New ways of seeing: A pop-up shop is offering the witty prints of graphic artists
The pop-up shop is part of London Design Week. Holly Williams marvels at the artist's methods
Look sharp! As part of the London Design Festival, the graphic-art outfit Outline Editions will be popping up with a special sale of crisp and cool graphic prints at Design Junction. A trendier-than-your-average trade show, Design Junction sprawls over three floors of the Sorting Office, a 1960s former Post Office building on London's New Oxford Street, selling everything from vintage furniture to cutting-edge contemporary design brands to upscale stationery and posh candles, as well as hosting design-themed talks and events.
The Outline Editions pop-up shop may prove one of the most tempting – and New Review readers can enjoy a special discount on selected prints (see page 38 for details). The new stock includes works by Noma Bar, the graphic artist who's become known for his "negative space" prints – clever visual puns, where the image can "pop" in two ways. They're often tagged with an equally neat title, adding further layers of resonance, as with "Therein Lies the Tail" (a tale of two fishes, perhaps) or "Pop Art", both above.
Kristjana S Williams' series Anachroquarianism can also be seen at an exhibition at Shapero Rare Books during the London Design Festival. Williams has pitted herself against Victorian master engravers – whose work she adores – displaying her vibrant collaged images of exotic, fantastical animals or lush landscapes alongside the careful ornithological records by master engravers from the 19th century such as John Gould and Jacques Barraband. Using snippets of engravings in her own collages, she was, she says, "totally inspired by these old masters – it was this natural thing that came together" with her works providing "a more contemporary version of these old amazing drawings".
Born in Iceland, Williams grew up between there and the UK. But Iceland was, in a strange way, the second major inspiration for this series: "Growing up in Iceland there weren't a lot of trees around – I used to fantasise about trees, birds and bees and fantasy flowers, and all the amazing flora and fauna that I really missed." The print overleaf, entitled "Rosar Hjartur Tre", began as a bare outline of a stark wintry tree, and over months Williams added scanned images of ferns and birds, butterflies and beasts, before the whole thing was re-coloured digitally to give it those jewel-like hues. It's a method which is, she explains, "half old-fashioned collage, half very modern".
Though the effect may be very different, Swedish artist Petra Börner also uses collage, before digitally printing. She cuts out and collates bold shapes from brightly coloured vintage paper, to deliver a clear punchy image. "For me, colours are very important; I often almost start working from the colour," she says. "I try to get hold of k vintage paper, from flea markets and offcuts. I like the different textures [of vintage paper] – and it's quite hard to find great colour paper. I find it interesting to collect things as part of the process. It's very hands-on."
The above design (called "Play 1") was commissioned by a Swedish publisher, Bonnier, as part of a series of novels which Börner provided the artwork for. It became the cover for Den Allvarsamma Leken – The Serious Game – by Hjalmar Söderberg, a Swedish classic, and a tale of unrequited love. Börner knew the book well. Usually, she says, "it's quite an instinctive process – it's visualising the feel of the book rather than the story".
While Börner's work starts by hand and winds up digital, printmaker Anthony Burrill is committed to doing the whole thing the old-fashioned way. His prints, which he started in 2004 with a popular "Work Hard and Be Nice to People" slogan, are made by using a "really old press, about 60 years old, and all the wood block is a similar age" – and obviously, being made of wood, there are limits in terms of the different shapes and sizes of font that can used.
But for Burrill, that's all part of appeal: "Working on the computer you can do anything you want – it's nice to have some rules. And it gives it a nice print quality." But does he reprint them digitally, to speed things up? Perish the thought! "They're all produced in the old-fashioned way," he admonishes. "It'd be unforgivable to do it like that!"
Outline Editions will be at Design Junction, The Sorting Office, London WC1 (thedesignjunction.co.uk), 20 to 23 September. All prints are also available at outline-editions.co.uk, 020 8451 3400
From 16 to 23 September, readers can get an exclusive 15 per cent off the above prints by Kristjana S Williams, Petra Börner and Anthony Burrill. To claim your discount, simply quote 'new review reader offer' on the Outline Editions website or phone line.
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