Fool’s Prints 1 year on

2 Jan

It’s a year ago now that I quit my job to pursue a life of printing and playwork. All in all it’s been a pretty good year.

I started the year screen printing my first ever greetings cards printed using a drawing fluid and screen blocker stencil. I set to work on several card commissions for weddings, engagements and leaving presents. And soon I got to work on my first mass batch of birthday cards. They were printed with the wrong screen, with the wrong paint but none the less, considering I was teaching myself as I went along, I did pretty well to print 50+ 2 colour layer cards in my bedroom.

Each card or project I worked on was a steep learning curve. I made quick progress.

In March I posted pictures of t-shirts I’d designed several years ago. Since then the picture of Subcomandante Marcos has been a massive hit. That post has had over 100 visitors and the picture is right up there in Google image searches for Marcos stencils. So for all those searching for a great stencil of Marcos, you can now print it out from the Making Cuts page.

I then embarked on a series of custom t-shirts. Also a steep learning curve. There was the very popular ‘If I can’t dance it’s not my revolution’ t-shirts, followed by the less successful Whitechapel Anarchist Group t-shirts. From these I learned that printing white on black is nowhere near as easy as black on white, especially when you are still not using the right paint! WAG’s I promise to embark on a new round of t-shirts in 2011…that wont wash off!

Swiftly after that, I went back to what I knew and did a reprint of the original birthday cards, better all round but still with the wrong kind of screen.

I also set up my little online shop hosted by Folksy. It had a fair amount of clicks but only one customer. Folksy is great for enabling makers to get their stuff out there, but it is new and pretty small. Nowhere near as well known as its American cousin Etsy. I’m going to look into better online selling type stuff in 2011. Anyone got any good tips?

In April, election fever started. With my first wholesale order of blank t-shirts came local housing protests and a too true slogan from Emma Goldman. There’s still lots of those t-shirts left in all different sizes and colours. If you’re interested leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

In May the parliamentary fate of the country was sealed. Votes were counted and we were left with the Con-Dem government, who’ve begun the biggest attacks on public services for decades. With cuts to local services already promised, the fight back began.

That month I was uplifted by receiving a copy of Kerrie Jane Stritton’s Crowded Skies graphic novel. Beautiful. I look forward to receiving the Tempest. I’ll review it on here when I do.

Spring saw a burst of marriage proposals and weddings. I got to work custom making cards and printing this very special t-shirt for John and Kim.

I started work for the brilliant Hackney Playbus. I love that bus! I look forward to another spring and summer of play.

June saw the hijacking of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which kicked off protest across the country. And I got to work making t-shirts for the Wreck Collective’s visit to Glastonbury.

The summer saw less Fool’s prints work as I became a full-time Playworker for the holidays. But I also attended a  print workshop and a book binding workshop at East London Printmakers’ Studios. ELP is a brilliant place. I absolutely recommend it for courses and their Open Access facility is brilliant. It has helped me progress no end. Everything from what type of screen to use when, how to line up colour layers properly, how to use photo emulsion and how to make amazing hand bound books. Couldn’t have done this year without them!

Autumn saw a renewed burst of printing energy and skill. I make my first leaflet design, printed t-shirts for charity in aid of the flood victims in Pakistan, and created a new birthday card design, this time with 3 colour layers.

I got to work producing some note cards and gained more confidence in experimenting and learning in the print studio. Confidence led me to register as Self-Employed!

In October I published a post called ‘What is Playwork Anyway?’ which took me by surprise by attracting LOADS of views. It turns out that it had been in the SkillsActive enews bulletin! (Thanks for letting me know Lisa).

I ordered my first bulk load of aprons and set to work thinking what to print on them and got stuck into more anti-cuts protest.

November brought the inevitable beginning of Christmas-type activities, the aprons were printed, the Christmas cards where prepared. By December I was in full Christmas mode. I made loads of beautiful retro notebooks and hauled my heavy stock to stalls at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and Brick Lane.

In November and December I made my first monthly profits! (£5 and £30). Overall I’m still in deficit but what a great way to end the year.

BIG THANK YOU to all those who encouraged and inspired me. To all those who I am pleased to call customers, friends, family and fellow Fools. Follow your dreams in 2011. Lets fight these cuts together.


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