Q&A with Laurel Pettitt

• Q - What is this connection to Iceland in your work?

• A - In our 3rd year at Uni we weren’t given a brief so we could design it ourselves. At that time I was looking into Norse mythology and I kept looking at Icelandic landscapes and music. At the beginning it was more about Norse stories, then it moved into the Icelandic landscape and the Huldufólk, Icelandic folk lore, and then I ended up more focused on the land.

• Q - So you don’t have a family connection?

• A - No I don’t, wish I did. But I’ve always been quite interested in it. Then in 3rd year I went through a battle about going but couldn’t afford to. Then I realised it would be more a reportage, where as this [her print Bodies in Water] is like imagining. And the original of this print is on that pull out and done with a posca pen.

• Q - How did you turn this into a screen print?

• A - I drew it first and then at Uni we had a large scale scanner that is really good and turned it into a digital file and picked all the colours.

• Q - Do you always do that now? Start off with something you draw using Posca pens and then you turn it into digital print and then you can turn it into a screen print?

• A - There’s only been half the screen prints I’ve done using that approach. With the others it’s straight on worked on acetate, which I like a bit more because it’s more organic. All of these are quite clean. My sister said the other day I should get away from the orange and blue colour  palette, she doesn’t like it!

• Q - Could you tell me about your route into illustration?

• A - Throughout my childhood I’ve always drawn and doodled and really loved books and really loved reading and illustrations in books. And I was into English and really loved writing as well and did writing with doodling at the side. Ironically I failed at Art A-level. Then did a National Diploma and specialised in Graphics. My tutors realised all my work was quite illustrative so I applied for illustration [at University].

• Q - So you did five years?

• A - Yeah, with 2 years Graphics and 3 Illustration.

• Q - When did you finish?

• A - Last July.

• Q - So less than a year?

• A - Uh huh. And I moved home and I’m volunteering at the Apex Gallery in Bury www.theapex.co.uk/art-gallery

• Q - Can you tell me a bit about Zines and Comics

• A - I did my dissertation about Comics. As a child I was into Snoopy and Tintin because my mum always read it, but I was never an avid fan and I tried to get into superhero comics. When I was doing my graphic design course I was looking at graphic novels and online formats and then I realised it’s more about the story and art form and was really inspired by Jillian Tamaki jilliantamaki.com  She’s a Canadian artist and did a really lovely book, This One Summer in collaboration with her cousin Mariko. Alternative comics are on a different level from mainstream comics or what people think of as ‘comics’ straight away. They’re just sequential. I like the words sequential art or sequential illustration. I think ‘comics’ is a really closed off word, everyone has their own idea of what it is straightaway, like it’s for kids.

• Q - Has the word ‘Zines’ replaced the word ‘Comics?

• A - Yeah, definitely. On my course when it came to comics, hardly anyone thought about comics or was into them or even thought of making them on an illustration course. I ran a comic society while I was at Uni in Norwich and a zine society as well, which are still running. I just really wanted to show people all the alternative comics, like Daniel Clowes  danielclowes.com or Charles Burns.

I read a really lovely comic the other day, Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

It is hard to give definitions on this type of work. I would call something a Zine if it doesn’t have panels, but something with panels and a sequence I’d call a comic. Shaun Tan
http://www.shauntan.net/ did an entire graphic novel without words The Arrival. I really recommend that book. People often view graphic novels without words as more ‘mature’.

• Q - Do you enjoy screen printing?

• A - I love it.

• Q - So what processes do you use?

• A - I draw and do screen printing. My outcomes are usually little books or prints, but I do want to expand that further thinking about using fabric or textiles because I want to go down that route and incorporating screen printing onto that.

• Q - How did you find out about PTTP?

• A - Through Jo who works at the Uni and we went to the old building at Stew Gallery for the induction.

• Q - Where do you find inspiration?

• A - Landscapes and stories. More recently my work is about small quiet moments that you can make into stories.

• Q - Do you collect anything?

• A - Books and comics and zines. I’ve got a whole shoebox from going to all the zine fairs around the country. My room is full of art all over the walls and bookshelves full of comics and graphic novels.

• Q - How do you get past creative blocks?

• A - I find talking to my fellow artists, people I’ve gone to Uni who I’m quite good friends with and who I respect their art a lot and their opinion. I normally reach out to them to talk as just getting a new set of eyes helps. Or taking a break.

• Q - What are you working on now?

• A - I got accepted into ELCAF, East London Comics and Arts Festival
http://www.elcaf.co.uk/ which is in June, so I’m just making a new body of work for that and want to do some screen-prints.

Right now I’m making a comic and it’s about graduate life. It’s going to be a zine about the realistic side of what it’s like to graduate. I thought it might be nice to tell people what it’s like, that it’s really hard, you have to work really hard, you won’t get given anything and you won’t get a job, probably.

• Q - What new medium would you like to try?

• A - Riso printing. I’ve only done it here at PTTP, a quick one and some Christmas cards, but they were all quite quick. I really want to make a riso printed book.

• Q - Where do you sell your work?

• A - Through zine fairs and art fairs and I have an online shop on Cargo Collective.

• Q - Which artists do you admire?

• A - Jillian Tamaki, Luke Pearson http://lukepearson.com/ and Rob Hunter [http://www.robertfrankhunter.com/ I really like his book Map of Days and he did a collaboration to make a comic alongside a record, ‘Young Collosus’.

• Q - What is you favourite David Bowie song?

• A - Moonage Daydream

Questions: Paul McNeill  Editor: Yasmin Keyani