Hello and welcome to the new Heavy Gretel blog series, Folks' Tales. This new series will delve into the worlds of our makers to find out how they make their work, learn about their creative process and peek behind the curtain to hear about who they are and what they do.
First up, we are chatting to Birmingham-based print-maker, Karoline Rerrie.
Karoline holds a screen-printing squeegee with her name on it, ready to print
Could you start by giving us a quick biography of who you are and what you do?
Usually I just say that I’m an illustrator and printmaker based in Birmingham. I originally came here to do a degree in graphic design and stayed... but realised I definitely didn’t want to be a graphic designer or work digitally! So now I’m a screen printer and that’s what I spend most of my time doing.
Tell us a little bit about your design and making process. We’d love to hear about how you formulate your ideas and bring them to reality.
It’s a long process which often starts with the first thing that comes into my head. I’ll do some quick sketches, then draw the design A4 size and rework it a few times until I’m happy. Next I enlarge the drawing to A3, trace it onto an A3 Bristol board and ink it in with fine liner pens. Lastly I’ll scan the artwork and digitally create the layers of colour. But if it’s for a screen print, this is just the beginning and there’s a whole other process to go through... we could be here a while!
Love Cats cards fresh off the screen printing press
What inspired you to start your own business?
I always had a mix of part time teaching jobs and freelance work, but found it hard to get the balance right and difficult to keep changing from one role to another. So about 10 years ago I decided to quit my part time work and specialise in screen printing. My plan was to print my own work alongside running screen print workshops... and that’s what I still do now!
What is the best thing about your job? (And the worst?!)
I’m always inspired by screen printing and really enjoy actually pulling the prints even when it’s challenging! But I worry about making work to sell and the impact it has on the environment.
What is your favourite piece (of yours) that is stocked at Heavy Gretel?
The flower decorations are my favourite, I print and assemble them by hand so they are a real labour of love... but look nice!
Karoline's Flower Decorations in process and the finished product
Aside from making incredible illustrations and screen printed products, what else do you like to get up to?
When ever there’s time I like to go to galleries and see exhibitions. During summer I always try to visit a sculpture show or sculpture park, seeing art outdoors is much more fun than in a gallery.
We are big music nerds here at Heavy Gretel – what music do you enjoy listening to while screen printing?
There isn’t room to screen print in the same room as my record collection so I usually listen to Radio 6. Whenever they play Kraftwerk it’s the perfect soundtrack for screen printing.
A gif of the German band Kraftwerk
What are your future plans for your business?
I’ve been working on winter themed artwork and will probably use some of it for new greetings cards. There are a few older designs I’d also like to update and add to my range of cards ready for Autumn. Last year I screen printed new pink angel decorations but it was too late to supply to any shops or galleries, so I’m planning to print them earlier this year!
Karoline's pink angels on the printing press
Finally: tell us a secret about your job that might surprise our readers.
People are often surprised that my work is drawn by hand and often don’t realise that everything is screen printed by hand including the greetings cards.
Karoline making a screen print of a decorative folk style pair of hands
Thanks for taking the time to chat and answer our questions, Karoline. It has been really interesting to read about your process and the time that goes in to creating your work. It's always a pleasure to work with you because you make such wonderful work!
If you'd like to see more of Karoline's work, we currently stock a range of her greetings cards and decorations. Soon coming to the shop will be a range of prints as well!