Q&A with Alex Payne

Q. We’re here today talking to Alex Payne. Tell me how it all started?
A. Weymouth, where I’m from. Classic Seaside town, beautiful place, but not much going on. Not much culture, lots of heroin. So I started skateboarding as an outlet for creativity and staying away from drugs and nutters basically. I started to discover skateboard graphics and got really into that while I was at school and started looking more into art and artists, the people who’d drawn graphics and designs for skateboards. When I was at school I started drawing and getting seriously into it. Went to Weymouth College doing a BTEC in Art and Design there, which was well good, I have to say. I did everything in that course, it was two years. Doing a graphic design project, print making, drawing, observational drawing…

Q. A bit like an Art Foundation?
A. Yes. You don’t have to do a foundation if you’ve done a BTEC to go to Uni, but I didn’t do that. I wanted to get out. So I went to Kingston University. Wanted to go to Camberwell but they wouldn’t have me, thanks guys! The collage king there would have enjoyed my company. Can’t remember his name and don’t want to name drop anyway. So went to Kingston, it was awful. Did a year and a half there before deciding to give up because the tutor there said I might as well just be drawing in my bedroom. So I left just after I got a large chunk of my student loan, kept that and went off travelling around Europe with that, soon after falling in love, and then came back with my love and that was it really, that was my education. Taught myself after that.

Q. You went to the University of Life?
A. I went to the University of Life? Yes. I don’t regret going to University though because it taught me what I didn’t want to do, so I pretty much knew I didn’t want to be a commercial illustrator as soon as I stepped through the door.

Q. So how did you get from there to here?
A. When I left Uni I had this realisation that I wanted to keep making art but I didn’t want to get a real job, so I wanted to do a creative job. I was getting tattooed quite a lot at the time in London and got really into it, so I decided to start tattooing. Because I was like, aha! I can get money from, essentially, drawing this way, and it’s not as impossible really as becoming an illustrator or doing a commercial art job. So I moved back to Weymouth because I lived in the kitchen of my friend’s house for quite a while living off supernoodles. Which was good, but I think I needed to move on from there. So I moved back to Weymouth because a guy down there gave me a job in a tattoo shop and taught me pretty much what I wanted to know which was great. Sort of full-time, almost. Being a seaside town there was a lot of stuff to do. All sort of nutters basically, crazy people. So that was good, interesting, and Harriet, [my partner,] moved down there for a year with me. But then I said we’ve got to get out of here man, but I don’t really like anywhere in the UK so where can we go? So we decided to come to Norwich because my sister had come here for Uni, she’s been for I don’t know how long, six or seven years? So I’d been visiting and kind of liked it so we moved here.

Q. So maybe you should tell me next about Exit Press?
A. That started in Weymouth doing riso when I moved back there with Harriet. I started doing a lot more drawing for myself again, after focussing on tattooing for a couple of years, I didn’t do any of it with my own artwork. So then I got back into it and got quite inspired and wanted to do some riso printing. I got in touch with a bunch of studios to print some zines and it was well expensive and I had a bit of money at the time from tattooing, I had like 500 quid kicking around and I was like well, I could spend 350 getting a zine printed or buy my own printer. So I’ll do that and I did. That arrived and I had lots of fun messing around with it and it sort of went from there really. I thought I could produce editions and zines for other people and that would be really fun, just release it. I didn’t do any commercial printing for about a year after having started Exit Press, I was a publisher. Then moved up to Norwich, needed a job again, so Exit Press became a commercial printer as well as a publisher in order for me to have a job. With the idea and intention that it wouldn’t be as expensive for artists and students and stuff as it was when I got quotes from people originally because not everyone can say ‘oh yes I’ll spend 350 quid on a zine from a printer. So I thought I have this opportunity to make this stuff and have this machine now so I can offer this for less money so it’s more accessible to people.

