Amelia’s Magazine | Behind the Scenes at Print Club London: an interview with Kate Newbold Higginson

Print Club London interview-wall

I first met Kate Newbold Higginson when she was just setting up Print Club London and only had a pop-up shop on Brick Lane. Since then, the collective have gone on to great things, with a huge screen printing workshop in East London as well as their new gallery and workspace, Millers Junction. Artists like Bob Gill, Kate Moross and James Joyce call the studio home, and every year the fantastic Blisters exhibition showcases their talents alongside that of unknown newcomers. I caught up with Kate to look back at the studio’s success story, and to find out what it’s like screenprinting bags for Stella McCartney and throwing parties for Pinterest.

Print Club London interview-Fred Higginson, Rose Stallard, Kate Newbold

Fred Higginson, Rose Stallard, Kate Newbold

Tell us about how you and your husband Fred set up Print Club London; artist Rose Stallard is involved too, isn’t she?

About 10 years ago Fred set up Absorb Arts which is a fine art charity based initially in a church in Norwich that he converted into studios. Then he came to London and we did the same in London. Rose Stallard, our Creative Director, knew Fred from Norwich University of the Arts and rented space from us. One day she asked Fred if he would consider setting up some screenprinting studios as she couldn’t find anywhere suitable and thought that lots of other people would want space too. She wanted it to be like a gym with open access where you could rock up on your BMX (this was Rose’s main aim, there had to be BMXs!) and screenprint all night and day. And so Print Club was born; Fred set it up with Rose’s creative help and screenprinting know-how and it went from there. I joined a year into the saga after leaving my job in film. Fred and Rose were great at the creative side of things, producing amazing artwork and getting artists on board, but they were pretty bad at actually managing a business, so I set about ensuring we had clients, members and could feasibly run as a studios. The fun stuff, no less!

Print Club London interview-joanna ham

You have lots of other established artists under your roof, like Bob Gill, Kate Moross, James Joyce and Margot Bowman. Who are the rising stars whose work we should be snapping up now?
Joanna Ham (above) works on these amazing fashion pictograms! And her bunnies are uber cool and popular. She produces two very different styles, both incredibly successful Rosie Emerson works with very interesting techniques, and again, is often influences by the fashion world.

Print Club London interview-EGG-AND-SOLDIERS

Claudia Borfiga is one of my techncians and a genius! She’s very witty and that comes through in her illustrations: the one above is titled Egg and Soldiers.

Print Club London interview-MEOW Cassandra Yap

Cassandra Yap draws lots of naked women and has a taste for fetish; her work sells very well!

Print Club London-Reiner

Johnathan Reiner is a doctor by day and print maker by night!

Print Club London interview-Desk-space-London-Millers-Junction-01 (1)

As well as screenprinters, you have lots of illustrators working in Millers Junction- can you tell us a bit about this space?
This space is our most recent addition to the print club warehouse. I was actually renting office space with a previous company in Shoreditch and it was pretty basic, all in separate rooms. There was no camaraderie, no tea meetings and most importantly no shared jobs or feedback on work which is hugely important when you are freelance and work alone or in small teams. You really want to talk about your work, pass jobs around and get ideas from others. I noticed how many people in Dalston sat in cafes with laptops so when we took over the final space it seemed obvious to me to set up an open plan deskspace for creatives.

The idea is 39 desks are rented out and we provide you with all you internet needs, tea, coffee, bike storage, dog storage (we have a few hounds here) cake, meeting room, gallery hire, free use of the print club and a workshop. Plus lovely extras like events – in December Jameson Whiskey came in to give everyone a whiskey tasting event, Gü Puds brought in cakes and then there are less exciting but useful events like a VAT talk for small businesses from our accountants. The idea is that we support small businesses and individuals so that they look from the outside to their client like a bigger more professional company. We also do stuff like sign for courier deliveries – it’s a basic thing but in my old office nobody would do it! When you work alone it’s a basic requirement that someone can sign for your deliveries. And we try to achieve these little details in everything we offer at Millers Junction, it’s important to us that people here love it and we provide one of the best and more affordable deskspaces in east London. You can find out more about our studio space here.

Print Club London interview-Blisters 2

You also print for clients like Stella McCartney and even Facebook and Twitter- do you think screenprinting has become ‘cool’ again because of the backlash against the digital age? I suppose this could apply to the rise in popularity of illustrations over photographs too…
Yes, we are super lucky. We print beautiful bags for Stella McCartney, her ethos is very green and ethical which makes us a good fit. Everything here is waterbased and the energy costs for manufacture are low as its hand made. So we can produce bespoke initial bags easily and very well- it’s a lovely commission. Likewise we have been doing workshops and events for Pinterest to get bloggers into the studios with some great people like Jo Robinson and Hattie Stewart. Facebook invited us in to give a screenprinting workshop too.

People want to manufacture again, it’s what Britain was so great at and I guess people are realising that not only is digital not always so exciting but that we are brilliant at making things. And screenprinting is just one of the products we are fortunate in the UK to have not only great artists to produce work but also now great facilities like ours. We bought our warehouse two years ago so luckily we won’t be priced out of Dalston! Its one of the few remaining commercial factories in the area, lots are now flats so it was important to us and the previous owner, whose father ran it as a sewing factory, that it stayed commercial and a manufacturing hub- which it most certainly is. We have 50 fine artists upstairs, 70 print makers a month in print club and 39 designers and illustrators in Millers Junction. We are literally churning out work. Although I’m sure much less than the sewing factory did in 1910! But we will get there.

Print Club London-WORKSHOP

How can people get involved with Print Club London?
Do a workshop and join up! It’s easy. You don’t need to know how to print, we can teach you everything in our workshop, and then you can become a member. We assist you in learning the ropes and producing new work and once it’s up to a level thats sellable- and this can take time for some and not for others- then we sell the work online in our gallery.

