Friday 31 March 2017

Behind the Scenes of the Passport Office, Arnolfini, Bristol.

My niece and I had such a great time running our Passport Office at the Bristol Artist Book Event.
Here are a few photographs from the day. All photographs by Tom Sowden.

The passport office was based on Lucy from Peanuts, psychiatrist booth. 

At the end of the weekend we both collected stamps in our passports from all the participating exhibitors/stall holders/publishers.

See you next time ! 

Saturday 25 March 2017

Rubber Stamp Passport Office - Exhibition & Performance, B.A.B.E Arnolfini, Bristol.

Join illustrator Stephen Fowler and artist Harriet Price, as they open their Rubber Stamp Passport Office for the first time.

They will be issuing an edition of 100 passports, as a means to navigate BABE and collect stamp impressions from the many bookmakers, small publishers, artists and other stallholders, who are contributing to this rubber stamp Happening. To be one of the lucky few who are issued with a passport, form an orderly queue at one of the following times.

Passport Office Opening Times Saturday

Morning; 11 - 13.00

Afternoon; 14 - 16.00

Passport Office Opening Times Sunday

Morning; 11 - 13.00

Afternoon; 14.00 - 15.00

Harriet Price is a painter, drawer, rubber stamp printer and model maker. She also works with, amongst other things, sewing machines, felt, papier mache, and Posca Pens.

Many thanks to G.F.Smith for sponsoring the Rubber Stamp Passport Office.

Friday 24 March 2017

Craft Stamper Interview March 2017

I was interviewed for the March edition of 'Craft Stamper'.

RUNNER: Regular: Artist in Residence

TITLE: Artist in Residence: Stephen Fowler

(((Hi Stephen, thank you so much for working with us! Please answer the questions below in approx. 150 words per question and attach around 5 images to accompany some of your answers. Thanks again!)))

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and background as a maker. 

A: I studied Illustration at both degree and post graduate level at Harrow Art School and Central Saint Martins school of Art & Design. I caught the printing bug during my time at Harrow, I particularly liked etching and woodcut, and this was where I first experienced the excitement of carving rubber stamps and making artist books. 
Since then I’ve been an Illustrator, D.J, making posters, flyers, projections and souvenirs for my own club nights. Exhibited in galleries and artist book fairs, run experimental and masterclasses in both print, rubber stamping and artist books. I’ve also orchestrated Wildman life classes around the country. Alongside these indeavors, I’ve taught Illustration in a number of art schools including Banbury & Bicester College, Kingston University, Camberwell Art College, and Worcester University were I’ve recently taken up a part time position. My art and teaching practice are intertwined, they fed each other.  

Q: Your artwork is very diverse; what would you say is your main source of inspiration?

A: It’s hard to say, I suppose the medium, every medium has its qualities, so a lot of time I allow that to determine my ideas. For example, I’ve recently carved lots of rubbery food stamps these included; processed cheese squares, ham and round sausage slices. On another occasion, using the same carved potato, I printed a series of portrait impressions over a week, called ‘Memento Mori’. At first the portrait was youthful, but by the fifth day it had started to shrink and crinkle, by the seventh day you can imagine what happened! Another instance I explored white pigment ink, for a pigment it’s very translucent, very ghostly, so this inspired some paranormal print postcards. Rubber stamps also make for superb silhouette impressions, this characteristic will inspire a series of graphic descriptive stamps for a potential exhibition and publication in Preston.

Q: What does your work space look like?

A: I’m between studios at the moment. My last work space was on Hackney Road, East London. I shared a floor with my friend Rocky, he’s a carpenter working with reclaimed wood, he very kindly transformed my workspace, building shelves, work surface out of found tea-crates, old doors and discarded furniture. He used a bay-window, and an old British Rail waiting room window to separate our work areas. His higgledy pigglty interior decoration made for inspiring workspace! On the walls I super glued clothes pegs, so artwork, drawings clippings could be moved and replaced at ease. I had several bookcases, and workstations to lay out inspirational material, for the making of books and large prints. By the two large windows at the far end of the studio you’d have seen a clothes line with drying prints, a sink and stove for cooking my supper, or breakfast if I’d worked through the night. 

