Original Screenprints


This history of Artizan Editions was written by Peter Davies

When Artizan Editions was formed in 1994 by experienced printer and technician Sally Gimson there was a need for another accomplished, accessible and expert workshop able to advise, promote, guide and collaborate with professional, established artists in the production of high quality, and affordable original serigraphs. The market demanded such in an age of escalating prices for one-off original art works by well-known artists. Established in a small converted Victorian mews property, it was not long before the workshop moved to spacious premises within an old art deco perfume factory in Hove. Artizan Editions gained a widespread reputation for creative collaborations with leading artists including the internationally acclaimed painter Bridget Riley, whose colour compositions lent themselves naturally to the crisp, visually strident and colourful medium of screen print. Another hard edged abstract painter, the West-Country based Brian Rice, has also worked productively with the workshop. Owner Gimson is definite in her preference for craftsmanship, authenticity of medium, and uniqueness of expression. A mutually fruitful accord between the creative, conceptual and technical aspects that go to make a clear and convincing screen print is at the heart of all Artizan Edition prints. Gimson is also aware of the controversies attending the age old debate - as between Whistler and Sickert - concerning the criterion of the original, as opposed to production, print.

Gimson describes the sacrosanct collaboration between fine artist and print technician as "like a sort of alchemy" and, out of this winning combination, comes the magical moment when a pristine and resolved image is created. Gimson's decisive intervention invariably resolves technical and aesthetic impasses. It has been stated that "Artizan Editions are fine art screen printers, one of a handful of workshops working in direct collaboration with artists. Gimson strives to follow the ethics of the Arts and Crafts movement which believed in the importance of creative manual work and art as a way of life". In this sense the workshop follows the example of the legendary printer Stanley Jones at Curwen Press, London after 1958. Jones specialised in lithographs but Artizan's allegiance to screen printing has a later, contemporary feel and, to that extent, follows Kelpra, Advanced Graphics and Coriander. Putting to the sword the myth of the artist as solitary genius, Artizan emphasizes the art historical fact that productive studios, from the old masters onwards, are based on teamwork in which technical assistants made decisive contributions. Even a virtuoso genius and overflowing polymath like Picasso used specialists and technical assistants especially in the case of the late graphic flowering marked by his post-1950s lino cut oeuvre for which he used the poster printer Armera.

Artizan's specialisation in screen printing gives it a contemporary ring, a process that hit the limelight at Andy Warhol's screen print Factory. In terms of Pop Art and also hard edge abstract painting, of which Riley's optically vibrant 'Dots and Stripes' are a preeminent example - screen print has become the primary vehicle allowing for photographic or stencil imagery. Gimson's prowess with the oil-based screen print medium came more through long working experience as a commercial graphic designer in advertising than through academic fine art training. She became acutely aware of the missing creative magic in the advertising industry, a gap she aimed to fill with the joys of collaboration and the give and take between aesthetic and technical considerations. She learnt the major print making processes while training at Loughborough as a graphic designer. She later worked for King Publishing in Brighton where the making of reproduction prints based on the work of celebrated moderns like Matisse, Picasso, and Rothko later encouraged experimentation in the adjacent field of original fine art print making.

After redundancy from King Publishing, Gimson resolved to create a fine art screen print enterprise in Hove. Aided with a modest loan from her parents, Gimson started Artizan Editions where hard work, know-how, and a warm, inclusive, and engaging manner saw her enterprise develop and go from strength to strength. During the two decades in Hove, Gimson employed up to four technical assistants and produced as many as 45 Bridget Riley screen prints based on prototype gouache originals. The "most pleasurable aspect", she declared, "is collaborating with artists" and with Riley a mutually rewarding and symbiotic partnership developed where she learnt much about colour and its visual, even optical, dynamics and chromatic interaction. She also learnt from local artist Harvey Daniels and Somerset artist Brian Rice who, she explains, were also "very generous in their knowledge sharing". Yeovil and Goldsmiths trained Brian Rice has brought his long teaching experience to bear in the fruitful collaboration with Gimson. As well as working on West Dorset landscape motifs using his wood engraving skills, Rice has also created colourful, decoratively vibrant abstract screen prints like the Pavilion Series which Artizan Editions has co-published.

She also gained valuable guidance from Bob Saich at Advanced Graphics and Brad Faine at Coriander Studio, two long established artists' printers, alongside whom Gimson has prospered.

Other artists who have also created works with Gimson include the Pop artist Gerald Laing, the successful Danish artist Henrik Simonsen, abstract still life painter Geoffrey Robinson, Graham Dean, and Matt Ensor whose football image 'England's Glory' plays on mass produced pop imagery like a box of matches and England's 1966 solitary World Cup triumph. During the last two decades, Artizan Editions have exhibited their original serigraphs regularly with The Curwen Gallery in Fitzrovia, at art fairs including the Royal College Art, the RA and the Barbican Centre. Many gallery venues around the UK have invited Artizan to exhibit works including St.Ives, Cambridge, Chatsworth, Uppingham, Budleigh Salterton and Ditchling. Gimson moved the workshop from Hove to Coleford in the Forest of Dean in 2014 where she now continues to work in rural Gloucestershire tranquility.