Saturday, 11 March 2017


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

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