Melanie Wickham is a print maker based in Bristol. Her wonderfully warm and humorous prints are filled with animals, birds, allotments and the environment around her. Melanie very kindly took the time to answer a few questions about her work and inspiration. I hope you enjoy her work as much as i do, more information can be found on her website and blog.
What is your background?
I have always been a 'drawer' since I was tiny and when I went to college it was to study Illustration at UWE Bristol. My time there was a little bit aimless as I didn't really have a clear style for producing finished work where drawing was not the answer - until I discovered printmaking properly - right in the last two terms...ggrrrr.
When I left college I didn't want to spend money on equipment or a studio and started lino printing at home, on the kitchen table, just as a way to keep printing really, whilst working part-time in local art galleries, musical instrument shops, pubs, all kinds of fun jobs!
Over time, with interruptions from children, my lino printing has built up and I'm now really happy with the amount of printing I do and the balance of my week!
What mediums do you work with?
Drawing and lots of lino printing.
I love drawing and enjoy both working from life and doing crazy doodles from my imagination.
What other work do you do?
I work for a couple of days each week at our local museum, which is half museum and half art gallery. I really enjoy working there; interesting things are always going on and I also find it a great source of inspiration - especially all the weird and wonderful things that go on behind the scenes. There are some amazing collections in the basement...
How do you market yourself?
I don't do a great deal of marketing... cards at exhibitions and art fairs, an online blog and website and occasional flurries of approaching galleries with my images. Word of mouth works well for me and also the fantastic art galleries and craft shops that stock my work do such good work in putting my pictures in front of new people who I would never otherwise find (some have sold my work for over 10 years now).
Where do you sell and exhibit?
I do a few local art and craft fairs each year and also have work in galleries around England and Wales. I've also branched out into tea towels and canvas bags with my images on in the last couple of years and sell these in shops as well as on Folksy, although my shop there has only just opened and needs lots more stock!
How do you see your work developing?
I am really happy printmaking and love getting unusual commissions from people - currently an eco-shop logo, but I have just finished a picture of a man feeding Brazil nuts to seagulls next to some cranes at the docks...
I love the challenge of coming up with new ideas and images that work well and don't feel like I've finished with lino yet - maybe one day I'll even try a colour...
Who are your heroes?
My art heroes are many and ever changing - I admire all who can make a living from their creativity and love the determination and dedication that people will pour into their work, especially in the early days of their art careers when there isn't a clear way ahead or easy way to balance their creativity with daily life.
I look at all kinds of artists' work and am often drawn to painters, maybe it's the colour palette...an artist who I have gone back to over many years is Squeak Carnwath,
but also a lot of illustrators. One of my favourites is Kveta Tacovska, whose work is not easy to find online, but it is there and well worth a good search (http://images.google.com/images?q=Květa%20Pacovská&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=1024&bih=591) - I love her marks, layouts, colours, use of space, typography, playfulness....well everything really. And my children have loved her books too (or have I just insisted we read them regularly because I want to!)
If you could steal one piece from a gallery what would it be?
I think one of Edward Bawdens series of lino prints advertising the London Underground - I have some posters of them at home but would be really really happy to replace them with an original.
What books and blogs can't you live without?
The books that have influenced my work the most are:
Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey
Mrs Byrnes Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz Byrne
Ladybird Books History Series
I cannot count the number of ideas that have come from reading these, although my thought process may be slightly abstract and if I have a 'block' an hour curled up with one of these soon gets me thinking again.
There are so many great blogs and I love spending an evening catching up with my favourites but how could I choose even a few? I am constantly amazed by what people are doing in blog world and it is such a great way to connect with other artists and see work from around the world.