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A Magazine for Sheffield

James Green: Local linocutter

We’ve been about for a while now – seven years, to be precise – but it’s a testament to the creativity of this city that we’re yet to run out of local artists to feature. James Green has been lino cutting for years now and you will likely have seen his work around town. It’s always a pleasure to welcome new methods and mediums onto these pages, especially when they’re as bold and immediately identifiable as James’. What initially drew you to linocuts? I've always had an interest in print, but just never tried it myself. However, a few years ago - 12, I think - I was leant some linocut tools and inks, as I wanted to create a handmade Christmas card. As soon as I started using them I knew it was the medium for me, and I've been cutting away ever since. Tell us about the process itself and the tools and materials involved. Linocut printing is a form of relief printing, the same as woodcut, and they are essentially a more elaborate version of potato printing. You cut out the bits you don't want from the piece of lino and leave the bits you want to be inked up and printed. Lino is made from ground-up cork and linseed oil, and you cut into it using these small chisel-type tools. When you're finished, you roll ink on with a roller, and then place paper on top of it and apply pressure, with either a printing press or a spoon/barren. The process hasn't changed since the early 1900s. It was invented in Germany by printmakers who were finding it hard to afford the wood to create woodcuts. They basically just ripped up their floors and started using them instead. Are the limits of the linocut method a self-imposed restriction? Would you consider using other methods to achieve a similar result, with greater freedom of possibilities? Yes, I enjoy the restrictions that linocut imposes. It makes me think a lot more about the composition. If I was a painter and had an infinite palette, I think I would find that aspect very distracting. Knowing that I have a maximum, usually, of three colours helps me focus. Also, you can't be that delicate with linocut. You have to be bold, so it has helped my confidence with image making. I have recently been getting into screen print too. I felt it more suitable for some bigger work I've been working on, and some prints that rely on colour overlays and transparencies. I've been doing this at Sheffield Print Club (, a great open-access print workshop on Lenton Street in town. What involvement do you have with other print activities in the city? I organise Sheffield Print Fair with my friend Jane Elliot, otherwise known as Leaf City Press. It is an annual one-day event designed to help artists and printmakers from the region and beyond show and sell their work. We've organised three now, and we have been blown away by the interest shown by the general public, and the number of amazing artists who have applied. Alongside the artists with their work, there are also print demonstrations onsite, which can perhaps demystify some of the processes. The next fair is on 14 November at St Mary’s Church on Bramall Lane. I'm also on the committee at Sheffield Print Club, and I help organise the Folk Forest Fair, the art and craft fair during Tramlines. What are your plans for 2015? I've a fair few new linocuts and screen prints to create - landscapes, creatures and more donkeys. I'm currently planning my biggest donkey print yet. I'm also featured in a new book coming out later in the year about portraiture, related to the Portrait Artist of The Year TV show I took part in. I'm taking part in quite a few events in the region, including Open Up Sheffield, Saltaire Arts Trail, Art in the Gardens, Sheffield Print Club's Print Party and more. I try and post on my blog and Facebook page with all my upcoming events. Oh, and I'm involved with quite an exciting new project this year, which I'm not allowed to mention anything about yet, but all will be revealed in good time. [imagebrowser id=57] )

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