Q. So that brings us to Print to the People. How did you hear about them?
A. I heard of Print to the People originally because of my sister living up here before I moved up. She said ‘look at these cool prints I’ve got, these people do this open access printing thing’. So I was like, nice I’ll check that out. So I’d heard about it through various people, I met Toby at the Norwich Zine Fair and he was like ‘I work at Print to the People man’ [and I met you as well [referring to Paul]. The first time I ever went to the building was because of an open Halloween thing and thought this is a good opportunity to go there while there’s other people as it wouldn’t be so embarrassing as me knocking on the door and saying ‘Hey guys! What’s up?’

Q. And you became Mr Riso?
A. I moved out of my studio, because it was leaking, you guys were doing riso as well as me and we teamed up I suppose. I brought one of my machines in and run a commercial printing press from the riso room at Print to the People as well as running courses with the great Toby Rampton for the public to enjoy.

Q. Let’s go back to the skating because you said someone sponsors you to skate. Is that still the case?
A. I think so. I’m not sure. ‘James! I asked you for a board ages ago, where is it?’ I wish this was on the radio.

Q. So you still skate, obviously?
A. I do yes, though I’ve been quite slack through a back injury, which is a nightmare, that I got last year. I do do it, but I can’t do it quite as often as I’d like at the moment. But we’re getting there. I’m sort of sponsored by Horse Skate Co

Q. What are you working on now?
A. I did a show called ‘Something’ with, again, the great Toby Rampton, love of my life Harriet and sexual deviant Sam Avery and it was a great success. And that has sparked inspiration for a quite a few new things. I’d quite like to do a series of screen prints and other drawings and might possibly get the watercolours out, but we’ll see. Most of the work for that show was made in a week after a walking trip on the north Norfolk coast, which I found incredibly inspiring and it was kind of a sketch book show for me in the fact that it was all these ideas I got when I was away that I want to develop on and come up with some more finalised work to show again. Maybe as a solo show? If anyone would like to get me a gallery in London so I can make it big?

Q. You did say you were trying new techniques like letterpress?
A. I was experimenting quite a bit with letterpress and with Letraset. Trying to figure out how to add a graphic communicative element to the work sometimes, but I’m not really sure how, not sure I like it that much.

Q. Is that your Letraset?
A. It was one I found in the bin, well, the collage box. And that collage box has been quite inspiring lately, been delving in there a bit.

Q. And that is the next question, what inspires you?
A. I found a book in there the other day called ‘Confessions of an English Maid’. Which is unbelievable. All sorts of vintage pornography and writings from an anonymous author about her sexual experience as an English maid. That’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen. It hasn’t directly inspired my work, but has inspired my life.

Q. What artists do you admire or get inspiration from?
A. I’m going to answer this cryptically, if that’s alright. One of my biggest pet peeves in life, in the world is when people look at a piece of artwork and say ‘oh it reminds me of so and so’ and I want to stab them in the eye, it really is the worst thing ever. Obviously it’s human nature to look at something and be inspired by it and accidentally copy elements of the persons work subconsciously, so by mentioning my favourite artists people might be like ‘well he’s ripped them off’. So I’m not sure I want to give you a list of artists, but alright. Basically Nigel Peak is the king. I got into him as a contemporary illustrator, one of the first I ever discovered. And that sort of changed the game for me as how to look at the world and look at various things and objects. So he’s always a massive inspiration for me as a modern artist. He’s also an architect. And there are also the classics, like Picasso, Miro, Matisse. All of those guys, really good. Also Bill Daniel. He’s made films, he’s a photographer. He used to photograph punk bands in the early-eighties I think. He made this film ‘Who Is Bozo Texino?’ which is a sort of looking for the most prolific rail-riding hobos in North America. Which is amazing and inspiring as an anthropological documentary, looking at all these different lives and with people trying to discover where he is and if he even existed. Probably the one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. But Bill Daniel is pretty rad and I believe he now lives in a sort of shack in the desert somewhere in America photographing sea levels or something.

