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Featured Shop: Little Print Press

Mar 30, 2016

by Valerie Rains

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Emma Lawrenson of Little Print Press never had any doubt that she was destined to be an artist — that much was established from the start. “I was passionate about art from a really young age,” Emma says. “Even as a child, I knew that was all I ever really wanted to do. After my A-levels, I did a foundation course, which is a grounding in many different subjects — a bit of ceramics, a bit of textile design, all sorts of things — and when I had a go at printmaking, I was hooked straightaway.”

Still, the UK-based artist’s signature style — one she’s been building on for more than 20 years — came about as a bit of a fluke. “When I was doing some printmaking during my foundation course, I’d made a really detailed drawing of a classical building with columns and loads of plasterwork,” she says. “But when I took the etching plate out of the acid bath, I looked at the underside, and it had this amazing cross pattern; instead of inking up the top, I decided to ink up the back, and got this really gorgeous abstract print. That’s when I started to get more interested in very simplified shapes and forms. In fact, the whole reason I got into abstract and minimal work stemmed from that moment, which was actually a mistake.”

Based on the artist’s critical accolades and wide-ranging popularity — Emma won the prestigious New Light Art Prize Printmakers Award last year, and her work has appeared on sets for Mad Men and Parenthood and in countless collectors’ homes — that “mistake” was anything but. Read on to learn more about Emma’s process and get a peek inside her West Yorkshire workspace. 

emma-001

What drew you to printmaking originally?

I like processes, and I like to be really methodical and precise, and that’s what printmaking, for me, is all about. You’ve got to have everything pre-planned and worked out before you start. It’s not like painting, where you’re working directly on a canvas. And if you’re doing an etching or a screen printing, there’s always that anticipation before you lift the screen up, because you can’t know exactly what’s going to happen. That’s part of why I like printmaking so much.

After my foundation course, I went on to do a four-year degree in fine art; I did printmaking and quite a lot of drawing, working in a very similar style to the one I’ve got now. Back then, I was living in London with a group of artists and musicians, and what really spurred me on was that a guy I lived with was doing print textiles at the Royal College of Art, and he said, “Why don’t you come to college with me one day?” As soon as I walked around the printmaking area, I was shocked at how amazing the work was and in awe of the students.

From that moment on, I knew I had to go there after I finished my degree, which I did; I got in and did a two-year program in printmaking. It was such a fantastic opportunity and a privilege to go there — I was taught by Tracey Emin, people like that. It’s kind of crazy, looking back, but it was fab.

emma-beautiful
emma-ink-horizontal

How has your work has evolved over time?

My inspiration has always come from my immediate environment. When I was in London, I was looking at an urban environment; now, I live in the countryside, and when I go on walks, it’s all nature. So even though a lot of the geometric, minimal work I’m doing now, I was doing then, I didn’t have any of the organic-type work that I do now. But my style has always been the same: quite abstract, colorful, understated, and simple. If you saw my work then, you would know it was mine.

In the last couple of years, I have changed the way I make my stencils, though. Before, I used cut paint stencils, so everything was really hard-edged and quite graphic; now, I’ve softened it a lot — all my stencils are hand-drawn using chinagraph pencils or pastels. The prints themselves are a lot softer in appearance, and they look more handmade. So that’s changed, although the actual compositions and colors haven’t much.

emma-studio-002
littleprint-extra

How do you go from a glimpse of a sheep pen to an abstract image? How do you translate the elements of the landscape around you to these wonderfully simple compositions?

I approach every new print in the same way I always have, and my inspiration comes from the environment I’m in at the moment. I’m constantly scanning as I’m walking around every day, taking photographs; my geometric work comes from stone barns and doorways and pathways, and my organic work comes from things like leaves and seeds.

When I get back to the studio — I’ve got a studio at home, and a separate studio that I go to print at — I sort through my images. Usually if I’ve seen something that day, I’ll start working right away while it’s fresh. I begin by drawing the image out on paper; then I kind of strip everything back, until I’ve got just the bare essential there from the idea or the photograph that I started from.

Then I make collages: I have inks and bits of paper everywhere, and I paint loads of swatches and start cutting them up. I always print on a flat, colored background — usually cream — so I’ll start moving the collaged pieces around on one of those until the image resolves itself. Sometimes I love what I have straightaway; other times, it can take me a couple of days to get it right.

