Friday Furrow 1: Why-O-Why Linocut?

Eff Dugly

Friday, April 17, 2015

"So how are you gonna write about some obscure craft that I did at school and make it sound interesting and convince me that its real art?” I hear you ask?!

I quite honestly don’t know but apparently I’ve got to keep this website current by updating it regularly otherwise the google bots will ignore it and I will languish at the bottom of the search listing for “linocut print” for ever more… and never sell a thing!

But I will have a go at being interesting though, cos I love a challenge and if I’m the only one that ever reads this I’d still like to think I did myself justice :) 

So I’ll start by telling you about why-o-why linocut pleases me:

1. Linocut lends itself to Bold, blocky designs 

Personally I like art that uses line and form to create interesting perspective and design aesthetics.  Call me anal but I like things to be clean and well delineated.  I like to deconstruct a composition and pare it down to its most expressive elements,  leaving out what i would consider superfluous subtleties of tone and detail. Linocut positively demands this type of thinking: including too much detail into a linocut design is demoralising job for the artist and usually unnecessary.  A far more rewarding challenge is try to suggest shapes and colour in a more minimalist way to capture the backbone of a composition and make it pleasing to the palette.

Of course my old art teacher would say that I should let go and be freer, more spontaneous - a bit messy.  This may suit some and I admire those that can make a loose but meaningful image with a cutter and some linoleum but personally I say.. f*ck that.

2. Cool tools 

So my favourite cutting tool is Jemima Cuttycut who is a no.11/1 Pfeil and I once had a worrying day when I couldn’t find her any anywhere.  She’d fallen down the back of the work bench and during her absence I felt shamefully bereft.  I know, I need to get a life.. but the cutting of linoleum with such a tool brings me warm happiness.  I have other different size Pfeils and I recommend them all but Jemima is the only one that I’ve named.  

3. Surprise surprise!

Now I know I said I like my design to be clean and well delineated but you never really know what the final print will look like until you pull the paper back.  You have finally honed your design, committed it to lino and spent a considerable time cutting it out.  So when you finally commit paper to ink and pull it back to find that you accidentally cut out a big part (like a whole hand!) that you shouldn’t have, it can be tool-slammingly frustrating to say the least.  But the smug self-satisfaction of getting it right and good compels me to try try and try again.