Q. Let’s talk about your process, how you create something. Are you a sketchbook person? You clearly collage.
A. I never used to be a sketchbook person, I never used them until I was about eighteen and now they’re everywhere. My process usually starts with me taking photographs. So I’ll go off on an adventure, or a walk, or think about something and get some idea and go about photographing all sorts of stuff. Whether it’s natural landscape or, with this project, structures in the landscape or just various compositions that you see around the street or more urban settings with buildings, colours. So I go out and collect all these things in the way of photographs and then figure it out as a theme for work. I always do a series not a single thing. It always has to be a set. I think about something, walk about, take loads of photos, do sketch book stuff. It goes from there. The medium depends on what the subject matter is.

Q. You use real film in your camera?
A. Yeah. For more immediate things I use my phone. If you see something you like and don’t have a camera at the time I just take photo on my phone. I’ve been using film for maybe four years now but film photography is just my own thing and doesn’t go on Instagram yet, but it might in the future as I’m getting quite confident with it now.

Q. How do you deal with creative blocks?
A. Go mental. No, hang on. It’s a weird one and doesn’t happen so often now because I’m not so depressed since I started taking Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. I’m a bit happier and creative blocks don’t happen as much and it they do I take a walk.

Q. Do you collect anything?
A. I have a book obsession, which is becoming unhealthy. A few skateboards, though I’ve whittled it down a lot when we moved up here, mainly because I didn’t have any money and had too much stuff, so sold a few. But kept my favourites.

Q. Where do you sell your work?
A. Online shop and if I do an art fair.

Q. You also do the Physics Company? Tell me about that.
A. The Physics Company is an outlet for artistic ideas that I have that crossover somewhere between tattooing and illustration I guess. And I didn’t want the two to creep together. So I started this as a clothing brand. It can include jokes, but is for things that don’t fit as an illustration or a tattoo.

Q. We normally finish by asking, what’s your favourite Bowie song?
A. Moonage Daydream


Questions: Paul McNeill   Editor: Yasmin Keyani


Q&A with Melissa White

Q. Tell me about your route into illustration.
A. It was probably when I was studying painting. I found that instead of using a paint brush I was using a pencil or a pen and my final work didn’t contain a drop of paint. I started using my computer and projection then, which is how I got away with it in the painting realm because the painting studio, for some reason, was the loosest studio that you could be in, you could get away with doing anything so long as you had something to back up.
I’ve always drawn, I’ve always loved drawing and after finishing art school I thought okay, maybe I want to do this instead and didn’t really know what I’d do with myself with a fine arts degree and applied for design.

Q. This was in Australia?
A. Yes. Tertiary education, I don’t know what they’d call it here? Maybe a diploma? So I applied at the Creative Centre to do either graphic design or illustration. I got into both courses but I chose Graphic Design. I have no idea why. I think in my head I was always, from when I was younger, thinking Graphic Design was the only way I could make money and be creative. I had two weeks when starting the course and had one class where we were tasked with drawing a gene pool. We had a break and I walked to the front of the class and every single person had drawn a kidney shape with pairs of trousers in it and I thought hmmm don’t want to be here and I walked out and didn’t go back. And after that many years just faffing around doing various things, always doing creative things but nothing solid. That was why I moved to the UK and realised that there’s a real market for illustrators. Back home I didn’t feel that what I did really fitted in with the Australian aesthetic or what was available. You were either a graphic designer or a fine artist or a street artist. That was the difference there and I didn’t really fit into any of those things. Whereas here in the UK I feel those boundaries are quite so set and illustration is a popular medium for commercial work as well as creative work, so it wasn’t until I came here I thought I could give that a go and make money from it.

Q. Could you tell me about your process? What are you working on now?
A. At the moment my grand scheme is a children’s book, which is mainly in my head at the moment and I haven’t had the time to dedicate to it. I work best when I have a day to potter around, clean the house from top to bottom, move things around, I’ll be in my space. I need to be in my space for a while and have the time.