Once I get to that stage, I’ll start to mix up the paints and inks again so that I’ve got enough to use on the screens, and then I make the actual stencils. If I want them to be larger, sometimes I’ll scan a collage into the computer to adjust the size, then trace it through the screen and make my stencils from that. If a design is going to have 15 colors, I need 15 separate stencils, and it takes time to build them up and make sure they’re all going to fit together — a bit like a jigsaw.

emma-clips
emma-mount

How long does it take you to make a piece with 15 colors? 

I can print that in a day — maybe seven hours — because I’ve been doing it for so long and the water-based inks I use dry pretty quickly. And I usually work on two prints simultaneously, so while one layer is drying, I’m working on the next one. It takes quite a long time, but I do a new edition every week, so maybe 15 will print in a day. Although it takes me a week or two just to get it to that stage — to get it ready to go to the workshop.

So you have a studio at home, and a facility you go to for printing. Do you have plans to build a printing facility at home one day?

Well, I’ve got this gorgeous barn just at the back of the house that’s got nothing in it except junk, and I’ve started buying things to make it a printing studio — a drying rack, some bits and bobs. But it’s such a big project, and I’m so busy; I’m working six days a week. So I think it will happen, but maybe not for a couple more years; and besides, it’s working for me, the way that I prepare at home and then go into the workshop. It makes me focus. I print on Fridays, so all those inks and my stencils have got to be done; I think if the studio was just behind me at the house, I probably I wouldn’t get as much work done, because there wouldn’t be that deadline every week.

emma-sketch
littleprint-extra4

When did Etsy enter the picture for you, and how has that affected your work or your creative process?

I used to teach art before I had children, and when the children got a little bit bigger and started play school, I didn’t want to go back to teaching; I always knew I wanted to focus on my work. That was in 2010, almost six years ago; I went to this workshop, and that’s where I met a girl who’d been selling on Etsy for a while. I built up a little portfolio of prints, maybe about 20, and she said, “Why don’t you open a shop?” I hadn’t heard of Etsy, but I opened my shop and got the work up, and I think the first day I sold nine prints.

Everything kind of spiraled from there. I think for me, I wouldn’t be able to be an artist without Etsy. I exhibit in a lot of galleries and quite prestigious exhibitions, but you hardly ever sell anything — I don’t know why. I have tried to sell on other sites, but I might sell one or two a month where on Etsy I sell 80 a month. It’s just got such a bigger audience. And I do work really hard on my shop: Every day I renew items, and I might do a treasury or two. I spent more time on that at the beginning than now, since I have so many customers who repeat-buy.

emma-hanging
emma-studio

What’s the most challenging part of the printmaking process for you?

Color, for me – sometimes the colors just work, and it’s happy days, and then sometimes I think, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on? Nightmare!’ Last week I did one of the nicest prints I think I’ve ever done, but it took me seven hours to get the colors right. I think people might look at my work and think, ‘I could do that. What is it? A few shapes and a few colors on a piece of paper.’ But it is a lot more complicated and can quite easily go wrong. If you get one color that’s slightly too dark, it will throw the whole print off because it stands out so much. And then if all the colors are too similar, it will look washed out, it won’t show up very well on the screen, and I know that it’s not going to sell. There’s a lot riding on the color for me.

What’s the most exhilarating part of the printmaking process for you?

Adding the final color and seeing that it’s worked: I’ll lift up the screen for the last color on the first print of the edition, and then if there’s no one in the workshop, sometimes I’ll start dancing, going, “Oh, yes, I did it!” So that’s the best bit; but also selling it, because some just sell like hotcakes, and I don’t know why they’re so much more popular. There was one I did ages ago, and I used to sell one every day of the week — I think it was the colors, all bright pinks and oranges and reds.

emma-work-wall

What’s the most popular piece in your shop now? 

Now, my most popular piece is called “Ploughed”; it’s the smaller ones, around the 40 pounds mark, that sell the best. People will buy two or four, and then you get a nice set of prints for an all right price. My other bestseller, which I’ve done now in three different colorways, is one called “28 Leaves.

Ever since I opened my Etsy shop, I have kept a little notebook, and every time I get a sale, I write down the name of the print, the price, and where it’s gone. I’m now in about 35 different countries, I think, and I am up to about 5,000 prints sold now. It’s madness, thinking of where they’ve gone: Iceland, Australia, Denmark, and especially the USA and the UK.

What’s next for your shop?

