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Spotlight on... Jane Ormes

I have always been a huge fan of Jane Ormes's work, not only because of her exquisite eye for design but also for her wonderful humor, which comes out in many of her pieces. Inspired by the many forms and shapes found in nature and bold color palates her prints make the perfect choice for most homes and certainly my own!

Read on to discover how Jane discovered her passion for printmaking, education, inspiration and aspirations......

BB: Can you tell us a little about your educational experience, how you found yourself producing limited edition prints and any advice you would give to students of a similar discipline heading into the big wide world of printmaking & illustration?

 I did an art foundation course back in, gulp, 1982, where I had an inkling I wanted to expand into a decorative area, probably textiles or ceramics. I did my degree at Leicester Polytechnic (now DeMontfort University) in Fashion and textiles, but specialised in Printed Surface Pattern, although interestingly enough I hardly did any printing ! My work was mostly illustrative and there was a debate whether I should change courses but I’m so glad I didn’t. We spent weeks and weeks drawing which is essential for a designer. We studied colour and worked on projects from painting with Chinese brushes, designing tablecloths, greetings cards and fabric for swimwear.

Interestingly my degree show consisted of small scale 3 dimensional theatre sets all based on the sea, featuring mermaids, whales and octopuses. We didn’t actually get to screen print much on the course so it was a good 20 years later that a studio colleague suggested I go to our local open access studio, Spike Print Studio in Bristol, and I fell in love with screen printing for real.

Advice I would give is to try and produce work that really comes from the heart and that you are passionate about. Follow your instinct; see things through, dont be distracted by what other people are doing!


BB: When & where did you lean to screen-print? Was it a skill that came naturally or has it taken you time to master? What would be your top tip when printing?

 I learnt the basics back at college, many moons ago but as mentioned before I joined Spike print Studio where I did an induction course but then learnt from other printmakers I was working alongside. The most common sound in a print studio is usually “oh f**k” or more politely “oh no” when something has gone wrong. And plenty can in screen-printing.

The secret is to take your time. You cannot rush as that is when mistakes happen. Always have enough ink. Always adjust the snap. Always stop out pin holes. Always wash your screen out properly. I’m still learning really but generally when you’ve made one horrendous cock up that has ruined 40 prints that took 3 days to produce, you never make that mistake again!


 BB: As well as producing beautiful prints you also work as a commercial artist can you tell us a little bit about some of the clients and projects you have worked on, and about the up’s and downs of working with clients!

I was very lucky to have been commissioned by Marks and Spencer to illustrate their Easter packaging for their confectionery a couple of years ago. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. A massive part of me was hugely flattered to have been chosen but the pressure to live up to what they wanted was frightening.

There were tight deadlines and constant emails but it all worked out rather well and I was constantly hanging around in the Easter egg aisles once the designs were actually on the packaging. It made the one day where I printed for 20 hours nonstop all worthwhile ! They even printed a design onto chocolate. I don t work digitally at all so I had to keep stressing to M&S that everything I was giving them was screen printed by hand.

I’m lucky enough to have a print in Ikea, It was selected so it wasn’t a specific commission. I still got a thrill when it popped up on Coronation Street though and I’ve heard it’s popular in sushi restaurant toilets too!

I’m lucky to work with an interior designer who works with the BBC and another based in london who have both used my work on lifestyle shows and sitcoms. It’s always a boost to see a piece of work pop up on someone s walls on the telly.

BB: Are there any commercial clients, companies or individuals out there that you would like to work with either for a campaign or in a collaborative way?

Oooh……I would sorely love to design some textiles and ceramics for someone. I’m always up for another packaging commission with one of the biggies such as M&S, John Lewis etc.

And who wouldn’t want to design for Marrimeko? I was in New York recently and Crate and Barrel had roll after roll of their fabrics - I nearly fainted with pleasure!

BB: Which illustrators, artists, designers are inspiring you at the moment?

I still love Brian Wildsmith with a passion, and quite a few other illustrators who were prolific in the 1960s. Saul Bass was amazing and Orla kiely has nearly bankrupted me over the years. I am surrounded by amazing printmakers in Bristol - Charlotte Farmer, Anna Marrow and Chitra Merchant to name but a few. I’ve always loved Matisse.

BB: Which website’s do you visit regularly?

I look at Print and Pattern quite regularly; pinterest is a deathtrap of time wasting but I love it. Anthropologie is a killer too!

BB: Tell us about your workspace 

My workspace is a horrendous mix of piles of paper, scalpel blades, glue, rolls of cellophane, pieces of mount board and the odd print. It’s currently a room that is far too small for me at home and everything is spreading to other areas of the house.  I’m due to move into our loft space which will be such a treat - its light and airy and I will be able to line my plan chests up like in a proper studio and all that!

BB: Do you have any interesting projects coming up?

I have some work that features on ceramics coming out soon and hopefully some fabric too. All a bit hush hush so can’t say too much more.

BB: If we could have asked you any question in the interview what would it have been & what would your answer have been?

Do you use superglue?

And the answer - yes- I’ve accidentally glued both hands to my desk-twice.

Shop online for Jane Ormes prints in her Boxbird store

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