Q. Using sketchbooks?
A. Pieces of paper, it’s totally random, I wish I had a more clear, defined process. Because that would make life so much easier! But it’s never worked like that. I always try to start off with books, but that doesn’t seem to work, so it’s a bit haphazard really. I have scraps of paper or have on my computer stuff that I’ve worked on digitally and from that I think I’ve got enough time to work on it I do. Originally it’s always on a piece of paper and then I’ll work on it digitally. I’m wanting to work more with just pen and paper. I’ve been working on a computer since university and I think print making has really pushed me towards getting back to analogue processes as I feel that I’m stuck in this computer screen, which has been really interesting and has helped me progress my style because I don’t give things that much time when I’m actually doing them. It either works or it doesn’t. Seeing it on a screen is so different from seeing it after that squeegee I like using my hands an getting a bit messy and I feel I’ve constrained myself a bit, so that’s what I’m working on at the moment and that’s what I want for my next project, the children’s book, to bring out in me.

Q. I saw you screen printing an alligator using printing medium painted onto the screen. Can you tell me a bit about that?
A. That was my break out from the screen a bit and going back to my painterly/non-painterly ways. I do love paint, I just don’t have much patience and I think that’s why I initially moved to the screen because I was impatient as an eighteen year old. You’ve got something in front of you that’s quicker than spending a day in the studio, that’s far more appealing. So getting back to the mono prints I saw a video of a girl doing these massive prints. She was treating them as paintings, not prints, and I thought that was really interesting. I wanted to use that process with my own style and having constraints on it, not letting it be completely abstract. Having a barrier around it in a way but not completely. That’s what I find exciting about printmaking, having that ability to play around and not knowing what’s going to come out. I like mixing the medium, with mono prints and cut outs and screen printing.

Q. How did you find out about Print to the People?
A. I tried screenprinting for the first time at a hen party, of all things, in Whitstable. I was told about Paul Bommer (see Q&A below) who has his stuff printed there. I admire how set his style is, that’s what I admire in illustrators

Q. What new medium would you like to try?
A. Printing is definitely a new medium for me. I quite like the idea of using clay just to get a bit messy. I very much enjoy letterpress. I did end up doing up eventually doing a postgraduate diploma in Design years after being accepted into the other design but went to University to do this and my favourite aspect of that was the typography course. I really enjoy letters and I felt like it was something I could have got really geeky about and that class was quite short though and so I didn’t end up progressing that geekiness quite so much as it could have gone. I ended up finishing that course early as well and I left the thought of doing design altogether. But letters I’ve always found them incredibly pleasing when they’re right and the idea of mixing really lovely letters and printing them out, that’s something that’s quite appealing to me. I have done letterpress at Print to the People. That started off as a ‘call out’ helping clean letterpress initially, which was a good introduction to the trays and how it’s laid out and the general understanding of how letterpress is done. And also going to The John Jarrold Printing Museum, in Norwich. I’ve only done a few actual prints though. That was an absolute joy, printing out a Gill alphabet. I want to print something that actually means something rather than just an alphabet now though. Words have always played a big role in my work, so I guess that makes sense.

Q. What artist do you admire?
A. As I’ve said I admire people who give the sense that they know what they’re doing. Working on a style, something that’s recognisably mine, something that I think is important for an artist purely to know what they’re doing , what they’re trying to say and how they doing to do that. The difficulty with that is being put in a box and that can be a problem. So as long as you’re doing new things, to change mediums. Somebody at the moment who is Jean Julian, his work I’ve come across online, as I do most artists these days, that’s kind of what’s great about Instagram, you can follow the progression of an artist and he’s huge now. A few years ago he was not, known in illustration circles I suppose. He’s the guy who did the Eiffel Tower peace sign. His work is so simple and so recognisably him and clever and thoughtful. That’s what appeals to me with him. His work is also often humorous, it’s reflective and it’s simple. I admire him and I admire his work.

Q. Apart from artists, where do you find inspiration?
A. Music. This was probably my first introduction to a visual language and was through music and album covers and film clips. Things like The Beach Boys and Revolver and Peter Gabriel’s film for Sledgehammer. I really remember those things from when I was little and its still music. I listen to music all day and there are sentiments in music I try to convey in my work.

