meet: emma lawrenson of little print press

emma lawrenson is a print maker based out of england. she recently won the new light art prize printmakers award, an award that looks at artists in north england. emma has been printmaking for around fifteen years. her style is very calm and mature. i love the colors she uses. emma was so kind to share her experience and wisdom with us!

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what is your background?
i always knew i wanted to do something with art from a young age. i experimented with printmaking before my degree and immediately fell in love with the process. i was lucky enough to go to the royal college of art to study an MA in printmaking after my fine art degree and have been hooked ever since.

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how did you get started selling?
an artist friend mentioned etsy to me about five years ago. i hadn't heard of it at that point but she said i should open a shop. i was just getting back into working as a full time artist at this point after taking a break from teaching art and having a family. i decided to build up a substantial new portfolio of work and it just went from there. i always continue to exhibit in galleries in the uk and europe, it’s really important to me to remain an artist, and not be purely about about making and selling my work. 

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what inspires your work?
i make abstract prints inspired by anything and everything around me. i notice unusual shapes, patterns and colors then try to make some sort of order out of them back in my studio. i can take shapes and images from almost anywhere and am constantly scanning as i go about my day.  i am lucky to live in the beautiful yorkshire countryside, and this has a big influence on my work.

other artists inspire me, those i have been thinking about recently are agnes martin, ettore sottsass, andrew bick, breon o’casey and louise bourgeois. however, i would say my main inspiration remains with the american color field artists and a little bit of fifties textiles design thrown in!

i enjoy working in both styles, depending how i am feeling at the time. i like creating the more geometric work simply because i enjoy patterns and the challenge of working with more colours. as a child, i loved drawing patterns and filling them in. i like that there is a structure and that an image will nearly always work without having to try too hard at it.

i have two main styles of working; one is the more hard edged geometric or linear style and the other, the more fluid abstract shapes and organic work. 

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what has been the best thing you’ve done for your company?
the best thing i ever did was opening my shop on etsy. i sell on other sites and with galleries but none compare for me. i love that i can run my shop myself they way i want to, i can make sure my customers are really well looked after. i think it’s a great way to buy art; a really personal and friendly environment. etsy has been amazing for me. i have sold prints to over 35 different countries and been spotted for some fantastic opportunities. one of which is to supply universal studios with artwork for sets, and most recently mad men!

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what are you most looking forward to this year?
i’m working towards a solo show at the zillah bell gallery in thirsk in the spring. i’m really excited about creating new work for this, which will of course, be available to buy in my etsy shop too!

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what advice would you give to makers who are just getting started? 
i found that having enough stock made a difference in my shop. more choice means buyers are less likely to contact you about things you don’t have but they would like! it saves a lot of admin time in the long run. i also steer clear of commissions, as these swallow up so much time that can be put to better and more productive use elsewhere. 

most of my sales are for more than one print at a time, i think my photographs may be one of the reasons for this. try to make sure your photographs show buyers what might work well with another product. it leads to more sales! 

photographs of your products in a setting also help. i love this shot a customer sent to me of my work in her beautiful home.

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"it’s really important to me to remain an artist, and not be purely about about making and selling my work." is something that really resonates with me, and emma nailed it on the head. also, so cool about her working with universal studios on mad men!

as i'm sure you already in love with emma and her work, be sure to check out her etsy and her website to keep up with her latest adventures. thanks so much for sharing, emma! 

photos courtesy of emma lawrenson.