Q: Which technique/material do you enjoy using the most?

A: Hmm, difficult to say, anything that’s cheap! I’m always on the lookout for rubbers/erasers in stationeries, art, craft, or gift shops, for making into stamps. I already have a large collection, which I’m steadily working my through. Working with a variety of erasers, be they large or very small in size, and unusually shaped, always sparks the imagination and makes for a variety of inventive results. More and more commercially made rubber stamp blocks or soft Lino sheets are available, (suggesting a rubber stamp revival perhaps?). I like testing them, trying them out. I’m finding the textured back of Adigraf linoleum particularly satisfying to print with at moment. But still nothing beats the reliability of speedball speedy carve.  

Q: Which stage of the creative process do you find most exciting?
A: Right now it’s the research stage. By the time I’d finished my book on Rubber Stamping, I’d unearthed a lot of historical material, and came across Pawel Petasz, a leading Polish Mail Artist. His work came to prominence
during the Cold War. Poland’s printing presses were severely regulated at the time, so he took to making Lino cuts, potato prints and hand carved rubber stamps. His work is graphic, raw, expressive and very inventive, and he’s still alive today. As is Picasso Giglione, a contemporary of Petasz, your readers may know his rubber Stamp shop, ‘Stampland’, based in Chicago. Both Giglione and Scott Helmes, another stamp artist, have recently donated their entire collections of rubber stamp related material to the Minnesota Centre for Book Arts. By next summer this working archive will be available to view and used by the public. I’ve been invited to be archive’s first artist in residence, I’m looking forward to delving through what promises to be an exciting treasure trove.

Q: What advice do you have for emerging designer makers working in stamping? 
A: Make friends with other stampers, wither that’s going to rubber stamp workshops, via Mail Art, or why not start up a stamping club? You’ll find encouragement and inspiration from other’s artwork and feedback.  Mail Art; there’s nothing like receiving unexpected art through the post, it’s a joyful experience, comparable to birthday cards from old friends or love letters. Sharing or/and collaborating can open your eyes to other ways of making, craving, printing, and a different-types and colours of ink, dye or pigment, and even a variety of new subject matter.
Try and make the most of the stamping medium, it’s not just a reproduction process, it’s great for making repeats, its portable so print on people, buildings, and food, and why not make your own set of letters if you can’t find the ones you want. It’s often used as an official form of language so carve own collection of commands or instructional stamps. Most importantly have fun with stamping (and of course buy my book!). 

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Rubber Stamp Workshop with the 1st Year Kingston Illustration Course Students.

I was guest lecturer at Kingston Art School on the 21st March. This has been an annual tradition for quite sometime.
The students made some excellent prints, with both rubber stamps and foam stamps
Take a look!

Saturday 11 March 2017

Association of Illustrators World Illustration Award – 'Rubber Stamping ' Shortlisted 2017.

I'm overjoyed to announce, Rubber Stamping: Get Creative with Stamps, Rollers and Other Printmaking Techniques has been shortlisted by the Association of Illustrators World Illustration Award, in the book category.

BOOKISH NESS - Trip to Loch Ness!

Sarah Bodman asked me to propose a book for World Book Night.

I chose Tim Dinsdale's  'The Loch Ness Monster', published in 1961.

World Book Night is a national celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April every year. Books are given out across the UK with a focus on reaching those who don’t regularly read, and are gifted through organisations including prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters, as well as by passionate individuals who give out their own books within their communities.
World Book Night is run by The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers.

Previous books included, Margaret Atwood Handmaid's Tale, and Stephen King's 'The Shinning'

international Artists,Illustrators and Printmakers are invited to read the selected book and respond with a piece of artwork, in the Shinning's case it was a prop for an animation short, for the Handmaiden Tale, an edition of rubber stamped cards ( one of which is in the Tate Museum's collection)
Here's a link to a short film showing the edition being complied

Why this book I hear you say? Well let me introduce Tim Dinsdale.