Q. Let’s jump to ‘Marks on Paper’ – how did that come about?
A. ‘Marks on Paper’ came about because when I first moved to Norwich I knew you guys at Print to the People, which was a good introduction to being in Norwich, I’d met Flik at Anteros, purely by walking in and saying hello and I’m an artist and got a job? So she took my details down. I’d been thinking about doing a creative club for a while. I’d come across a place with a woman in New York who does it. She does something called ‘Ladies drawing nights’, so it’s very specific and generally involving other illustrators and that’s not what I wanted but I liked the idea of people coming together and Flik offered me an exhibition and asked if I wanted to teach drawing. I said I’d love to have an exhibition and I don’t want to teach drawing but I’d like to do a club night there. And so the idea was there are a lot of drawing classes in Norwich and a lot of them are quite traditional and I found them scary. So I wanted to offer an alternative that wasn’t scary and was basically something I’d like to go to. I think the premise is still the same, though it’s become a little more like therapy than I’d first imagined. But it’s generally a good laugh and cheaper than therapy. It’s basically for people who enjoy drawing and want to remember why they enjoy drawing. Because I really hate that idea that people say they can’t draw, which everyone does and everyone can draw.

Q. Do you collect anything?
A. I would say I am a collector of almost trash! Well, rocks aren’t trash. I do collect found objects. If you look anywhere around here you’ll find some kind of rock or twig or shell.

Q. How do you deal with creative blocks?
A. You just have to push through it. You just have to draw a lot of crap and throw a lot away.

Q. ‘She’s laughing’ – tell me about that name?
A. I’ve used that name since University. My logo is a Kookaburra. ‘She’s laughing’ is a euphemism for ‘everything will be fine’. It’s an Australian thing, she’s laughing, no worries, it will be okay.

Q. Where do you sell your work?
A. On a newly made web shop. I don’t have much to sell yet. That’s what this year is about and that list of work to do is about. I want to start having a coherent grouping of work that works nicely together to be able to sell.

Q. What is your favourite Bowie song?
A. Easily ‘Let’s dance’. It’s just one of the best songs of all time.


Questions: Paul McNeill   Editor: Yasmin Keyani


Q&A with Paul Bommer

Q. Tell me about your route into illustration?
A. Well I have always drawn since earliest memory really, always been drawing, and as a child I imagined it was something I was going to do a as a career, but then family pressures intervened and it wasn’t an option or a job. My father and three of my siblings were all engineers so I followed that route for a while and did an engineering degree. I worked in it for three years but I knew as soon as I started that I loathed it and was saving money while I was there to get me to Art College. So after three years I got out and did a fine art degree in painting at the National College of Art and Design, NCAD, in Dublin. When I returned to London I did a number of small jobs and had a studio on the side. At that time I was really trying to be a painter and then discovered that computers were a way of getting this stuff across much faster and this led to illustration. That was fine in the beginning, but then I began to feel that digital work killed the spirit of what I wished to create. I think that’s when printing came in, about 5 or 6 years ago. I looked into screen printing in London and found a studio, the Print Club in Dalston, which is where I started. I've been increasingly moving away from illustration since then (editorial or commercial illustrations in particular) into something more like fine art.

Q. Is that Fine Art?
A. Well, I don’t really know to be honest. I think printmaking straddles that, it’s quite a grey area. Lots of artists use printmaking, but somehow it’s still considered the poor cousin and not really respected like ‘unique’ pieces. Editioned work is generally thought of as a little bit lower than unique pieces, but not entirely. You can have prints that cost thousands and one offs, like mono prints, and then you can go right down to posters and flyers that are mass produced, and booklets. Print is a really broad church.

Q. I first saw your work in the Guardian magazine?
A. You probably did, I used to work for them quite often.

Q. When was that?
A. I used to work for the Guardian quite regularly before I moved up to Norfolk, so that would have been about five or six years ago. I did a weekly piece for them for a while and lots of covers for the supplements over time. They made a lot of redundancies at one point and moved their offices from Farringdon to Kings Cross and all the people who had commissioned me were let go. I didn’t really pursue it, I could have made fresh contacts, but there were always waves of new illustrators coming in and I decided I didn’t like the stress and pressure of commercial editorial illustration. I did enjoy the challenge of working within a brief and having certain constrains, but the work dried up and my enthusiasm for it dried up as well.