Or you can join our deskspace in Millers Junction – its £220pcm and you get free use of print club in that so its really cost effective for designers who want to do a little print making on the side.

Print Club London interview-Blisters

And lastly you can be part of our shows. Every year we commission artists to take part in BLISTERS our annual screenprint event. Its open submission so anyone can take part. Previous shows have included Eine, Jamie Reid, Kate Moross, Mr Bingo, lots of well known people! But also newbies or people still in college. We choose work based on merit not who you are.

Categories ,Absorb Arts, ,Blisters, ,BMX, ,Bob Gill, ,Brick Lane, ,Cassandra Yap, ,Claudia Borfiga, ,dalston, ,East London, ,Egg and Soldiers, ,Eine, ,Fred Higginson, ,Gü Puds, ,Hattie Stewart, ,interview, ,James Joyce, ,Jameson Whiskey, ,Jamie Reid, ,Jo Robinson, ,Joanna Ham, ,Johnathan Reiner, ,Kate Moross, ,Kate Newbold Higginson, ,Meow, ,Millers Junction, ,Mr Bingo, ,Norwich University of the Arts, ,Pinterest, ,Print Club London, ,Rose Stallard, ,Rosie Emerson, ,shoreditch, ,Stella McCartney, ,VAT talk

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Amelia’s Magazine | Larmer Tree Festival 2011 Review, Sunday: Show of Hands and the Recycled Safari Carnival

Jaipur Brass Band by Cassandra Yap
Jaipur Brass Band by Cassandra Yap.

Our first destination on Sunday at Larmer Tree Festival was the main stage to witness the joyous sounds of the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, side effects who were wearing the most marvellous embroidered costumes.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Jaipur Kawa Brass Band
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Jaipur Kawa Brass Band
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Jaipur Kawa Brass Band

Jaipur Brass Band by Cassandra Yap
Jaipur Brass Band by Cassandra Yap.

I was just admiring the man with the jaunty loose fabric in his turban when a sudden gust of wind tipped a large volume of collected water on my head.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Jaipur Kawa Brass Band
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Jaipur Kawa Brass Band,
The rain came and went but it didn’t deter the smiling Indians from traipsing out on to the lawn with their tiny traditional dancer in tow, who danced gamely with the Westerners in their ungainly raincapes.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Moscow Drug ClubLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Moscow Drug Club
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Moscow Drug Club

They were followed by Moscow Drug Club, named for an 80s song by a fellow Canadian band and fronted by an elegant lady in polka dot wellies, who for some reason stayed seated, but always with a smile on her face as she sang classic tango, gypsy and blues covers. An undoubted highlight was the two guitarists doubling up to play an extended riff.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review painting
Never mind the changeable weather, an artist had taken up residence on the lawn to illustrate the band.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Show of HandsLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review Show of Hands
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Show of Hands
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Show of Hands
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Show of Hands
We stayed on until the afternoon specifically to see Show of Hands, a favourite of my boyfriend’s dad since he saw them at a folk festival some years ago. And now I know what captivated him so. This magical folk collective are a musical and political tour de force, playing songs about social media, Fred Goodwin… and poachers, all with fabulous musicianship. But an assured highlight for me was their cover of 80s classic Boys of Summer. I’ve tried listening to them online since I’ve got home and it just isn’t the same experience, but live they were an absolute treat. Another festival highlight.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Granny Turismo
As we made our exit we passed performance art by Larkin’ About – a pair of men in drag riding Segways masked as giant tartan shoppers inside which lurked boom boxes. Catch Granny Turismo at a festival near you soon.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival
Recycled Safari Carnival by Jessica Knight.

In the lower field the Recycled Safari Carnival made its way laboriously towards the upper fields through the sticky mud.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival

At the front of the procession a dancing peacock girl gamely kept her heels on, and behind her followed tigers, giraffes, butterflies and of course more peacocks…. this being a very English country estate kind of safari after all.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review - recycled safari carnival

I’d visit the Larmer Tree Festival again in a heartbeat. Like Latitude Festival, which takes place on the same weekend, it’s got a little bit of everything – music, comedy, art, workshops, theatre, film, poetry – except it’s all on a much more manageable scale so despite less choice the experience is far more pleasurable. It was quick and simple to get around the site with no heaving crowds to bar the way, which I imagine to be especially essential for families with small children. At last year’s Latitude I was forced to watch the comedy on a big screen outside the tent, but at Larmer Tree I was easily able to sit in the front row for an up close comedy experience.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review peacocks

Likewise it was easy to see bands properly even in the main arena. Latitude may have dyed sheep behind a fence but at Larmer Tree peacocks wander freely amongst festival goers, and they were MOST entertaining, let me tell you.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review peacocksLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review peacocks

I have just one small complaint about Larmer Tree Festival: the general lack of recycling facilities. In fact there was barely a bin on the entire campsite, not that it mattered much given that middle class families are so darn good at cleaning up. Still, I’d like better options for disposal of my beer cups… and whilst we’re on the subject, can they be biodegradable in future?

Overall I had a bloody marvellous time. Why not check it out for yourself next year? And in the meantime read my Thursday, Friday and Saturday reviews too for a full flavour of the whole lavely festival.

Categories ,blues, ,Boys of Summer, ,Canadian, ,Cassandra Yap, ,folk, ,Fred Goodwin, ,Granny Turismo, ,Jessica Knight, ,Larkin’ About, ,Larmer Tree Festival, ,Latitude Festival, ,Moscow Drug Club, ,Mud, ,Peacocks, ,Performance Art, ,political, ,Recycled Safari Carnival, ,Segway, ,Show of Hands, ,Social Media, ,Tango

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