Flexographic Wallpaper Printing. May 18 2017

It's been a while since I did a behind the scenes on wallpaper printing so here a few pictures to show you what happens after the wallpaper rollers are engraved. 
The first step is to mix the paint for the pad or background colour. 
This is the rich purple for Beetlenut. Looks a bit messy doesn't it? 
ink mixing
The background colour is then applied with a blank roller. The image below is the gorgeous teal green which is one of my all time favourite colours. 
wallpaper printing
Then, the exciting bit! The engraved roller is used to apply the design. In this case, glorious metallic gold.
metallic bug wallpaper
I'm so in awe of this wonderful traditional process. The detail is absolutely phenomenal. Due to the nature of my work and the tiny dots I was concerned some of the finer parts would be lost or smudged or blurred in some way. I am pleased to say the outcome was just as I had hoped. 
As much as I love digital printing for the scope it gives me (far more colours, shorter print runs and smaller minimum orders etc) flexographic printing will always be very special to me.
It's a little bit magic. 

Roller Engaving - Part 2 November 26 2014

Last week I wrote about receiving the digital proofs for my wallpaper designs and changing some aspects to finalise ready for the rollers to be engraved.

This week I received images showing the process of creating the rollers which was really fascinating to see, mostly because I was finally getting somewhere with making my wallpaper a reality. Can I call myself an artist yet?!

Anyway, I digress. Here we can see a blank roller ready to be engraved.



Not much to look at at this stage.

These next images show the laser burning away the rubber. I bet that's a delightful smell!



Here you can see the design showing, but still covered in rubber dust. The laser burns away everything outside the design down by about 2mm, leaving the design in relief.



The roller is washed before being tested on a proof. This raised design is what is inked to create the wallpaper pattern, shown below in 'The Froghoppers Reflection'.



All I have to do now is make a final decision on colours and my wallpapers will be born...


Roller Engraving - Part 1 November 24 2014

I'm halfway through the journey of printing my first batch of wallpapers. Allow me to invite you into my brain and see what's been happening this week!

As I may have mentioned before I have decided to print my wallpapers flexographically. Screen printing wouldn't capture the level of detail in my inky drawings and digital, well, it's just not quite as satisfying as the traditional methods.

I sent my digital files off to the engravers and they sent me back some proofs in the post. This was a great way for me to see my designs in the correct scale and play around with a few colour options.

There were a few changes to be made straight away.

Detail from 'Beetlenut'


The scale of 'Beetlenut' has now been halved and the horizontal gap closed. I added more beetles and flowers to 'The Froghoppers Reflection' which meant going back to the drawing board a few times.


Detail from 'The Froghoppers Reflection'


"The Tangled Hawkmoth' was originally the one I was least pleased with, but it turns out it was also the one I didn't have to change anything on.


Detail from 'The Tangled Hawkmoth'


I chose to print my designs flexographically because it best suited my style of drawing. Screen printing would have inevitably missed some of the finer details. Digital is a great, modern way to print with many advantages. One being that you can often mix and match designs and have very low minimum order quantities. I may still use digital printing for custom orders. This means I will still be able to offer people other colour ways in addition to my main range.

However, I also chose flexographic printing for the colour options. Specifically, metallics. I wanted those rich gold, silver, copper and brass hues that I just couldn't get with digital printing. I was also really pleased that I could keep the manufacturing in the UK and support our local economy whilst reducing the need for sending my products overseas which only adds to a company's carbon footprint.

Next week I'll show you the step by step process of my rollers being engraved. I still have to finalise colours, then the printing begins!


How I got my grant approved October 15 2014

My grant has been approved.

There are some great schemes out there but navigating through all the red tape to find one that suits is exhausting. However, I persevered, and I'm so glad I did. All the cashflow forecasting, profit and loss sheets and business plans weren't quite as tedious as I imagined. They also helped me to confront some of the less fun sides of running your own business. Unfortunately it's not all gathering inspiration and creating art.

I now have the funds in place to engrave rollers to have my wallpaper printed using traditional methods in England. This means I don't have to compromise on quality or colours and can also keep the price as reasonable as possible for my customers. Had I not been awarded the funds I would have had to print digitally. Although there is very little initial outlay it I would have had to drop any metallic inks from my designs and charged 3 times more for my finished product. Not a very appealing way to unleash my art on the world.

I'll be posting further updates on my progress here, so check back to see how my much awaited wallpaper finally comes into existence. I could not be more excited to see my vision become a reality, and I would urge any creatives out there to find ways to do the same. The opportunities are out there, you just need to put yourself in a position to find them.


A few tips I would offer are -


-Network. Join your local chamber of commerce or see what informal events are out there. Don't just go to events for artists though, connect with people who do business in other areas and could use your expertise.

-Research grants. Think outside the box, contact your local council and ask for advice. If you see a grant that doesn't quite fit, get in touch with them and find out if they know about any other schemes that you could benefit from.

-Put yourself out there. In this connected world you can use all manner of free social media platforms to spread the word about your project.

-Ask for funding. Try a crowd funding site like Kickstarter. Make a strong campaign and see what you can raise.

-Never give up and always follow your ideas through. The people who successfully run their own businesses put their heart and soul into their enterprises, and they take care of the boring tasks as well as the fun ones!

Good luck!