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The Art of Slowing Down

The printmaker who uses ancient artistic techniques to slow down in the modern world 

Brian Park is a printmaker, who runs a busy workshop at the Edinburgh College of Art. Together with his students, they create Etchings, Screen-prints, Woodcuts, Risographs & Lithographs all under the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.  

“Every day is unique in the workshop. From printing holographic inks onto bamboo skateboards to using ground-down Northumberland coal to print photo-etchings of post-industrial landscapes.” 

Some of their print presses date back to the 1800s and work as well today as when they were first crafted! We appreciate anything well made so we asked Brian about his approach as a modern-day printmaker...  

What is my approach as a maker? 

Slowing down. We don’t spend enough effort these days to take time doing the things we love. As the world becomes digitally reliant and more machine efficient, we increasingly feel the need to keep up. And it’s tiring! Physically and emotionally. Mental health is suffering as our natural pace of life is picked up and washed away on the tide of multi-level digital platforms and software updates. 

Making something with real, physical materials, specialist equipment, old-school alchemy and attention to detail allows me the space to slow life down. To immerse myself in a moment that is timeless. The process of making a print will not allow for shortcuts. There aren't any undo buttons. But it allows me an experience that is rich in detail. My senses are awake again. If I hope to realise my ideas, I need to respond to the materials and discover the detail but it’s at a pace I can follow, a pace dictated by the medium. Rushing the process defeats the purpose of the journey, which in many ways is more rewarding than the destination.   

Printmaking is a process that demands ritual, repetition and practice. A particular set of muscle memories that allow you to use the process as a language to convey your intent. The deeper the understanding of the craft, the more power you have to say what you want to say and with an eloquence that is all your own.   

I feel that all well-crafted objects have a presence and a power. Whether it be an ancient tribal artifact, a unique piece of furniture, a perfectly balanced tool or the clothing you choose to wear.    

I wear clothes that have purpose and a pedigree. If form follows the function, I look for that in what I wear. The clothes I wear need to be practical and unafraid of getting a few extra splodges of ink, it all adds to the character. I wear my &SONS pieces almost every day in my workshop.  

Working in clothing made well by those who know their craft, materials and intent is a pleasure to inhabit. Slow down. Dress for the occasion, live in the moment and most of all, enjoy the journey.

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