Q. Tell me about your process?
A. There are two strands. If I’m working for a commissioned piece the process involves creating roughs for approval and then final artwork. When I’m working on my own pieces I just work endlessly out of notebooks, I’m now on about 160. I’ve been using those since art college and
that’s over twenty years ago. I just work and work on ideas all the time and I try not to censor too much even though a lot of the ideas don’t necessarily make the grade as they wouldn’t always translate as an art piece or as a print. Different sorts of media suit different things, it may be something that has a limited audience and a painting or a mono print or a small edition might suit that better. Other imagery, like the tattooed sailors for instance, prove more popular and it’s okay to do bigger editions of those.

Q. So how does a picture come out of the notebook/sketchbook into the world, how does that process happen?
A. I often just do a very random scribble in the notebook, it may only be the size of a postage stamp, very small, and I will then scan that in and blow it up towards the size of print I’ve intended. I usually work in 3 sizes: A3, B2 (fifty by seventy cm) and mini (twenty cm square). As they get blown up certain things have to change, marks that just don’t work when they’re larger and so I work them up in the studio on the light box using technical drawing pens generally. The process is ongoing, I don’t just draw one thing, it starts out as something small and it grows piecemeal. I tend not to draw things as one image but in parts and then composite it together in Photoshop.

Q. Let's talk tiles, how did you come to be doing these?
A. I’ve always loved Delft tiles, I think even as a kid I was aware of them and just loved that look. Blue and white has always been very popular and it still is. A few years ago I had an exhibition in a Georgian house in Spitalfields and as a nod to the area and to the history of the house I did paintings that looked like Delft tiles (they were paintings on mdf boards and used crackle glazes to create the effect). I made 120 of those and they were all related to a website called ‘Spitalfields Life’ which I knew the author of and which dealt with that area particularly and its history. So I was referencing things that had been featured by the Gentle Author on that website, mentioning local manufacturers, artists, buildings and the churches there, etc. I was trying to reference the history in all its broad scale. They sold really well, but a lot of people didn’t get the fact that they weren’t real tiles and I got a lot of people asking if I would do ceramic tiles they could use in their bathrooms, hearth places, etc. I began a very slow process of exploring that and first of all started using transfers on shop bought tiles which I found very unsatisfactory. I did onglaze painting on premade tiles and eventually I just found the only way to get the look and feel of a genuine delft tile was to actually create the tile yourself and to paint it as it would have been done originally. Basically it took me about three or four years, intermittently as it definitely wasn’t the main focus of my work. I still use transfers for some sorts of tile making, but for the traditional blue and white delft tiles, I found the best thing was to go back to basics.

Q. So they’re like a mini painting?
A. They are. Each one is hand painted. Sometimes I use a template, called a spons, this is an image drawn on parchment which then has holes pricked in it through which you 'pounce' charcoal dust to leave an image on the tile that you can follow. Even if you use the same
template many times over you will always get slightly different end results, which is very pleasing.

Q. Let's talk tattoos... Do you have any?
A. Well, I’ve got a couple of small tattoos…

Q. We’ll have a look at those later... So you’ve used tattoos quite a bit in your work or its influenced your work?
A. Yes that’s right, it really comes more from a fascination with symbolism than it does with tattoos exactly. I liked the way tattoos had meanings. Nowadays you can get anything you like, if there’s a singer you like, etc., but at one time it was associated with a lower class of people, criminals or sailors say, and everything had a meaning, things like tears or dice. They had significance and I like the idea of things reduced down to a symbol. That’s why I have a fascination with playing cards and pub signs as well, all that sort of thing. It is all related. Tattoos work really well in a print because there’s the idea of having a story within a story. You can have a print about something large, a figure maybe, and within that figure there can be other stories. And it hasn’t always been tattoos, I did some work for the London Guildhall who were having an exhibition of treasures held by the various trade guilds. The artwork showed a Guildhall Aldermen with these objects embroidered in gold thread onto his coat. So it was lots of small pieces, icons, within a larger piece. There was a lot to digest visually.

