Trevor Sutton: Prints

12 April - 5 May 2020

The following is a transcript of an interview between Jo Gorner and Trevor Sutton, the London - based painter and printmaker, that was published in Printmaking Today, Spring Issue, 2016. 


JG: What place does printmaking have in your expressive practice and does this role differ from that of your painting?


TS: Print is an integral part of my practice, painting and print rest together in my creative language. Print forms a bridge in the development process of a body of work. I may use an idea in a painting, then introduce it into a print and then back into a painting, sometimes over several years. I have a creative relationship with a print that allows for great experimentation. I create risks and surprises within painting, whereas the print process inherently creates its own ‘risks’. Print is an immediate medium for me. A painting takes a long time to complete and may often change. Within painting there is a gradual revelation. In print I constantly encounter memories of surprise, due to the nature of the process. Working blind, overprinted colour variations and image reversal create far less predictable outcomes. I see a 'faster’ shorthand to print what otherwise would be painted and drawn more slowly.  I generally know when a painting has reached a conclusion, whereas with a print this is sometimes more debatable; it becomes a ‘to and fro’ between printed layers and multiple variations of a central theme.


JG Your prints are a collaborative process How does that work?


TS When I work with master printmakers on editions or unique prints, collaboration is essential, We share technical skills and knowledge in a way that is completely opposite to the slow, solitary process of making paintings in my studio. These collaborations help me develop innovative variations of studio paintings and drawings and can also introduce sio entirely new visual possibilities. However, I do print on my own sometimes, printing simple transfers from painted boards onto paper.


JG When working with master printmakers, how has the use of the medium evolved?


TS I first made monotypes in the late 1980s with Garner Tullis in Santa Barbara and New York. Working with Garner was a liberating experience, he was a fearless master printer who wanted to break down the barriers between painting and printmaking. I worked directly onto aluminium, plastic or wood with an oil paint mixture, these painted surfaces were then printed onto thick hand-made pulp paper using an industrial hydraulic press exerting huge pressure, the image did not sit on top of the paper but was literally forced into it. I loved this physical, hands-on process.  I made my first linocut portfolio edition with Matthew Tyson at Ka! Editions. I liked the book-like narrative it set up and subsequent editions followed with Hope Sufferance Press, London and with Kip Gresham at the Print Studio Cambridge. I have made many large screenprinted monoprints and editioned screen prints with Kip. Recent editions with him have proved to be a significant bridge between my collage paintings and grid works.