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  • Writer's pictureHannah Balogun

True Freedom is Frightful

As you may have seen earlier on my blog, I recently joined an illustration collective, our name is 0602 Collective, go check out our Instagram page if you haven't already! Anyways, one of the girls from our collective is planning to create a printed booklet/publication that she'll design and produce with another girl who's on DPS (Diploma in Professional Studies, the industry gap year I'm currently on). The brief is called ReAct, and we had to respond to quotes that they gave us in any way we chose, along with thinking about how the quotes related to DPS. I decided to use this an opportunity to do some printmaking and develop the self-initiated proposal I did at the end of my Year 2 term, however I didn’t have any access to the Letterpress facilities at the University because it was closed for half term, so I did some DIY printmaking at home!

It's been a while sinceI documented the process of a project, and to be fair I've missed having my phone gallery filled with receptive shots of art work in the making. However before we get to the process I just wanted to state that the quote I chose was:


Self-Awareness can be crippling.

I chose to respond to the quote because as soon as I read it I could immediately relate to it. As a Graphic and Media Design student in their third year doing DPS, the idea of freedom, is indeed frightful as the quote states – yes, this new freedom gives us space to discover and grow as designers, but it’s also our job to find out how to make use of the freedom so it’s beneficial and to our advantage. Then there’s the self-awareness part of the quote, my aim for this DPS year is to become more aware and confident in what I want to create, over what I need to create. I’m an advocate for being Passionate about what you do - I believe that passion sparks my creativity.

I decided to respond to my chosen quote through relief printing. Printmaking is something I’ve been keen on for a long time now, and though I haven’t been able to do much of it within my DPS year so far, I knew this project would be the perfect excuse to do so. I came up with a self-initiated project towards the end of my second year at University, and my idea was based around combining patterns and typography through a mixture of printmaking processes. I built off this idea by using the letter ‘O’ and turned it into a simple pattern. I used both Lino and Acetate to relief print vibrant, 2 layer patterns. I decided to include all my experiments within my outcome because I wanted to illustrate the idea of me attempting to figure out what method gave me the best results, which symbolises my DPS year – I want this year to be about trying new things, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and what I can do to lead me in a direction that I’m passionate about.


As I mentioned previously, I had to come up with self-initiated project, and below are the initial experiments I did to demonstrate the kind of things I would explore within the brief. For this pattern, I did relief printing using newsprint, and I used the Letter 'I' , inspired by a font from Alan Kitching’s A-Z of Letterpress: Founts from The Typography Workshop book to create a pattern. I used 2 different sizes and explored the ideas of overlapping them in various ways.

Designing the Pattern

Last time I made the pattern based on type, I used Photoshop - if you know me you know me and photoshop have never really been the best of friends, the layers make me scream. However, using Procreate on my iPad has made me appreciate layers, so long story short I traced over the scan of the letter 'O', used the grid to help layout the letters, and below are the 3 patterns I came up with.

Creating the Template

My original plan to create the patterns was to cut my designs out of acetate, this would have meant that I could keep reusing it, and acetate is quite cheap so that's also a bonus. However, after many failed attempts I realised I'm either just very bad at using a craft knife, or the acetate was too thick for what I was planning. Either way, I gave up on trying to do the intricate patterns, but cut out 2 bigger 'O' using both a craft knife and scissors, it was hard but we got there in the end. I gave into my untouched Lino and cut the second pattern out, the first one seemed too intricate for the first experiment, especially because I haven't used Lino in a while. Moving on, I transferred my pattern to the Lino using a pencil and tracing paper and cut it out. I won't lie and say my cutting skills are good because at that point, I just wanted to cut the pattern out, but I think the rough edged look still worked well and contributed to the handmade aesthetic.

Time to Print

As I mentioned recently I had to make this a little DIY session, so the first picture is the Let's-Not-Get-Any-Inks-On-My-Bed sheet Set up. Usually when I do printmaking without a press, I use another dry roller to make sure the ink applies to the paper, however since I only had one roller, I had to use a perfume bottle lid. Yes. When I say DIY, I mean DIY. But yes, enjoy the process!

Time to Dry

So yes, below are all the prints I managed to do in the early hours of the morning! I didn't realise that I started so late, so I had to relocate all the prints to my parents room so I could actually sleep in my bed, but overall I was really happy, and impressed on how they came out, especially the prints with the bigger 'O'. When I first began using the acetate stencil I wasn't too sure, but the more I kept going, the better the prints were.

The Edits

Since these prints were for a publication, I decided to scan all my prints but they came up really faded and discoloured, so as everyone enjoys doing at 2am, I had to recolour all the images in photoshop so they were a brighter and more saturated. The colours aren't as intense as the original prints, but I still think the vibrancy they're at now works well, and you can still get a faint idea of the overlapping orange that's created in a few of the prints. Maybe in the future I could try taking photos of the original prints, however the digital scans do create a different aesthetic which could be argued to combine my print and tech skills together...

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