The Artfinder Blog

Printmaker Kate Heiss speaks about the Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale, being a stay-at-home mum and why perfection is boring!

We are very proud to be supporting the Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale, which takes place from 22nd - 28th September 2016 at the Pitt Building in Cambridge.

To celebrate the launch of the event, we speak with organiser and Artfinder printmaker extraordinaire Kate Heiss about the pleasure of printmaking, being a stay-at-home mum and why you should embrace mistakes and avoid perfection!

On becoming an artist

"I've always loved being creative. When I was little, I was in awe of my older cousin who wanted to go to art school. She was always sketching and painting and her dedication and passion definitely influenced me. When I was at school I used to spend most of my lunchtime in the art department. It was where I was happiest.

I trained as a textile designer and worked in the fashion industry for many years. After finishing an MA in textile design at The Royal College of Art, I worked for the Japanese designer  Michiko Koshinot and then for a printed textile agent who sold collections to international fashion brands. I was also a visiting tutor on the textile design course at Central St. Martins.

When I had my son we moved out of London and I stopped working. I had to adapt to being a stay at home mum and wanted to try something that would work with the school run and allow me to be creative. At that time I particularly liked the work of Angie Lewin. Knowing that Angie came from a textile background, I thought I'd give printmaking a go!

I immediately fell in love with linocutting and printmaking as a medium."

'Nuthatch at Sandringham', £150 by Kate Heiss

On being an artist

"I see myself as a commercial artist because of my design background. I produced over ten designs a week for my textile agent and have been happiest working at a fast pace ever since. I wouldn't call myself a fine artist, more of a commercial printmaker."

'Holly & Ivy', £60 by Kate Heiss

On the studio

"My studio is in my converted garage; I put some skylights and glass doors onto the building, so there is plenty of good natural light. It's also about ten steps away from our family home and overlooks our allotment and garden. It's my haven."

Kate applying ink to her silkscreen, in her studio

Kate in the final stages of a silkscreen print!

On inspiration

"I'm inspired by where I live in Norfolk; by nature, birds, flowers and the countryside.

I gather inspiration by foraging for things on walks and then sketching them in preparation for designing a new print. I admire printmakers Edward Bawden, Matt Underwood and fellow Artfinder artist Hannah Forward. I am naturally drawn to colour and love that their relief prints are so fresh and vibrant.

I also love the way William LaChance, Alex Hense and Kirra Jamison create lots of energy with intense colours and abstract shapes."

'Spring Sunshine', £65 by Kate Heiss
Each stage of the lino print

On Challenges

"The majority of my work is based on flowers and therefore I tend to flourish in the summer when there are lots of flowers in bloom! In the winter months, I struggle to get inspired. I take stock of a lot of photographs and sketches during the summer, so that I can work from them during the winter.

If I have a creative block I find Pinterest and Instagram a great source of inspiration. I follow artists, illustrators, interior designers, fashion designers, and stylists. I also like to visit Cambridge or London to see exhibitions."

'Picnic at the Mill Pond', £45 by Kate Heiss

On role models

"I love what French printmakers Atelier Bingo are doing at the moment. They create abstract screenprints and etchings which they then apply to a wide range of different products, like book covers, ceramics and rugs.

I also like their working model and diverse business approach."

'Blakeney Point', £25 by Kate Heiss

On life

"I live in Ashwell Hertfordshire. My mantra is "do interesting things and interesting things will happen to you". My husband gave me that advice."

On Artfinder

"I like Artfinder because I am in control of what work I put online and when. It is really useful to see who likes my work and it is a good way to gauge which prints are and are not popular.

I like the fact that the art on Artfinder is accessible to all and is not too high brow.

I joined exactly 3 years ago, in September 2013. Artfinder has really allowed me to reach international customers and followers!"

On the Cambridge Printmakers Biennale

"I'm currently in the midst of organising the Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale where I will also be exhibiting. I joined the core organising team this year and we have curated an eclectic exhibition of printmakers, edition studios and educational printmaking centres from the Cambridge region.

The exhibition aims to celebrate and promote hand–pulled printmaking. During the week-long exhibition there will be talks, workshops and demonstrations from renowned printmakers such as Angie Lewin, Neil Bousfield and Celia Hart.

The Biennale will take place in The Pitt Building in Cambridge from 22nd to 28th September."

Kate will take part in the Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale, between 22nd - 28th September

On the future

"In the future, I see myself continuing with my printmaking studio. I have enjoyed working on a much bigger scale recently and would like to continue producing larger pieces of work. My prints are determined by the size of the press, so it is a great challenge to work outside these boundaries. I would also love the opportunity to work in collaboration with designers and manufacturers of products."

Advice for other artists

"My advice to other artists is to always try to enjoy what you do, make it fun and don't be too precious. Mistakes are good, incorporate them into your work because perfection is boring!"

'Punting at Cambridge', £45 by Kate Heiss

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