Printmaking, Uncategorized

Roll Up!

I’m designing a poster inspired by the lyrics to Tom Wait’s The Circus. If you’re not familiar with Waits music or style, go here and here . I can’t guarantee you’ll like what you hear – not many do- it’s an acquired taste (or a bloody racket if you ask Mrs. Lestaret!) but give it a go, because even if you don’t like the voice, you might like the lyrics. It’s one of those tracks of his that is spoken rather than sung, and lays out a tale within a tale, introducing quirky and dishevelled characters against a backdrop of wasted and used-up Americana. Have a listen to the track here, with an unofficial video inspired by the song…

I have been toying with the idea of a series of prints based on Waits characters for a while now, but I have struggled to find a start and a style to work with. At the moment all I have are rough sketches in various notebooks, but I’m fairly sure I’ll revisit these at some point. It was whilst I was listening to Wait’s latest live CD Glitter & Doom for the millionth time (ok, almost every evening whilst doing the washing up)  that I decided upon a circus poster – one of the old traditional ones – that promoted the circus from the song, with visual references to the characters.

I have been trawling the internet for research and there are some excellent websites full of great quality images – I’m not going to list them all here, but  google up ‘circus posters’ and follow your nose!

I intend to produce it as a three colour linocut, about 500 x 260mm, and am currently planning it using using my ‘right-hand’ software Adobe Illustrator. The image used for the header of this post gives an idea of the direction I’m heading. It’s about three quarters complete now, and I hope to begin cutting the blocks soon. Expect a few more posts as I get going, but I don’t think I’ll be printing this one before the summer; it’s about the most ambitious linocut I’ve ever done! I did a large scale single colour linocut back in 1991 for The Sylvanus Trust – 1480x240mm in six sections:

This is quite big for a linocut, but it is only one colour. A click on the image will enlarge it a bit, but nothing like to scale. The circus poster will be pretty tight register too. I don’t imagine for one minute that it will be without it’s fair share of difficulties. Indeed, I expect to be registering somewhere in the mid 290’s:

We’ll see…


5 thoughts on “Roll Up!

  1. Can’t wait to see subsequent posts regarding this. I’m also a Tom Waits fan (and a relief print fan). Are you going to do it as a reduction print or use three blocks? Also, are you planning on selling the prints?
    You’ve got me on the edge of my chair.

    1. Hi Bruce, this will be three blocks – I have just had a real nightmare with a reduction print and need to do something much less ambitious to improve my technique!

      I have about 90% of the design work done now – I’m just tweaking a few details now, but have been working on it so intensely over the last couple of weeks I am a bit sick of seeing it! I have put it to one side for a week or two so I can come back and finish it off with fresh eyes. I expect to start cutting the blocks next month and will post some shots of work in progress.

      As far as the prints are concerned, I don’t intend to do a huge amount, but they will be some for sale. That is if they are any good!

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