The Art of Linoleum Block Printing in Singapore by Westside Prints
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Based in Singapore, Westside Prints found linoleum block printing to be a great creative outlet outside of the day-to-day graphic design studies at school.
“Happy Booze Day!” “Welcome to reality!” are the types of birthday cards that Chen prints in his studio. If you like smart sayings and humorous comics that make you smile and then smile again, you’ll like Westside Prints where each hand-carved linocut print art comes from mindful observations and succinct expressions of a graphic designer. How are linocut art prints and graphic design different, and how do they inspire each other? Here’s what Chen thinks.
1. What is the style and the brand message of Westside Print?
There is no particular style in the Westside Print as we aim to work towards an experimental portfolio. The works in the shop varies from illustration to typography. As a graphic design student, all the works are often related to the design culture and are closely related to my daily life. The brand message of Westside Prints is “quality handmade goods”. All of our products are crafted by hand with quality check every time to ensure our customers only get the good products.
2. From “Welcome to Reality” to “Happy Booze Day”, your graphic designs easily make people smile. How do you find humor in life?
For me, humor comes in many forms. Take a look around and observe the people. Take a long bus ride or train ride and listen to daily conversations. That’s how I find humor from my life. It’s interesting to also look at online comments, puns and videos. It’s in the daily activities that you will find humor and apply it to design.
3. What is the “west side” of Singapore where you are based in? How does it inspire you?
The western part is often deemed as boring and I wish to change this stereotype.
West side in Singapore is actually a non-creative part of Singapore. The life in the western part of Singapore is actually a industrial area compare to the creative cluster in the center of Singapore. The western part is often deemed as boring and I wish to change this stereotype. Hence, I name my brand as Westside Prints, staying true to my roots of producing work in the west of Singapore.
4. Where do you find all the ideas and topics for your designs? Share with us your favorite piece of work.
As mentioned previously, my ideas and topics revolve around my daily life. I am currently looking to go in a general direction for my brand. My favorite piece of work would be “Wipe Till Your Ass Shine”, the toilet paper print.
This is inspired by the Chinese saying of “having someone wipe your butt”, meaning to have someone clean up your mess. This piece of work constantly reminds me that I shouldn’t be doing work halfway and I should get it done properly. It can be viewed plainly as a funny sentence, or as a print with a deeper meaning. It requires two layers of understanding to fully understand the poster.
5. How do you manage to run Westside Prints while still in school?
I am running Westside Prints on a monthly basis for now, because being in a design school, the school projects can easily drain me out. I like to work on my linocuts and use it as a form of de-stress. It also serves as another platform for me to do hands-on work as compared to graphic design nowadays which relies heavily on computer graphics.
New ideas sometimes also come from my school projects, such as portraits of graphic designers. They are a big inspiration for me while I was studying my first year in university.
6. Would you be interested in collaborations or customized projects? What would be your dream work?
Collaborations and customized works are definitely my goals. I think they are the best to expand my horizon and to reach out to other designers beyond Singapore.
Collaborative work is my next target for Westside Prints as I see many potentials in turning illustrations to linocut prints.
My dream work is to publish a book that is printed out by linocut printmaking. The next dream work will be to carve and print for movie posters like how they did it in the old times.
7. Between today’s technology of 3D printing to laser cutting, why do you still choose linocut printmaking?
3D printing and laser cutting are very technology-reliant and mechanical. Every inch of the printing looks rather dead with no human touch to it. I choose linocut printmaking as a craft that is very accessible and easy to pick up. In addition, linocut printmaking builds up my patience because each individual piece requires dedication and time to carve. It is a good form of craft that hones different aspects of your skills.
8. Lastly, please give some words of advice to aspiring designers!
Do not be afraid to try. Stop thinking so much, go on and experiment!
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