Print Studio A-Z: A is for Annis


28 September 2016

Have you ever visited our Print Studio? If not you might not be aware of all the incredible creative work that goes on there on a daily basis. We wanted to share a selection of that work here on our website, so over the coming weeks and months we'll be sharing our A-Z of DCA Print Studio! Luckily for us, 'A' happens to be the first letter of Annis Fitzhugh's name. Annis is the Head of the Print Studio, so we sat down with her to talk all things print.

"[Printing] is an ideal way to begin making artworks"

Hi Annis! Please tell us a bit about what you do at DCA

I run DCA Print Studio, which is a workshop full of wonderful equipment for making prints and other artworks, available for absolutely anyone to use.
Our equipment covers a huge range - from Victorian presses to the very latest 3D-printer and scanner.  Of course, we also offer tuition and assistance in all the processes and our Print Studio Coordinators (Claire, Marianne, and Scott) are very experienced and skilled - and extremely helpful!

To begin with, my job is to make sure everything is running well, and includes programming Get Creative, our schedule of workshops and courses.  On top of that I look at strategic planning and research, and have been responsible for some big developments in the Studio such as obtaining Creative Scotland funding for top quality CNC machines (laser-cutter, router, large-format printer, vinyl-cutter, digital engraver and 3Dprinter).  This brought the equipment list into the 21st century and has enabled some amazing projects with artists who have combined old and new technology.

I am also the first point of contact and advice when we work with DCA artists (those who have been invited to exhibit in DCA Galleries) and others to develop works for their exhibitions or editions for our programme, DCA Editions.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

I did a Fine Art degree course at Falmouth School of Art, where we were encouraged to be multi-discipline so I studied painting, sculpture, photography and print. Right at the end of the course I specialised more in print, and then went on to post-graduate level at the Slade and Central schools of Art in London, where I was lucky enough to be taught by some real giants of the print world; Stanley Jones, Barto Dos Santos, and Norman Ackroyd to name just three. I also qualified as a teacher and ran a college print department full-time for 11 years, so I discovered that print is also a really good and enjoyable way to engage students.

"I discovered that print is also a really good and enjoyable way to engage students"

What I like most about print is the vast variety of processes it embodies, of which each has a distinctive range of visual, tactile and conceptual qualities that enable it to be selected as the most appropriate or effective vehicle for the content or idea.

It is also quite easy to learn the basics of any of the processes and get great results so it is an ideal way to begin making artworks - you really don't even need to be able to draw.  Of course, the more you practice the better the results, and there is always something new to learn.

What have your most memorable experiences in the Print Studio been?

I have been here quite a long time so there are a lot of them!  I have worked with some brilliant artists to make editions including Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce, nominee David Shrigley and polaroid artist Maripol. Working with Martin Boyce on his work for the Venice Biennale would be one highlight, and especially being able to go to Venice to see the work with him.

"[Impact offers] a great opportunity to show everyone what a wonderful history Dundee and Scotland have in regard to print."

Another highlight was working with DCA Curator Graham Domke to present an exhibition of the work of print-artist Sister Corita Kent and five contemporary artists who have been influenced by her (There Will be New Rules Next Week). This was something I had wanted to do for ages and it was timed to coincide with the Impact series of print conferences being hosted at DJCAD.  Impact is something I have been involved in since it started in 1999 at University of West of England and it brings together leading print practitioners and academics from all over the world, which made it a great opportunity to show everyone what a wonderful history Dundee and Scotland have in regard to print.

More recently I had the opportunity to go to Impact 9 in China, to represent the Print Studio and our work at a major conference.  It was a fascinating experience and not something I ever thought I would do.  Now I would love to go back and learn more, especially about traditional Chinese Folk Art printing - before it dies out!

What's your favourite thing about your job?

I love showing people the possibilities of print - and the delight they have when they make their first impression.  This can apply to established artists as much as anyone, as it is quite possible to go through a full art training without ever doing print.  I recently worked with Julia Dault, as part of the Below another sky project. She is a very well respected painter but had never done a print before. She found the process really exciting and describes how "we worked so seamlessly together", going on to say "I think during my time at DCA I learned and felt what the magic of print really was."

Tell us something people may not know about DCA/the Print Studio.

People may not even know it is here! We often meet people who say they have been coming to DCA for years before they noticed the Print Studio.  Even though we are deliberately very visible from the cafe-bar (the architect Richard Murphy designed it that way), people assume it is somewhere they are not meant to go which is a real shame.  We have to keep the door shut for safety reasons, but we are always very happy to answer the doorbell and give people a tour.

They also might not realise how lucky we are to have this in Dundee.  Scotland is unique in the world to have subsidized  print (and sculpture) workshops,from the 1960's and 70's to the present day.  The workshops started as cooperatives in the five main cities of Scotland to enable art-students to carry on working after college. Thanks to the support we get from Dundee City Council and Creative Scotland we can offer very low-cost access for everyone to amazing equipment and expertise.

"We are always very happy to answer the doorbell and give people a tour"

Printmakers from other countries are always astounded by the resources we have.

Thanks Annis!

Stay tuned for more of our Print Studio A-Z, shedding light on some of the fascinating processes and equipment on offer, as well as the artists and makers who use them.

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