Here he is pointing to a model of the Loch Ness monster.
After seeing the Surgeons photograph of the monster. He decided to take a long trip to Loch Ness, after several fruitless visits to the Loch side, and just as he was about to leave he finally got a glimpse of Nessie. He had a camera at his side and took this famous film of an unknown creature swimming across the Loch, creating a large wake for all to see.

His story is described in exciting detail in the book. He went on to write 3 more books on the subject.


About a dozen of us visited the Loch. And kept a beady eye out for any unusual splashes and wakes.

Alas we didn't have any luck, however we did have an encounter with Adrain Shines,  Shine is the leader of the Loch Ness & Morar Project and has been engaged in fieldwork in the Highlands since 1973 when he constructed the manned underwater observation chamber "Machan". He subsequently led over 1000 students and lay volunteers on expeditions, training them to observe, sample and record data. In more recent collaborations, projects have involved workers from some 20 universities and academic institutions within the UK and overseas.

He signed a copy of his book.

Later that same day we all made art pieces, contributed to a rubber stamp Loch Ness map, and started to plan a publication and short film of our trip.

Here's the abstract, written by Sarah Bodman.

“Although there have been quite a few books written on the subject, really we know very little.” NESSIE, Seven Years in Search of the Monster, Frank Searle Monster-Hunter Extraordinary, Coronet Books, 1976. For 2017, our tribute is to all the weird and wonderful, scientific and practical, believing and sceptical endeavours recorded in publications about the Loch Ness Monster – hence the apt title of BOOK ISH NESS created by Linda Parr. A collaboration with 46 national and international artists for World Book Night 2017. BOOKISHNESS, 2017, edition of 100. One copy for each contributor to the event. In the collection of Tate Britain, UK; Winchester School of Art Library, UK.

And the film! ( this features, photographs taken during the trip, drawings, prints, and spreads from the book)


Barbara Frankie Ryan interviewed me for her marvellous Zine 'BFR'.

BFR mag is a zine started in 2008 by Barbara Frankie Ryan, in her teenage bedroom. An excuse to bring together work by friends and put into print the things we talk about. 

Almost 10 years on, it’s still a celebration of thoughts, drawings, writings and photography. The contributors are always at the heart of each issue.  Discussing themes from the silly to the serious - it’s perfect toilet reading.  

“Lovely inkiness to make you smile”
It’s Nice That

“BFR Mag is a little matrix of wittily captioned illustrations that vacillate between sharply honest vulnerability and hard-edged cheeky humour, punctuated by playful discussions of fashion. “ 
Dazed & Confused

Barbara's zine developed from a photocopied publication, through several issues in silkscreen, and then most recently it was reproduced using the risograph process

Here's her interview in full. 

Your book is an absolutely thorough and essential guidebook to all things stamping; it covers all fronts entirely. Is there a book that you hold close to your chest as a practical handbook or other resource?

Yes indeed, The Rubber Stamp Album, or to give it its full title,.The Rubber Stamp Album: The Complete Guide to Making Everything Prettier, Weirder, and Funnier. How and where to Buy Over 5,000 Rubber Stamps. And How to Use Them, by Joni K. Mille & Lowry Thompson. The book's very comprehensive, outlining not only the history ( who invented the process, how it evolved etc ), but reading it now, it acts as snapshot of history, conveying a 1970s inclusive and sharing approach to all things rubber stamp,mirroring all those likeminded, committed, and beautifully DIY designed books, on subjects such as self sufficiency, and communal living.
Featuring chapters on Mail Art, hard carved rubber stamping, lovely section on Sister Corita Kent ( graphic artist, Catholic Nun and teacher ), and an overview of commercial rubber stamp catalogues.
It also reflects the cusp, when rubber stamp art turned from not just being employed by conceptual artists involved with or influenced by art movements such as Fluxus (it features artists like Anna Banana and Ray DiPalma) but to a wider community of designers, illustrators and then finally all people with an artistic bent. The authors went onto to publish the journal/zine Rubber Stamp Madness , which is still being produced. 