Q. What’s that art called? That includes pub signs, fairground images, it’s got a name?
A. I think that would be termed folk or popular art.

Q. How did you find out about Print to the People?
A. It was through meeting you, in fact. You came along to one of my first exhibitions in Norwich, at what was The Bell Jar in Upper St Giles Street and a week later I met you again at Get Stuffed Christmas Market at Stew. Before Print to the People came along Stew was the centre of printmaking in Norwich.

Q. And you’ve had some work produced through them?
A. I have indeed. I have had some tote bags, posters and prints produced there and have been part of both the Year in Print project and P2TP's 2017 Calendar. So an ongoing relationship there and one I would definitely like to continue.

Q. There’s a lot of humour in your work, has that made you happy?
A. It does when people get what I do. I made a decision a few years ago to do what I like to do and not tailor it to an audience. So I’m always slightly surprised and very delighted when people like or respond to my work.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?
A. All over the place really, it’s difficult to say. I am influenced a lot by history and by nature. Although nature is so perfect I don’t attempt to try to imitate it, but I am inspired by it. I have
quite a medieval view of the world where you try to encapsulate or distil the essence of nature. I don’t really try to show landscapes.

Q. Do you collect anything?
A. Yes I do. I collect random ceramic pieces, jugs and vessels mostly. I’m very fond of them. The other things I collect are playing cards and tarot cards.

Q. Do you do readings?
A. No I don’t sadly. I was raised Catholic and taught they were a sin, they were evil (I don't still believe this!) but it’s the appeal of reductive symbolism that can be seen on lots of different levels. The pictures show one thing but may mean another and within one image there will be lots of disparate elements.

Q. How do you get past creative blocks?
A. When I feel them approaching I’m now more aware of them. There’s some work you can do when you’re not feeling so bright, sort of ‘donkey’ work. It’s good to do something else if you’re struggling with creative things and I find it's best to put down your pens and get away from it for a while. If you just carry on working relentlessly I think you burn out and that’s happened to me a number of times. So if I have a block I take a break.

Q. What are you working on now?
A. I’ve just finished a body of commissioned work and now I’m really trying to focus on what I’m going to do for next year, for the foreseeable. I’m trying to plan a different way of working where I focus more on creating the work I want to produce and exploring different techniques within printmaking, mark making and painting. I think what I’m really trying to do is find the the fun in it again. Not just the fun that comes across on the paper, but the enjoyment of the creative process itself, which can get so easily lost. That’s my main focus and I’m looking forward to next year and have momentarily stopped working in preparation for that. I'm laying out in front of me things that I could do and working out how best to proceed with that.

Q. Where do you sell your work?
A. I sell my work on my own Big Cartel online shop, and I also sell it through a number of galleries online and across the country. I’m having a pre-Christmas selling exhibition at the end of November, A Winter's Tale, at Nunns Yard in Norwich.

Q. What new medium would you like to try?
A. I’d like to explore intaglio etching, and wood block, which I think are related, that sort of direct impress printmaking. Different sorts of print media suggest different sorts of images. Risography, because it’s generally a simpler process, makes me think of pamphlets and posters, that sort of thing, a broader, more popular kind of avenue. Screenprinting and wood cut or intaglio would be higher end, more limited. All sorts of things to explore. I’d like to do more letterpress as well but I haven’t thought of a project that could really use that to best advantage.

Q. What artist do you admire?
A. I have current favourites, but over time there have been lots of artists whose works I have admired and they have been absorbed into what I do as influences. I’d say that Edward Bawden is still a massive influence and I like the levity, humour and invention of his earlier work particularly, which I think is slightly overlooked and Edward Lear, I love his drawings a lot. There’s also a Czech illustrator called Jiri Salamoun, I’ve got a couple of his pieces here that are from the sixties, film posters, and I really love his work because he just rips up all the conventions and isn't worried about issues of perspective or making sense, scale, that sort of thing. In a way it reminds me again of that medieval approach even though it’s very much art of the sixties. He’s still around now in his eighties or nineties.

Q. What is your favourite Bowie song?