I’m just keeping going with what I’m doing. I know what my buyers want, so I’m always making that kind of work, because obviously that’s the business side of it. But then I’ve got my real artist side of it, which is the stuff at the exhibitions. But I like to put everything in my shop, because everything does sell; it may not all sell quite as well as the smaller pieces, but I’m an artist at the end of the day, so that’s what I do.

Keep up with Little Print Press on Pinterest.

All photos by Little Print Press.

Shop Little Print Press

 

Large yellow abstract, minimal original screenprint, modern wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
Large yellow abstract, minimal original screenprint, modern wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$249.66 USD
Pink abstract screenprint, small silkscreen print, handmade on lovely paper, modern, simple wall decor by Emma Lawrenson.
Pink abstract screenprint, small silkscreen print, handmade on lovely paper, modern, simple wall decor by Emma Lawrenson.
littleprintpress
$39.14 USD
Set of TEN original screenprints. Handmade abstract minimal art, feature wall by Emma Lawrenson
Set of TEN original screenprints. Handmade abstract minimal art, feature wall by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$364.37 USD
Emma Lawrenson original silkscreen print pastel colours, Small 'eggs' abstract screenprint, handmade modern art.
Emma Lawrenson original silkscreen print pastel colours, Small 'eggs' abstract screenprint, handmade modern art.
littleprintpress
$79.62 USD
Mid Century Modern art, original screenprint, sherbet colours by Emma Lawrenson
Mid Century Modern art, original screenprint, sherbet colours by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$64.78 USD
colourful shapes modern abstract screenprint, original art, yellow, pink, orange by Emma Lawrenson
colourful shapes modern abstract screenprint, original art, yellow, pink, orange by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$87.72 USD
Seventies Orange Form, bright modern minimalist abstract print. Original screenprint, hand pulled on lovely paper by Emma Lawrenson
Seventies Orange Form, bright modern minimalist abstract print. Original screenprint, hand pulled on lovely paper by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$74.22 USD
Abstract screenprints, set eight original abstracts, small original handmade art. Fall colours, modern art by Emma Lawrenson.
Abstract screenprints, set eight original abstracts, small original handmade art. Fall colours, modern art by Emma Lawrenson.
littleprintpress
$296.90 USD
Grey Matisse inspired screenprint, handmade  original art on beautiful Italian Paper by Emma Lawrenson
Grey Matisse inspired screenprint, handmade original art on beautiful Italian Paper by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
Black and white minimal abstract screenprint, handmade, original art by Emma Lawrenson. Original British printmaking
Black and white minimal abstract screenprint, handmade, original art by Emma Lawrenson. Original British printmaking
littleprintpress
$128.21 USD
Geometric minimal original handmade screenprint. Abstract contmeporary printmaking  by Emma Lawrenson
Geometric minimal original handmade screenprint. Abstract contmeporary printmaking by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$296.90 USD
Yellow minimal original art, abstract handmade screenprint and drawing on fabriano by Emma Lawrenson
Yellow minimal original art, abstract handmade screenprint and drawing on fabriano by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$155.20 USD
Raspberry red and pink , Mid Century Modern original abstract screenprint. Modern art by Emma Lawrenson
Raspberry red and pink , Mid Century Modern original abstract screenprint. Modern art by Emma Lawrenson
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$93.12 USD
BIG Contemporary yellow abstract original screenprint. Colorblock, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
BIG Contemporary yellow abstract original screenprint. Colorblock, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$404.86 USD
Retro art, Abstract Screenprint, 70's geometric, original, handmade art. Mid Century modern, Emma Lawrenson
Retro art, Abstract Screenprint, 70's geometric, original, handmade art. Mid Century modern, Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$64.78 USD
Wall art, set of abstract handmade, original screenprints,  greys, blues, greens original art, organic forms and nature.
Wall art, set of abstract handmade, original screenprints, greys, blues, greens original art, organic forms and nature.
littleprintpress
$276.65 USD
Minimal original plant drawing screenprint, black and white modern printmaking. Scandinavian home. Leaf motif
Minimal original plant drawing screenprint, black and white modern printmaking. Scandinavian home. Leaf motif
littleprintpress
$120.11 USD
Large square, modern, original abstract, minimal handmade screenprint, colourful wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
Large square, modern, original abstract, minimal handmade screenprint, colourful wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$303.64 USD
Bauhaus inspired large indigo blue abstract, minimal original screenprint, modern wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
