An artsy trip to Sheffield

Recently my course organised a trip to Sheffield where we were fortunate to attend a private tour at print production Evolution Print as well as visiting local art enthused exhibitions including recent pieces of infamous Pop Artist Peter Blake.

Photography taken by Sophie Strain

Evolution Print

Evolution Print is one of the premier printing houses in the region, taking pride in all projects, they aim to provide the highest quality for great value and customer service. Our tutor Nick managed to organise a tour for us around their warehouse giving us the opportunity see how print process and output works. As a graphic designer, I am constantly working at the computer, creating imagery for web or print, therefore I am a typical client for printing businesses. At Evolution Print, it was so interesting to see how it works at the other end, behind the scenes, before the product reaches the client.

Evolution Print

After splitting into two groups, we were directed into the warehouse. When entering, we were instantly hit with the smell of paper and ink before seeing massive stacks and surrounding machinery. The warehouse was very large with a ceiling high as two floors of a standard house. We were first shown their manual printer which was the length of three cars. I emphasise manual because this was their older printer run by old school mechanisms- but yet still a quality printer.

We were then shown their newer printer which cost over a million pounds. This was a digital printer that was completely automatic and needed no form of interaction other than initial start up. At the end of the print, it even had a built in heater and fan to dry the ink whereas the previous printer didn’t have the pages had to be left to dry for up to 5 working days. We was told that the printer was a lot more efficient had better quality prints but if their was a problem it was a nightmare to solve. Although the new printers takes on significant jobs, the older printer was still well used, allowing the company to take on 3 times as much as normal.

Aside from the two main printers, we were also shown machines that could fold, bind, press and cut paper which was very impressive, and if I could I would have one of each in my house. Interestingly, in such a big warehouse with lots of machinery working on numerous projects, there was only around 3 men working them. There were also two women working in the packaging department, folding prints, and arranging them to be shipped. Leaving the warehouse we were taken to a much more familiar environment where there was people sat on Mac computers. These members of staff dealt with clients, and would set documents to be printed.

At the end of the tour, we were provided with a great range of printed examples from the company. I am such a lover of print design, therefore this was very exciting. I flicked through various books, flyers and magazines. What was even more exciting was that we were allowed to keep any of the printed material free of charge. I managed to find a fantastic bookazine called “Edict” (which I nearly got in a fight for), which had beautifully engaging examples of design, photography, illustration and typography. I plan on reading the magazine soon, and will share my findings of it via my blog.

Kid Acne

Our tutor Nick then guided us to our first exhibition of the day, Rumble in the Jungle by artist Kid Acne. Although it was a small space, it showed a lot of talented illustrative work. There was visuals mounted on the wall, and applied examples on products such CD’s and T-shirts by local artists and businesses, fanzines and badges. Kid Acne is doing very well for himself and is exhibiting on a global range. The illustrations that caught my attention were those of a native american theme. However his work showed a range of settings and styles, the only common feature was the illustration of the same woman that was always featured.

Rumble In the Jungle

Kid Acne opened his gallery especially for on this day, and it was a privilege to view his work.

Peter Blake

The next gallery that we visited was the Peter Blake Exhibition of Rare and New Silkscreens. From being a lover of Pop Art, I was rather looking forward to seeing Peter Blake’s most recent exhibits. Peter Blake is a painter of urban realist subjects and pioneer of “Pop Art”. Influenced by American realist painters, his now one of today’s most renown artists.

“I started to be an artist at the age of 14, so it’s been 66 plus years as a student and then artist, so it’s been a long career. It’s had its high points, and it’s had its bad points. I think most of my ambitions have been achieved. Most of the things I’ve wanted to do, strangely, I’ve done.

Peter Blake

Peter Blake Exhibition

The most infamous piece by Blake in my opinion is his caption of the Beatles. Whilst at the exhibition, I was made apparent that when creating the image, The Beatles themselves were actually stood in front of the collage collection of celebrities, whereas I had actually thought they too, have just been manipulated onto the image. I found this very interesting, and it made me start to look at his work from more than one perspective. I have always been fascinated by subject in pop art and the exhibition certainly did not disappoint.

Peter Blake The Beatles

After visiting all the galleries, we managed to have time to visit a local bar, where we all sat down together and had a pint- tutors included, which ended a lovely day in Sheffield. I found the day very enjoyable as well as insightful. Being behind scenes of a print business provided me with knowledge to the process and an appreciation for those who dedicate their time to print work by designers such as myself. It was also very interesting visiting the exhibitions and sharing it with fellow creatives. Apart from Evolution Print, the Galleries and the Alcohol, sadly I didn’t get chance to see much of Sheffield due to falling asleep on the coach. Therefore, have a great reason to go back again!

Thanks for reading!