11 pm

    Absolutely great interview on this illustrator. I love Alyn’s printmaking illustrations. Very fun.

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