Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work…What sort of prints do you make?
I am Hannah McVicar and I produce colourful floral and botanical screenprints that I exhibit internationally and throughout the country.
Are you solely a printmaker or do you work in any other creative fields?
I am an Illustrator and Printmaker, I produce floral illustrations for books, magazines, greeting cards and packaging. My illustrations were recently compared to William Morris in a review in the New York Times.
I have worked for a variety of clients including The Times Newspaper, Gardens Illustrated magazine and Ebury Publishing.
What is your earliest recollection of making a print and what made you to want to do more?
My first memory of producing a screenprint was at Girl Guides. We had to cut an image out of a waxed transfer that was applied to the screen and then we screenprinted our image on to a t-shirt. I of course had drawn a flower but then I was only 10 at the time.
It was whilst I was studying at Falmouth College of Art that I really started to explore all areas of printmaking. I spent my first year experimenting with relief printmaking, in my second year I was really interested in aquatints, but it was in my final year that I branched out into screenprinting, where I started to experiment with colour.
What inspires you and are there any themes or ideas that often run through your work?
I am often asked why do I just concentrate on plants and flowers. Many believe that it is because of my upbringing around plants, visiting botanical gardens and RHS Flower shows. And yes this has had a massive influence on me. I do not think many people of my age can state that they have been to 20 RHS Chelsea flower shows. I have had the privilege of being able to walk around the showground at 7am in the morning before the gates open. The floral marquee is full of exhibits and plants from all over the world, thousands and thousands of prize winning specimens. The colour and smell is intense. Every year I find a new plant that inspires me. People may find me crazy but I like to imagine the plants as characters, dancing with one another within a garden. I think nature is amazing and the more I research the more I admire the variety of plants there are in this world.
Could you give us an insight into where you work – your studio/workspace and where you print?
I am very fortunate to be apart of two studios within Bristol. I have a studio space at Jamaica Street Studios where I produce all of my designs and illustrations and I am also a member of Spike Print Studio. I first joined Spike Print studio in 2004 and then after a brief period of working in America, I rejoined in 2007. This print studio is one of the main reasons why I have stayed in Bristol. Not only is it an amazing facility but it also contains some of the best printmakers in Britain, who inspire and encourage me with my work.
It is more of an era than one particular artist, I have always been influenced by the books, publications and prints produced in the 1980’s – Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen to name a few. There is a beauty and romance to their work.
But the artist, who has had the biggest impact on me, is my great Grandfather Thomas Lowinsky.
Printmaking is made up of lots of different processes, which aspect do you enjoy the most?
It is the process of creating a screenprinting that excites me. You can never quite tell how the stencils will work and how the colours will react to one another. I love to use tints and transparent colours that I layer to create depth and texture.
Do you have a favourite tool or something you find invaluable when printing?
Magnets - when I am proofing or just working out my colour combinations, I will magnet up the print on the wall and walk away from it. When I am printing I am very close to my work but this is not how someone else will view it, so I like to hang it up and walk to the other side of the room, if it draws me in then I know it is right.
Can you share a little printing trick or secret with us?
Florescent pink is the secret ingredient to most of my colours that I mix.
How would you like to develop your printmaking skills in the future?
I have always been very ambitious with my prints, with more layers and colours and bigger compositions. Since my exhibition in Japan, I have been approaching botanical gardens throughout England about producing a series of prints influenced by the planting combination within their gardens. I really want to push my colour combinations with brighter and bolder prints.
Which printed publication do you most look forward to thumbing through?
It is slightly biased of me but I do enjoy reading Gardens Illustrated magazine, it contains the best garden photography.
Monochrome or multi-coloured?
A young Hannah McVicar at Thomas Lowinsky’s retrospective exhibition,
Tate Britain, 1990.
Wow! Thanks for that insight into your wonderful botanical works, it's really great to know how much time, effort and skill goes into making your complex and highly desirable prints. Great to know you also hold the local record for visits to the Chelsea Flower Show. Its been a pleasure having your work in the shop.
Hannah's screen prints will be on sale in the print shop until the end of the final volume, there's an excellent range of her works so pop down and take a look for yourselves.
The Print Shop
Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm
Sun 11am - 5pm