Interview with Rachel Folan of printINKit, making intaglio drypoint printmaking easy
Like many of us, artist and maker Rachel Folan found herself without work and direction when the pandemic hit. Here, she tells us about her inspiring journey of rediscovering printmaking and the steps it took to create printINKit, a brand offering Intaglio Drypoint Printmaking kits that are fun to use and easy to follow.
How did you get into printmaking?
I first got introduced to Intaglio Drypoint printmaking at college many years ago. I was working on a project and my teacher at the time had shown me the method since it fit well with what I was doing. I really enjoyed the process of etching my design into the print plate and being able to create a run of prints from one drawing.
After that project, I didn’t do it again until last year but I always remembered that I loved printing. But because when I tried it at college we used a large print press to press the prints, I hadn't considered having another go since I didn't have access to the equipment.
How did you start your journey towards creating your label printINKit?
Up until March 2020 I had been self-employed working on a project with young people in Bristol, delivering creative workshops in schools. When the pandemic hit, the schools closed and I found myself unemployed and not knowing what to do with myself.
I’d always wanted to get back into creating for myself but at that point hadn’t considered making it into a business. I started off in lockdown, painting and drawing to pass the time which started me thinking about other art forms I’d learned. I remembered the print technique Intaglio Drypoint I had learned a long time ago in college and I remembered I really enjoyed making prints. I had wanted to continue printmaking back then but didn’t have access to a print press.
I began researching what I would need. I knew there are certain tools needed to create the prints but I couldn’t find a lot of information out there. It was confusing to know which print plates to use, which ink and which tools I would need. I ended up doing some trials and making some errors. It was frustrating because at the time I found loads of different kits online for Lino Printing and such but I couldn’t find a kit with everything I needed in one place for Intaglio Drypoint Printmaking.
I knew people loved printmaking as I found loads of different printmakers, both amateurs and professionals, on social media, but Intaglio Drypoint printmaking seemed to be less popular than other forms. It’s such a simple and effective technique that I decided, if I enjoyed this art form so much and wanted a kit with everything in one place, then other people may like it too.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process behind your printmaking practice?
Although I learned about Intaglio Drypoint Printmaking in college a very long time ago, I hadn't done any printmaking since. I have a degree in Fine Art but my art practice was focussed on painting and printmaking had taken a back seat with work and life taking over.
With the world coming to a stop in 2020, it gave me the time and limited space to get back into my creative practice. I had dreamt of a creative career since childhood but hadn’t known where to start, so it’s been really fun getting back to what I love doing best. I have really just spent this past year teaching myself again, I don’t profess to be an expert; just someone who loves doing what I do.
What do you do in your spare time?
Living in a creative city, I am so fortunate to have so much inspiration on my doorsteps. I love getting out and about to exhibitions and galleries when I can but where it hasn’t been possible recently, I am so lucky that there is artwork all over the city.
I like to find inspiration all around me, from my local parks to the city centre and I’ve done a lot of walking and discovering new places and hidden gems in Bristol recently.
For me, I can only create when I feel inspired, and to feel inspired, I need to feel good. Because of that, looking after all areas of my life, my physical and mental health has been really important to me.
What is some advice you have for aspiring makers?
Don’t let fear or self-doubt, or whatever it is that is holding you back... hold you back. If you believe in it, and work hard, you really can do anything.
I've spent ages debating with myself whether I should start printINKit; I had never done anything like it before and was terrified. I knew nothing about setting up a business… but I learned, I put in a lot of hard work and I believed in what I was doing.
Most importantly though, I asked other people for help. I reached out to people on social media doing similar things and asked questions and I was really surprised with how lovely people were and how willing they were to help. I’d love it if I could inspire others to have a go too, to not worry about making mistakes.
The pressure I put on myself to only create art if it was perfect, stopped me from creating altogether for a very long time and I’ve learned now to just enjoy the process.
I found a wealth of information online. There are so many brilliant resources to learn from and it's been a real eye opener to me. I hope that now, I can pass on some of that knowledge and help other people to discover their inner printmaker!