In our regular Meet The Maker feature we chat with Sheffield linocut print maker Benjamin Partridge from The Owlery!
A special needs teacher by day, Benjamin spends his evenings making wonderful woodland prints and accessories with his own hand carved stamps.
We asked him what he loves about being part of the vibrant Northern craft scene.
Tells us a little about you..
I am Benjamin Partridge, a printmaker and textile artist from Sheffield. I have never strayed too far from home, I completed a BSc psychology and Masters of Research in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University before becoming a full time Special Needs Teacher in 2010.
Describe what you make in three words.
Product based printmaking.
What is the story behind your business/designs?
A few years ago I completed my teacher training which involved taking part in subject knowledge classes. We had classes in English, Maths, Music and art to name a few. One of the art classes was based around creative printmaking, which I didn’t know at the time, would snowball into a business! I took what I had learnt and ran a small enterprise project with my class at school – I cut the blocks and they used them to print with. Without intending to it became a huge and very successful project.
Light bulb moment!
If I can do this at school…I can do this myself! I soon began to develop my range of lino cuts and gradually extended my product range which is constantly developing.
Take a picture of your studio or where you work. Are you a tidy or a messy person?
I would love to say that I am a tidy person…but…I think my studio space says differently. I work from my attic studio and at peak times this can become very messy while I balance large business workloads and my day job.
Take a picture of your favourite piece of craft kit. What do you like most about it? What have you made with it?
My favourite and most ESSENTIAL piece of kit is by far my lino cutting tool. I have one blade, which I have hammered down to create a narrower ‘V’ to make even smaller cuts and create even more detail. I am aiming to buy some new (and better) cutting tools very soon, however this tool will never be replaced!
What is the most favourite thing you’ve ever made?
My Bee print fabric is by far my favourite print yet…I love all my prints of course but this one is extra special! What is it they say…’all the best things are discovered by accident’? This print design certainly was an accident – I happened to scan this in diagonally by accident and when it was mirror repeated it just happened to create this wonderful pattern! This textile designs is currently being used for cushion, lampshade, pocket mirrors and cosmetic bags, which have sold very well indeed!
What inspires you?
I take most of my inspiration from nature! I have been obsessed with animals since I was a child and loved nothing more than a trip to the zoo. I also live close to the Peak District and some pretty wonderful parks so more recently I have take inspiration from the British Woodland and British Wildlife right on my front doorstep.
What do you like about the north? Where is your favourite place in the north and why?
The south scares me quite honestly…in the north I feel comfortable, I feel like wherever you are you can feel the community spirit and you can ask anyone for help if you need it! I obviously have to say ‘Sheffield’ as my favourite place as it is where I live/grew up. The best thing about this wonderful city? It is the largest community of practising artists/crafter and makers outside of London! How incredible is that? There is always something going on – a studio opening, an exhibition opening, a workshop, a market…you name it and it’s happening!
What fellow designers and crafters from the north do you admire?
I have load of designer friends so this is a difficult question – Here is a very small list…there are many many many more!
- Wrapped by Alice – Sheffield based – Beautiful made gift wrap, cards and wedding bags
- Made by Maria – Sheffield based – Stunningly crafted textile products and original surface designs
- James Green – Sheffield based – A high profile Sheffield based printmaker creating incredible art prints
- Melodies – Leeds based – Jewellery from old and recycled music materials
- Saskia Palmer – Sheffield based – One of the most interesting and creative printmakers around making unique art prints.
- Samantha Groom – Sheffield based – Product based printmaker creating hand printed lino cut wonders
What is the most recent thing you’ve made?
I have just received my order of digitally printed cards and pocket mirrors with custom lino cut designs. These are looking great and are listed on my site now! I am slowly developing a range of wholesale products (which these are part of) so if you are interested in stocking any of my products get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have recently focused on creating art prints – I have started to design and cut a series of mono prints. I am also experimenting with new textile products where I can make use of my custom printed fabrics.
What would be your advice to anyone wanting set up their own craft business?
Just do it! (no I am not trying to steal the tagline from a famous sports brand!) People think too much about setting up a business. I work full time and have managed to start a very successful business…you can too! Don’t think you have to give up your day job, I do have plans to reduce my working hours as my business grow but you can do it in you spare time.
Also create something unique – focus on your own original design, a lot of crafts people use bought in fabrics to make products with but you can’t claim it as your own. Focusing on original surface design means that you can claim your products as totally yours! It also creates a unique selling point!
Check out the full range of Benjamin’s handmade products at his online shop www.folksy.com/shops/TheOwlery
Keep up with The Owlery on TWITTER.