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 Hulduf√≥lk, 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