Bauhaus inspired large indigo blue abstract, minimal original screenprint, modern wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$267.21 USD
Feature wall art, Set of original handmade silkscreen prints, contemporary art by Emma Lawrenson. Architecture, color block, geometric set.
Feature wall art, Set of original handmade silkscreen prints, contemporary art by Emma Lawrenson. Architecture, color block, geometric set.
littleprintpress
$937.92 USD
Pastel geometric art, large, abstract,  colorblock original screenprint on Fabriano Rosaspina by Emma Lawrenson
Pastel geometric art, large, abstract, colorblock original screenprint on Fabriano Rosaspina by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$303.64 USD
Retro tangerine orange abstract screenprint. Modern, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
Retro tangerine orange abstract screenprint. Modern, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$79.62 USD
Abstract yellow original art, handmade screenprint, modern botanical by Emma Lawrenson.
Abstract yellow original art, handmade screenprint, modern botanical by Emma Lawrenson.
littleprintpress
$93.12 USD
Yellow modern wall art, abstract screenprint, original art, handmade botanical print by Emma Lawrenson
Yellow modern wall art, abstract screenprint, original art, handmade botanical print by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$114.71 USD
Fine art print, original green 'Stem' silkscreen print. Modern art by Emma Lawrenson. Mid Century modern.
Fine art print, original green 'Stem' silkscreen print. Modern art by Emma Lawrenson. Mid Century modern.
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
Large abstract screenprint by Emma Lawrenson. Modern, minimal, original art
Large abstract screenprint by Emma Lawrenson. Modern, minimal, original art
littleprintpress
$330.63 USD
Purple Screenprint, abstract, minimal. Handmade original art on quality paper. Simple, modern, fine art printmaking by Emma Lawrensn
Purple Screenprint, abstract, minimal. Handmade original art on quality paper. Simple, modern, fine art printmaking by Emma Lawrensn
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
Retro bubblegum pink abstract screenprint. Modern, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
Retro bubblegum pink abstract screenprint. Modern, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$79.62 USD
Retro green and blue abstract screenprint. Modern, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
Retro green and blue abstract screenprint. Modern, minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$79.62 USD
Blue Matisse inspired screenprint, handmade  original art on beautiful Italian Paper by Emma Lawrenson
Blue Matisse inspired screenprint, handmade original art on beautiful Italian Paper by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
Abstract botanical, original ink drawing screenprint, plants, nature. Large black and white minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
Abstract botanical, original ink drawing screenprint, plants, nature. Large black and white minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$120.11 USD
Minimal original art, abstract handmade screenprint in blue and cream on fabriano by Emma Lawrenson
Minimal original art, abstract handmade screenprint in blue and cream on fabriano by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$128.21 USD
Abstract, handmade art. Moons, original handmade screenprint, fifties, mid century modern, Miro, Hepworth by Emma Lawrenson
Abstract, handmade art. Moons, original handmade screenprint, fifties, mid century modern, Miro, Hepworth by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$128.21 USD
minimal abstract pastel blue original screenprint, Scandinavian home, contemporary art, modern print by Emma Lawrenson
minimal abstract pastel blue original screenprint, Scandinavian home, contemporary art, modern print by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$80.97 USD
Contemporary art, minimal art, abstract screenprint, abstract geometry in pinks and neutrals by Emma Lawrenson.
Contemporary art, minimal art, abstract screenprint, abstract geometry in pinks and neutrals by Emma Lawrenson.
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$236.17 USD
Pair geometric prints, contemporary screen prints, pretty colours, handmade original work on paper by Emma Lawrenson. Modern wall decor
Pair geometric prints, contemporary screen prints, pretty colours, handmade original work on paper by Emma Lawrenson. Modern wall decor
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$350.88 USD
Large geometric screenprint. Abstract screenprint, handmade original, grid, graphic, block colour modern art by Emma Lawrenson
Large geometric screenprint. Abstract screenprint, handmade original, grid, graphic, block colour modern art by Emma Lawrenson
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$236.17 USD
Large handmade abstract screenprint, blue, brown, white and dusky pink by Emma Lawrenson.
Large handmade abstract screenprint, blue, brown, white and dusky pink by Emma Lawrenson.
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$209.18 USD
simple abstract screenprint, grey minimal art by Emma Lawrenson.
simple abstract screenprint, grey minimal art by Emma Lawrenson.
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$70.18 USD
Large botanical screenprint. Modern abstract black and white minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
