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Meet the Maker: Fran Wood

Thursday, January 04, 2018


Hi, my name is Fran Wood and I'm a London based designer specialising in screen printing. I work from home, which is a small flat in central north London, where I live with my partner and son. I have worked in studios as both a graphic designer and textile designer, as well as working in education. My first practical experience of screen printing was on a short course three years ago, where I instantly fell in love with the process. So much so, I gave up my job to work part-time so that I could focus on creating and printing designs. I also set up an online shop called Fran Wood Design to give me an outlet to display and sell my work.


Describe your printmaking process

I start by doing sketches inspired by topics I'm interested in, such as vintage cat illustrations. I use Pinterest as an online scrapbook to collect images and ideas for these topics. Once I'm completely happy with a sketch, I usually cut it from paper by hand. I then scan it to the computer and finalise it in Photoshop. At this point the image is ready to be exposed to a screen, but I don't have the space to do this at home, so I get them professionally produced. I'm now ready to print! For this I have a wooden board with two hinge clamps fixed to it at one end. I place this board on the kitchen table and use the hinge clamps to attach the screen to it. I then place a piece of clear acetate to the board and attach it with tape on one side. I do the first print on to the acetate, as this allows me to line-up the following pieces of paper correctly, by placing the first piece under the acetate and adjusting it so it's in the right position for printing. I use masking tape on the board, at the corners of the first piece paper, to mark where the next sheets should go. After printing, I clean the equipment in the kitchen sink and shower.


How and where did you learn to print?

I learnt to screen print about three years ago, on a Saturday morning course at a local college. This course was great, as it was based on showing you how to screen print at home. Once I'd completed the course, I thought I knew how to screen print, but soon realised after trying at home on my own, that I had a long way to go! Over the past couple of years, there's been much trial and error. I've watched a lot of You Tube tutorials and looked at screen printing blogs for tips. I'm now at a level where I'm fairly happy with printing on to paper, but still feel there's plenty more to learn.


Why printmaking?

Although I have a great love of art and design in all its forms, I've always preferred the results of images created by print. I especially love screen prints, linocuts and woodcuts. There's something incredibly magical about the process. I never tire of the moment after squeegeeing the ink through the screen, then lifting the screen up to reveal the image transferred to paper.


Where do you work?

I work at home. I do the printing itself in the kitchen and I dry my prints wherever I can - on shelves, on a clothes airer, or any free space I can find. I'll definitely be investing in a print drying rack in early 2018! I have a desk and computer in the living room where I create the designs. It's a difficult space to work in because it's so small, but I've managed to overcome this, as I love designing and printing so much. I hope one day to be able to work in my own dedicated studio space.


Describe a typical day in your studio

I suppose that there isn't a typical day as each one varies. For example, in the run up to Christmas I was completing online orders, packing and sending my products to shops, as well as preparing for Christmas markets. At other times of the year I'll be designing, printing and updating my online shop. I prefer to screen print mid-morning and early afternoons, as I like to use natural light from the windows to check the screens for blockages.


How long have you been printmaking?

Although I've had an interest in printmaking all of my adult life, I've only been seriously screen printing for about three years.

What inspires you?

So much inspires me it's hard to know where to start. In terms of print, my earliest inspirations were from printed African textiles as I love the bold patterns and colours. I'm also a fan of both mid century and 1970s graphics and textiles. Over the last couple of years I've been particularly inspired by Scandinavian and Eastern European design, especially Eastern European matchbox labels.


What is your favourite printmaking product?

I don't have one favourite print making product, I have three: hinge clamps, screens and squeegees. This is because these three items combined, have enabled me to do something I love - screen printing at home!


What have you made that you are most proud of?

In the last few months it's been my Nouveau Elephant rainbow coloured screen print. This is because I used six colours simultaneously whilst printing, to create the gradient coloured rainbow effect. This was very difficult, made more so by the fact the print is quite small - only being A4. After printing, I felt as though I'd really achieved something.


Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

I have an online shop called Fran Wood Design. I also sell at seasonal local markets, such as E17 Designers, based in Walthamstow. I have a selection of my prints and products in a few shops, including the Vestry Museum in Walthamstow, Casper in Bristol and The Bowery in Leeds.



What will we be seeing from you next?

I'm very excited about 2018. Much of the past couple of years has been spent getting the screen printing to a level I'm happy with. Now I feel more confident, my main intention is to create artwork inspired by new topics and to expand my screen printing onto paper. I can't wait!


Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

When I was studying graphic design, the lead tutor on the course once said that to succeed in design, you have to be like 'a dog with a bone'. I think this is true of printmaking or anything creative. In order to get where you want, you have to keep going and not let anything put you off.


Catch up with Fran Wood below:

Online shop: www.franwooddesign.etsy.com

Twitter: @franwooddesign

Instagram: @franwooddesign

Facebook: www.facebook.com/franwooddesign

Pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/franwood7