How To… Find Inspiration

As the summer holidays are shortly to end, I’ve been getting prepared for the next round of workshops coming up at Slamseys. I think of September as the start of the new year and so it seemed a good time to launch our new printmaking short courses. First up we have two five-week printmaking courses where we explore and experiment with different types of printmaking including mono-printing, variations on screen printing, drypoint, lino & more. Getting everything ready has got me thinking about how to encourage new students to come up with ideas for their printmaking projects.

Thornback and Peel Pigeon & Jelly

Last (school) year a lot of my projects had a focus on nature and animals because I was working towards our 2015 summer theme of ‘the natural world’. After months printing owls, leaves, stags & bugs I feel like I’m ready to move onto a new topic. I know that next summer’s arts events will relate somehow to food and kitchens, although nothing firm has been decided yet, but I’m wondering if I can link this idea with my new printmaking projects.

I definitely find it easier to come up with design motifs when I have a broad theme like ‘nature’ or ‘food’ in mind, as it focuses my attention when I find there’s too much to choose from. How you choose your theme is up to you – below are some ideas for searching out inspiration and ideas.

Printing inspired by The Natural World
Printing inspired by The Natural World


  1. Be inspired: Research and visit local galleries and art centres, houses and gardens, to see what exhibitions and events they have on. Use some of the topics explored by those artists to develop your own ideas.
  2. Scrapbook: Flick through magazines and newspapers – tear out anything that stands out to you and put it into a folder. It could be something tiny or the overall idea of something. If you keep all these ideas together you can refer back to them at a later date and see what develops. See if there are any themes that repeat themselves throughout your collection. Make use of free websites like Pinterest – you can pin all of your ideas onto different boards, which is a great way to bookmark websites to visit again, or keep design ideas close at hand. The only downside to this is that you don’t then have a hard copy to work from, so make sure you print out any ideas that you know you’ll want to work from in the future.
  3. Record: When you next go out and about, make sure you take your sketchbook or camera with you to jot down and capture ideas as you go. The drawings and ideas don’t have to be perfect or fully formed – they’re just there to remind you for later projects.
  4. Time: Make sure that you allocate yourself time to develop your ideas – great design ideas don’t happen all by themselves so make sure that you spend time doodling and practising designs. Often once you’ve tested out a few ideas in print you’ll know how you want the design to progress.
  5. Experiment: Finally – don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s unlikely that the first thing you print will be perfect, so play around with the design, experiment with colour, add textures and alternate techniques. Think of each design idea as a project, not as a finished thing.

You might like to work on several different themes at once and may even be surprised at how they can come together. For example designs by Thornback & Peel mixed rabbits with cabbages and pigeons with jelly.

Here’s a few of my favourite print designers to get you started, look on my Pinterest boards for more ideas.

  1. Thornback and Peel
  2. Angie Lewin
  3. Jessica Hogarth
  4. Andrea Lauren
  5. Sally Payne
Angie Lewin Hedgerow Design

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s