Large botanical screenprint. Modern abstract black and white minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$120.11 USD
Small grey abstract screenprint, handpulled, simple modern art. Original printmaking by Emma Lawrenson
Small grey abstract screenprint, handpulled, simple modern art. Original printmaking by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$39.14 USD
Screen print, small ink drawing screenprint, original modern handmade art in black and white. Simple wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
Screen print, small ink drawing screenprint, original modern handmade art in black and white. Simple wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
BIG Contemporary pastel geometric. Original abstract screenprint. Minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
BIG Contemporary pastel geometric. Original abstract screenprint. Minimal art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$526.32 USD
Yellow large abstract geometric screenprint. Simple, bold, minimal handmade original art by Emma Lawrenson
Yellow large abstract geometric screenprint. Simple, bold, minimal handmade original art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$267.21 USD
Small abstract print, original Print, modern screenprint, inspired by Matisse. Abstract modern art by Emma Lawrenson
Small abstract print, original Print, modern screenprint, inspired by Matisse. Abstract modern art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
minimal modern abstract printmaking in blue and ochre yellow by Emma Lawrenson
minimal modern abstract printmaking in blue and ochre yellow by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$87.72 USD
Abstract botanical screenprint, handmade cream, grey/blue, minimal, modern art by Emma Lawrenson. Original printmaking
Abstract botanical screenprint, handmade cream, grey/blue, minimal, modern art by Emma Lawrenson. Original printmaking
littleprintpress
$63.43 USD
minimal modern abstract printmaking in grey and green by Emma Lawrenson
minimal modern abstract printmaking in grey and green by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$87.72 USD
Mid Century Modern handmade screenprint. Square abstract art, handmade geometric by Emma Lawrenson
Mid Century Modern handmade screenprint. Square abstract art, handmade geometric by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$161.94 USD
Geometric abstract screenprint , simple modern original by Emma Lawrenson, handmade on beautiful paper.
Geometric abstract screenprint , simple modern original by Emma Lawrenson, handmade on beautiful paper.
littleprintpress
$168.69 USD
Abstract minimal spotty screenprint, handmade original art, pretty colours, gift for her, organic, modern by Emma Lawrenson
Abstract minimal spotty screenprint, handmade original art, pretty colours, gift for her, organic, modern by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$64.78 USD
Large pink abstract art, original print, screenprint, minimal, Emma Lawrenson
Large pink abstract art, original print, screenprint, minimal, Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$155.20 USD
Abstract original screenprint. A geometric print in soft muted colours, green, purple, greys and pink by Emma Lawrenson.
Abstract original screenprint. A geometric print in soft muted colours, green, purple, greys and pink by Emma Lawrenson.
littleprintpress
$267.21 USD
Mid Century Modern, original handmade screenprint, abstract, blue, minimalist art by Emma Lawrenson
Mid Century Modern, original handmade screenprint, abstract, blue, minimalist art by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$62.08 USD
1950's inspired screenprint, abstract original handmade art, fifties, mid century modern, Miro, Hepworth by Emma Lawrenson
1950's inspired screenprint, abstract original handmade art, fifties, mid century modern, Miro, Hepworth by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$168.69 USD
Set of five abstract organic silkscreenprints. Perfect for a nursery wall, pinks, greens and yellow by Emma Lawrenson
Set of five abstract organic silkscreenprints. Perfect for a nursery wall, pinks, greens and yellow by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$350.88 USD
Retro pastel handmade screenprint, a colourful original fifties inspired screenprint on beautiful Fabriano paper.
Retro pastel handmade screenprint, a colourful original fifties inspired screenprint on beautiful Fabriano paper.
littleprintpress
$87.72 USD
Black abstract minimal and modern screenprint. Great gift! Original art on beautiful Fabriano paper by Emma Lawrenson
Black abstract minimal and modern screenprint. Great gift! Original art on beautiful Fabriano paper by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$74.22 USD
Large black abstract, minimal original screenprint, square, modern wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
Large black abstract, minimal original screenprint, square, modern wall decor by Emma Lawrenson
littleprintpress
$330.63 USD
Emma Lawrenson screenprint, contemporary original art. Minimal, colorblock, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly
Emma Lawrenson screenprint, contemporary original art. Minimal, colorblock, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly
littleprintpress
$267.21 USD

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