Meet printmaker Kate Brooks
Kate Brooks is a printmaker based in Derbyshire who creates original hand-pulled screen prints based on the views, countryside and landscape surrounding her. Here she talks to fellow Folksy maker, Lucy from MatildaBelle Ceramics about her winding journey to printmaking and why she doesn’t have to venture far from her door for inspiration…
I am so happy to have finally found an outlet for my creativity. I love the whole process of creating a print and the joy when everything comes together.Kate Brooks, printmaker
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us what you make?
Hi, I’m Kate and I’m a printmaker who designs and makes hand-pulled screen prints inspired by the countryside of Derbyshire where I live. I also have a complementary range of digitally-printed greetings cards printed on recycled card.
Tell us about your creative journey. What led you to print?
Mine is a very drawn-out creative journey. I graduated from college with an HND in Fashion in 1993. I discovered that I pretty much hated the fashion part but loved designing textiles. It was here that I was first introduced to screen printing and working in a print studio.
As part of my final year catwalk show, the theme of which I chose ’50s swimwear, I designed and printed all my own fabric, which I loved. I went on to do a degree in Surface Decoration but, regrettably, didn’t make things happen and I found it easier to earn a living doing office work.
After spending many years in jobs that frankly were probably very unsuited to me, it means so much to get to this point where I have my little business and am selling my art.Kate Brooks, printmaker
I always had the latent desire to do something creative, and dabbled in painting and designing wedding invites. However, about seven years ago, things fell into place when I did a weekend screen-printing course in Sheffield. I was hooked all over again and have been screen printing ever since.
I can see in your work that you are inspired by the world around you. I’d love to know more about that…
My prints generally begin with a local walk with my dog Budleigh. My phone camera is packed with images of sky, flowers, views and trees that I photograph on our walks. I love being outdoors and observing the way the ever-changing nature of light shifts through the seasons and transforms the colours within a scene. I don’t tend to need to venture too far and most of my prints are inspired from an area within three miles of where I live.
I don’t need to venture too far and most of my prints are inspired from an area within three miles of where I live.Kate Brooks, printmaker
How did you develop your style?
I love using colour, and screen printing enables me to create my own, often vibrant, colour palette. My style of drawing is quite naïve and my earlier designs even more so. When I was learning to screen print, I stuck to very simple designs with no more than three colours.
Although I do still try to stick to a small number of layers, I now incorporate overlaying colours and am still trying to master the ‘split fountain’, which enables me to mix together two or three colours to create gradients.
I’ve also recently started using Procreate which has been a game changer and has helped to streamline my design process. I think my style is likely to evolve as I learn new printing techniques, however I’m not sure my colour palette will change too much – I really struggle to work with a more muted colour palette.
I mainly print from home in my small garden studio. It’s a pretty basic set-up, with an old bath standing next to it where I wash out my screens with a garden hose in the summer!Kate Brooks, printmaker
Where do you work? Do you have a studio?
I’m really lucky because there is a small screen-printing studio, Little Canyon in Wirksworth, 15 minutes from where I live. I prepare my screens there but mainly print from home in my small garden studio. It’s a pretty basic set-up, with an old bath standing next to it where I wash out my screens with a garden hose in the summer!
Are you or would you like to be a full-time printmaker?
I’m a part-time printmaker with aspirations to go full-time one day. I have to begrudgingly accept that now is not the time to take such a big step in these uncertain times. I also have two children who are of the age to go to university in the near future and I want to be able to help support them financially.
I constantly question whether I could make a living if I went full-time. Knowing me, I would be so excited to have the luxury of being a full-time printmaker and pursuing all the ideas I have that I would spend too much time creating and not enough time on the business side of things, which is, of course, equally if not more important.
Certainly, I would love to make a living printmaking, however it is head over heart at the moment! Hopefully in the next five years…
What does creativity give to you as a person?
I am so happy to have finally found an outlet for my creativity. I love the whole process of creating a print – from taking photos, to capturing a good colour combination, designing, mixing colours and the printing itself… and the joy when everything comes together in that final test print!
After spending many years in jobs that frankly were probably very unsuited to me, it means so much to get to this point where I have my little business and am selling my art. Above all, being creative has given me greater confidence as a person and as an artist.
On another note, I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible when producing my work, using recycled products wherever possible. Over the last couple of years, to try to offset the production of digitally printing my cards, I have also donated a small percentage of my card sales to the World Land Trust. So far, I have managed to donate enough money to purchase over 8 acres of land in their ‘Buy an acre’ programme, which protects the wildlife within that habitat forever. It feels good to be doing something useful to help protect the planet.
You are never too old to start your creative journey. Life gets in the way sometimes, so bide your time and hopefully you will find your creative path.Kate Brooks, printmaker
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow their creative ambitions?
If you are ready to start selling your work, visit artist and maker events to learn where your work is better suited; a lot of events have reduced fees for beginners too. Show your work! Share your journey on social media if that is your thing, but be careful not to compare your beginning with another maker’s middle. Oh and, of course, start selling on Folksy!
As I have discovered, you are never too old to start your creative journey. Life gets in the way sometimes, so bide your time and hopefully you will find your creative path.
Meet the interviewer
Kate Brooks was talking to Lucy from MatildaBelle Ceramics, maker of ceramic buttons, statement jewellery and homeware based in North Yorkshire.
Shop MatildaBelle Ceramics – https://folksy.com/shops/MatildaBelle
Read more about Lucy in her Meet the Maker interview – Meet the Maker: MatildaBelle Ceramics
Watch Lucy talk about her own creative inspiration here – https://youtu.be/yI62kQg5cg4