Printing techniques for my abstract work


Right from the outset during my MA in 2012 I knew that I didn't want to print these images as straight photographic prints. Initially I wanted them to be large, because one of the functions of the images was to convey emersion into abstracted detail, the kind of detail only a manipulated digital image can create.

Both paintings and traditional photographic prints have a sense of physicality. This is a sense of texture that feels tactile (even if you are not touching it). I wanted to create prints which had the same tactile nature as traditional photographic prints or even paintings so that they didn't just feel like digitally produced images. The following is some of the processes I went through to reach a conclusion to how they are produced now.

It is worth saying that being sustainable has been at the forefront of my mind throughout. Although in a lot of cases the paper that the images are printed on is bleached, it is also true that the cotton pulp comes from sustainable sources. Also, the pigment inks used in the printing process also are sustainable with all the cartridges being recycled as best as I possibly could.

As digital artworks the display required something that set off their purpose whilst retaining their photographic visuality. Through my work at the University of West London I had the opportunity to explore the craft of this using my old A3 inkjet and then, when I had settled on a way forward, the large format printers at the university.

I first used epoxy resin to coat the inkjet images, as seen here at our MA interim show in 2012. This gave a glazed glassy impression that I was pleased with. I did however want to see how far interacting with inkjet prints went.

London College of Communication install pictures
Underpainted picture of Farmer

Some experiments didn't end well, just a inky mess, however I soon found that underpainting with acrylic and then coating with an acrylic ground worked well to add a certain level of texture, as you can see here with an image of my sister on her farm (the underpainting and inkjet ink working well together to subvert the final image).

Eventually with the Evocation tryptic I settled on 100 x 80 centimetre images printed with a white acrylic base and digital ground on Arches Aquarelle paper. The process was very tricky and I had to get the printer on just the right settings. I also found that slightly dampening on the back flattened out the paper and stopped the printer head from catching on the print.

When exhibiting the images I held them off the wall some way with spacers so they floated, this also gave the natural 'cockle' (wave) of the print some room to do its thing. You can see this here at the Shifting Focus exhibition in Berlin in 2016.

Printing Evocation work at University of West London
Installation pictures at Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin

Along with these images I produced three, one off, hand made books depicting edits and the process of 'evocation', you can see the book on the plinth here. You can also see full pdf's of the books on the individual Evocation pages - Pendle hill, Woodchester Park and Cannock Chase.

Eventually these images have been mounted in museum frames which protects them and I think sets them off pleasingly. The the three of the Evocation series are in an edition of 5 as they are large and extremely difficult to produce, some are still for sale. Please get in touch via for further information.

Installation picture in private residence