Vegetable stamps, rubber stamps, clay stamps, roller printing, using found objects - your book covers a whole host of approaches. But is there a particular method you always find yourself drawn to (and why)?

Right now I'm enjoying stamping with Neoprene foam, available in art, craft or stationery shops, displayed as craft, or funky foam ( but don't let name put you off ). I find this material surprisingly immediate, all you have to do is cut out a shape/image/design with either a pair of scissors or scalpel,incising with pencils or pens for the detail , ink up, and stamp. Prints resemble stone litho impressions, due in part to texture of the foam. 

I love the host of examples from other artists, showcased in your book. Do you have any historical or more contemporary stamping personal stamping inspirations?

I'm in awe of the Polish rubber stamp artist, Pawel Petasz. Known for his prints created during the cold war, when all print production was carefully regulated, and even basic art materials were in short supply, Petasz used materials at hand, such as potatoes, erasers and floor lino to make his art. Distributing journals, posters and other primitively beautiful ephemera via the postal system, he came to the attention to of other Mail/Correspondence artists from around the world. You can find his work in the Museum of Modern Art catalogue; 'Eye on Europe: Prints, Books & Multiples, 1960 to Now'.
As contemporary practitioners go, I rate Natsuko Oshima, based in Japan, (the land of rubber stamps), her stamps are a combination of both sensitive personal observation, being reportage in approach, and utilitarian in style, I can imagine them stamped in architectural plans. Her recent publication, 'Tokyoite Stamp' is a wonderful thing, and worth seeking out.

As someone who is a visiting art school teacher and workshop host, are there any techniques or ideas you've borrowed(/stolen!) along the way from others?

Ha ha , no, no I haven't . Although I have been inspired by participants/students. Teaching is a two way experience, if things are going well then both the teacher and student learn from each other.

The GIGANTIC stamps in your book, are just brilliant. What is the largest or most ambitious stamping project you have been involved in?

If you like oversized stamps, go looking at the world's biggest, a piece of public art by Claes Oldenburg. 
My biggest, and most ambitious was probably the stamping workshop I organised with Bristol's Arnolfini bookshop to promote my book, over 150 people came, all ages and generations, carving, and stamping their creations on the paper covered walls that stretched around the entrance hall, It was a marvellous day.     

Have you got any exciting projects in the line up? If so, please tell more!

Next year I'm of to the Minnesota Centre for Book Arts, they've just opened the worlds biggest rubber stamp archive,  featuring the private collections of Scott Helmes and William “Picasso” Gaglione, numbering 70,000 stamps in total - imagine that !  I'm going to be their first artist in residence, very exciting.
Closer to home, I'm running some workshops at the Victoria and Albert museum to coincide with an exhibition on post soviet printmaking.  Then in the spring a rubber stamp zine for Craig Atkinson's, Cafe Royal, and a passport stamping day for the Bristol Artist Book Event - B.A.B.E. 

Some spreads from BFR 

Autumn / Winter 2017

Friday 3 March 2017

HATCHED ! Illustration Exhibition at the Hive, Worcester.

My Rubber Stamp book featured in an exhibition alongside recent picture book publications by fellow Worcester Illustration lectures; Piet Grobler, Rebecca Palmer and Daisy Hirst. 

The Hive, is a large golden-coloured building in Worcester, England, which houses the fully integrated Worcestershire County Council City of Worcester public library, the University of Worcester's academic library, Worcestershire Record Office the county Archive and Worcestershire Archaeology Service.

The Hive was the first library in Europe to house both a university book collection and a public lending library replacing the City of Worcester library in The Tything and the University of Worcester's Peirson library. It was opened to the public on 2 July 2012 and officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in her Diamond Jubilee year (12 July 2012).

Daisy exhibited work related to her wonderful book, Hilda and the Runaway Baby.  

Becky showed both Ellie and Lump's Very Busy Day and her work in the comic book, A Castle in England 

Piet exhibited work connected to 3 books - ( will get back to you on what they were ! ) 

I got the opportunity to show some of my stamps, and related ephemera 

 And see my stamp print impressions enlarged.

For more information