Libby Clark spoke to us about her time as a School of Visual Communication student and going on to work in a screen printing role.
When you started university, did you have a career path in mind?
Before university I wanted to be an in-house Graphic Designer working digitally, within a creative team. However, during university we had the opportunity to explore many different areas to graphic design, including branding, editorial, website design and print-based design, which was where my interest in screen printing began.
What did you choose to study at BCU?
I chose to study Visual Communication at BCU because I was not entirely sure whether I wanted to study Illustration or Graphic Design. The course was great because at the beginning of the first year you could explore three different areas — Illustration, Graphic Design and Animation — before deciding which one you would like to continue learning for the rest of the course. This definitely helped me to understand which direction I wanted to go down.
Since graduating what industry experience have you gained and what projects have you been working on?
During my residency after graduating, I was able to work independently creating my own briefs. I used that opportunity to create a portfolio I could use to try and get myself a screen printing job. Near the end of the residency, I sent my portfolio to Get a Grip Screen printers where I was offered an interview, which quickly led to the start of a very exciting printing career.
Throughout this job I have had the opportunity to print for many different types of customers from tote bags and tee-shirts prints for local businesses and creatives, to yoga mat printing for Vivienne Westwood, sold on her online store.
What did your Artist in Residency position at BCU involve and why did you choose to do it?
Artist in Residency really appealed to me because it allowed me to explore my interest in screen printing further. Working independently, I was able to focus on areas I really enjoyed and work on developing my skills and techniques. Alongside this, I was able to teach screen printing workshops in the studio which have definitely helped me prepare for the workshops we will be holding at Get a Grip next year.
What does your current role at Get a Grip involve?
My role at Get a Grip is very hands-on and fast-paced; we print with water based inks which can dry in quickly so it requires acting quickly during the print run, and quick problem-solving if something unexpected were to happen. My job is to ensure the print run goes smoothly and the work that is being produced is to a consistent high standard. Aside from printing, my role also covers: teaching and managing apprentices, preparing artwork sent in by customers, coating, exposing and reclaiming screens, mixing customer specific paper and garment inks, setting up and printing on the three printing machines (the automatic, the manual and the paper printing bed) and often experimenting with special effects inks, such as reflective or gloss inks.
What advice would you give to students thinking to apply for a course at the School of Visual Communication?
To keep an open mind. There are so many different areas of graphic design, so be curious and experiment as much as you can. University offers so many opportunities from the use of equipment to different room spaces which are not so easy find, or quite expensive in comparison to the facilities available at BCU.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
My proudest achievement to date is definitely getting my job at Get a Grip! I admire working for a screen printing company who aim to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as they can. My bosses are incredibly earth conscious people, and the business strongly reflects that; this year, Get a Grip won the award 'Europe's most sustainable t-shirt and garment printing company'.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My aspiration for the future is to focus more on Press and Print, a brand I produce and sell work under. I would love to have my own little studio where I can print my own paper prints and expand into accessories and home-ware. So far I have mainly focused on paper printing however, I would love to experiment with bags and notepads etc.