After a bit of a gap, we’re resuming our interviews with Makerhoodies. In this first one, Rachel tells us why she switched from set and costume design to printing with Prickle Press – and where to get great-value flowers in Brixton.
1. You studied set and costume design – so how did you end up making and selling prints?
In 2009 I was a year out of my MA in scenography for dance and was getting some odd bits of work as a designer while holding down a full-time job, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by the work I was doing. At the time my partner was visiting from Australia and he bought a letterpress printer. Neither of us had done any printing before, but we loved it! Instead of being told what to do by other people, I could do exactly what I wanted. And it’s very tactile – I use sets of metal and wooden type, often really old. Some of the cards I have on Makerhood are made from vintage wooden type loaned from a shop called Mr Magpie in Brighton.
2. So you are now a professional printmaker?
Yes, I work from home, printing four days a week. Now we have a much bigger press, about 100 years old, made in the US. It’s a massive piece of equipment and weighs a ton – I’m worried about it falling through the ceiling into our living room below! Although I don’t have any formal training I’ve always done a lot of drawing, and I like to combine type and illustration. So I draw up designs, turn them into PDFs and then get them made into polymer plates for printing.
3. And how did the name of Prickle Press come about?
I wanted the name to be quite personal – something that meant something to me. Prickle is my partner’s nickname, because his surname is Burr. And Prickle Press rolls off the tongue nicely and is quite cute but with an edge – rather like my work! I like to create something that’s not too twee, that makes people think.
4. Why did you join Makerhood?
Last Christmas I did a market at the Living Room, and someone came round giving out flyers about it. So I looked it up but wasn’t sure how I could get involved at that stage. But then earlier this year I decided I wanted to meet more people in the area and get more of a sense of community, so I went to a volunteers’ meet-up. I really like the fact that Makerhood is creating a network of local artists and designers – working at home on your own can be quite isolating. And I can print bespoke business cards , so maybe I could also make new business contacts!
5. Do you feel isolated living in Brixton?
Not at all! I’ve lived here for five years, almost longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. I came back from Canada and my brother was living here, so I moved in with him and have no plans to leave. I think it takes a long time to feel at home in London, but I know where to find what I need here now. It’s changed a lot, but it’s quite exciting to see those changes.
6. So tell us about some of your favourite Brixton insider tips!
I’m a big fan of the flower stall outside Brixton tube – they sell the most affordable flowers I’ve found in London and always have some more unusual ones. And my favourite restaurant is Elephant in Brixton Village – the freshest, tastiest curry in London. If I could be guaranteed a seat I’d be there every Saturday evening!
You can buy Rachel’s quirky, limited-edition letterpress prints at http://brixton.makerhood.com/prickle-press