Featured Artist: Guy Allen
Hi Guy! How long have you had your studio here, who do you share it with and what do your studio mates do?
I’ve been working as a full time artist from my Bussey Building studio since August 2014 and share the space with Emily Crookshank who is also a print maker. We are inspired by one another, bouncing ideas around the studio for approval – or just positive criticism.
How else does working alongside other artists help you?
Being around like minded creative people has been one of the best things about moving to the Bussey Building. In 2013, I was using my bedroom as a studio, while all my house mates went to work and I went mad! So moving our studio here means that I have to go to work. Treating my career like a 9 to 5 job brings routine to my job.
Since moving to the Bussey I have started to use a number of the other business here. My framers are now Peckham Pictures and I use Sunset Studio to document my work. Having these services within a stone’s throw really makes life easier as well as giving them regular work.
Tell us about your practice: How did you get into print-making and what do you love about it? What’s the most difficult part of the process?
During my degree at Central Saint Martin’s I had the fantastic opportunity to study at the École Nationale Supérieure Des Beaux-Arts in 2010. This is where I was taught to print. For the remainder of my degree, I dabbled in print making and oil painting and when I graduated, I put my full heart into my print making practice, working as an assistant print maker under Stanley Jones at the Curwen Studios in Cambridgeshire for 18 months, where I had to learn at a fast clip how to master other print making disciplines.
I am constantly pushing my practice further on every new piece, so my most recent work combines other print making disciplines, such as a screen print colour overlay, as I have always wanted to bring colour into my work as my etchings on their own are quite monochrome. Pulling the first proof is always interesting, as the original etching takes many weeks to create. Not knowing what the print is going to look like until you have proofed the plate is exciting: There’s always the risk that after six weeks of work, the end product isn’t what you wanted it to be!
After many hours of drawing, I place the copper plate into acid and allow the acid to “bite” into the copper to create the etching. In the acid, the etching can often “foul-bite” where the acid has etched unintentional marks into the plate. As long as they are not too offensive, the marks often make the final piece more interesting. I try not to waste any plates and turn a negative mark into a positive: This puts less pressure on me when drawing the original while listening to hours worth of Desert Island Discs and Just a Minute on Radio Four!
Where does your interest in depicting animals stem from?
Everyone loves animals, and throughout my degree I was often commissioned to draw clients’ animals for bread and butter. When I was taught to etch I found that animals as a subject matter and the medium of etching really lend themselves to one another. During my first London Solo exhibition with Grandy Art last year I had a positive response to my horse etchings, so this year I am focusing on the horse as a subject – although I really want to do a picture of a huge grizzle bear at some point.
Where can people find your work online and get in touch?
Visit Guy at his studio in the Bussey Building at the Open Studios this year (9-11 September)