Artcodes for The Royal Marsden Hospital

Earlier this year I worked alongside young people at the Royal Marsden in Sutton. Emily (from Artcodes) had been in touch with me last year to discuss the possibility of creating some encoded illustrations to help produce support materials for individuals requiring cancer treatment for the hospital and in January I had my first meeting to kickstart my part in the project.

The idea of this project was to use their experiences to create resources, such as leaflets or internet pages, that could be used to tell their story and offer advice and support for patients, their families and their friends. Each of the young people had written an account of their experience of cancer addressing the challenges as well as the things they found helpful. Their accounts were honest, moving and certainly valuable to share.

The brief seemed quite daunting initially, as it seemed a big responsibility and I was anxious about creating the right visualisations that portrayed the feel and message that was needed. However, once I had met with the young people I would be working with, I came away feeling really positive. They were so welcoming, easy to talk to and already had a fairly good idea of what they were looking for, giving honest feedback which was really helpful.

I had initially created some quite abstract illustrations based on microscopic images of cancer cells and DNA. I had steered away from creating illustrations that were representational and actually looked like cancer cells as I worried that individuals and families of those receiving cancer treatment might want to get away from obvious medical and cancer images. I was concerned about seeming insensitive and my illustrations being too strong. However, after some feedback with the young people, I realised that one of their key goals was to try to get away from being polite. They shared an experience and similar frustration of people being too polite to ask, not wanting to mention the 'C' word, not knowing what to say or how to address the issue. I realised that, while the images could still be colourful and playful, they also just needed to be exactly what they were: illustrations of cancer accounts.

I went away after my first feedback session and completely redesigned the illustrations and encoded each one carefully. I created one encoded illustration to provide the link for each account told, and uncoded illustration to accompany the account on its webpage as well as three additional encoded illustrations for general tips and advice and a code for linking directly to all the stories. Each code linking to the accounts was designed using illustrations of cells specific to the account as well as incorporating the recognised colour representing the type of cancer. I included short snippets of the accounts as text in the designs to tie in with personal aspects the stories. My new aim was to make the illustrations reflect the individual's account, whilst also highlighting what brought them together. I was so pleased that the next time we met the illustrations were well-received and with just a couple of odd adjustments needed I soon finished the series.










Printed Notebooks and Purses

With an aim to get an Etsy shop up and running, I have started to create some items to stock and have started off with notebooks and purses. I have kick started my making by exposing some of my linocut designs onto screen.
Since the textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, I wanted to make choices that would help to minimise the impact that my products would have on the environment. For my purses, I chose to print onto organic hemp since it is far more environmentally friendly than cotton. Not only does hemp produce a greater yield than cotton, it doesn't require the use of pesticides and uses far less water. I did however use cotton tape for the labels, but I made sure this was organic. I have used off-cuts and reclaimed fabric for the lining inside rather than purchasing any new fabric and I also handed printed each panel to ensure effective placement whilst also limiting waste, nothing was thrown away! I haven't quite managed to work out what to do with the zips but have been researching companies that make zips from recycled materials. Alternatively I could also re-use zips from worn-out clothes. That's the next thing on my list to tackle!


 

  



For the notebooks, I chose to buy books with Kraft covers as it is compostable, unbleached and sustainable. Kraft card minimises chemical treatment by avoiding the use of bleach and nearly all the chemicals that do get used in the process can be recovered and reused. It would be great to use notebooks with a Kraft cover and recycled pages...again, that's another bit of research on my to do list.







Figs and Pumpkins

A bit of an odd combination but I've recently been playing around with my fig and pumpkin lino repeats by combining them with some screen printed details to make a small series of one-off prints. I've really enjoyed combing the two printing techniques, it's been a great way to experiment with colour and layering. I also love the difference in finish that you get from each technique; the smoothness of the screen mixed with the texture of the lino.

Couldn't help but share...

It's way too adorable. The lovely Odin hanging out in my hand printed baby gro 😍

Linocut Repeat Patterns

Recently I have been experimenting with creating linocut repeat patterns. It's been quite a while since I last desinged and created repeats entirely by hand and doing this through lino cutting is a completely new process to me. I've found it really enjoyable and very satisfying as I love the puzzle in desiging everything to fit together both technically and in terms of having a natural flow, but also the reward of printing the lino and seeing everything print and line up the way I imagined.

My first linocut repeat, which I shared in a previous post, was inspired by a book that I found at school, documenting British trees with the most beautiful encyclopedia illustrations. I used a combination of leaves and seedpods for my repeat.
One of the things I love about lino cutting is the sense of movement you can inject into your designs simply by using the character of the medium. I wanted to create a full repeat with leaves that could be moving and rustling in the wind. Once my design was cut and printed using lino, I then transferred it onto Photoshop and exposed it on a screen for ease of printing. The image above is the digital version.

My next two repeats I created after spending my summer working and holidaying in Greece and Italy. The brightness of the oranges hanging from trees in people's gardens really struck me as little polka dot accents in the green backdrop. And the sheer amount of pear juice I consumed, particularly at my friends' wedding, was one of the highlights!


Print and Make

After four years of working with each other and two years of Print and Make, Lilli and I have finally created a website for our creative workshops! Take a look at the new site and see what kind of creative projects we've been up to! www.printandmake.net