Our latest Featured Artist is the fantastic Amy Rose Hey, a printmaker and illustrator based in Canterbury, Kent. Amy specialises in painting, graphite pencil drawing and linocut printing. Her main source of inspiration is her love for British wildlife, folklore, and women’s history. Read on to find out more…
How did you get started as an artist?
I don’t think my journey as an artist has one definite starting point. I’ve always drawn and been a creative person, from writing stories and poems as a child to illustrating my own little books. Art was always my favourite subject throughout school, leading me to study for my UAL diploma at college, then going straight on to Wimbledon College of Art where I studied BA Fine Art Painting for three years. As soon as I finished at university last year I started my journey as a self -employed artist.
What inspires you to be creative?
Growing up in the Kentish countryside has definitely influenced my creativity. A lot of the inspiration for my work comes from my love of the landscape around me, and most importantly the wildlife, folklore, and stories behind it.
I’m always collecting interestingly patterned rocks, fossils and feathers, hunting mushrooms and pressing flowers, all of which provide constant inspiration for the subjects and motifs in my artwork. I also work in a museum and art gallery – being surrounded by artwork, natural history and relics of the past definitely inspires my work.
How would you describe your creative process?
I would say my creative process is slow and therapeutic, but it can also be quite chaotic at times! I usually ruminate on an idea for a while, before sketching it out in my notebook. I then use reference images and my sketches to draw out my ideas onto lino, to turn them into a linocut printing block.
Cutting the lino is very therapeutic; I always have some tea and good music on the go. Pressing my prints is a little more chaotic but in the best way possible; I’m always covered in ink, running up and down the studio to run prints through the press, hanging prints to dry, mixing more colours and inking up my blocks!
What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
This question is so hard for me! I have always loved drawing with pencil; getting completely absorbed in creating hyper-realistic drawings was how I really got into art as a teenager. I’m also trained professionally in painting so I will always love oil paints.
Having said that, I’m now a self-taught printmaker and have been experimenting with printmaking for over a year. I especially love how relief printing allows me to explore my ideas and illustrative style, and there is always so much more to learn.
How do you tackle a blank canvas?
I sketch my ideas out several times before starting on the real thing. My work usually grows from a tiny scribble in a notebook, to a more fleshed out compositional sketch, followed by experiments using reference photos. So, by the time I draw my design out onto a blank canvas or printing block, I’m already quite confident with what I’m drawing and don’t find it too daunting!
What do you find the most challenging about the creative process?
The hardest part of the creative process is getting over the hurdles when the work isn’t turning out how I planned, and knowing when to take a break. Sometimes I spend whole days on a piece and just end up feeling frustrated. Usually I just have to trust the process, put it away for a while and maybe work on something else. When I come back to it with fresh eyes, I can almost always see the problem and fix it!
In which ways do you differentiate your work from that of other artists?
My work is directly influenced by my own interests and lived experiences, so I think subject-wise, my work is unique to me, just as my style is the combination of all the artists and makers who have ever inspired me throughout my life! A lot of my subjects focus specifically on folklore, stories, and memories from my childhood and the countryside I grew up in, so I think that element makes my work quite unique too.
What are your essential tools?
I couldn’t live without my favourite lino cutting tools! I use Pfiel tools, as the tiny blades are perfect for my intricate and sometimes fiddly designs. I use Speedball rubber brayers to roll my ink, and I always print with Cranfield Traditional oil relief inks.
The cleaning up and handling of oil inks is a little more complicated than water washable inks, but I love the traditional methods of printing with them. The quality of colour and crisp lines is definitely worth the little bit of extra time spent cleaning up.
How would you describe your studio/workspace?
I have two different workspaces for different stages of my creative process. I draw, paint, and make my lino blocks inside at my desk. I try to keep this area as tidy as possible, as this part of the process is more relaxing and therapeutic for me.
I then press my prints outside in my garden workshop. Because of the mess of oil inks, and occasional use of solvents, it’s better to print outside in a ventilated area. In the workshop, I have my antique etching press and a long table with a glass surface where I ink up my blocks.
Any tips for preparing a portfolio?
I would say try to be selective, and choose artwork which most represents your current style, whilst demonstrating a range of skills. Try to keep a theme going between each piece, whether that’s the inspiration for the work or the style and medium. Most importantly, choose recent work that you felt passionate about making, so that you can have a good discussion about it if asked.
Do you have a favourite art tip that you can share with our readers?
A: Definitely keep an open mind to trying new things and expanding your skillbase. Having the ability to jump between mediums and work flexibly is so important as an artist, and you never know where a new skill might take you and what opportunities it may present. Also, never stop sketching!
Where can our readers find out more about you?
I’m very active on Instagram, I blog my creative thoughts and processes almost daily. I have a website where you can find out a bit more about me and purchase prints via my online shop. I have recently become a verified member of People Of Print, where you will soon be able to read articles about my work or the next big project I’m working on, via their website and social media.