Meet the Printmaker:
We were excited to catch up with Hayley Anderson, lino print artist, to find out more about her printmaking business, the challenges of running her business in different continents, her amazing workshops, and how her daughter is following in her footsteps.
Hayley also wrote the ‘How to make a Monstera Leaf Lino Print’ blog, so check it out for some great hints and tips!
what prompted you to set up your own printmaking business?
I had originally studied Fine Art which included Printmaking but after finishing my studies I found that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I began a career as a retail manager and then worked in the Beauty industry. It was only when my husband accepted a secondment to work in Dubai that I finally found time to revisit my artistic roots.
Before leaving Scotland, I had bought an Essdee Lino Cutting and Printing Kit and began to experiment with the different types of Lino. I will be very truthful and say my first attempt which was a tiny cactus stamp was terrible! I persevered and slowly improved.
After a few months I had settled into my new desert home, it was when new friends visited my home and noticed my prints drying that is was suggested I start selling them.
how did you get into lino fabric printing?
My progression into fabric printing came about when a friend set up a community project called Boomerang Bags, part of a larger organisation from Australia which repurposes unwanted fabrics into reusable bags to replace single use carrier bags in local stores. We had received a large donation of plain white cotton and I took on the project of designing and printing onto the plain fabric to create bespoke bags to sell and fund our project. They were a huge success and between my own social media and promotion from The Sustainable City where we lived our group began to gain more and more attention – we were even filmed for The Discovery Channel in the Middle East.
Soon after I was approached by a local craft company who delivered workshops around Dubai to facilitate a fabric printing workshop. It was a real turning point for me as I had never pictured myself teaching and despite being terrified I found that I loved it! After producing a few for the craft company I decided to formulate and deliver my own classes.
Around the same time, I was approached to create a range of bags to be sold at a local boutique store. It was a massive learning curve trying to produce a product to retail standards and finding materials in Dubai that were ethically and sustainably made but that first batch of bags were beautiful and I can’t tell you how proud I was to see them stocked in store.
Nine months later and my classes were gaining a wider audience and my bags were being sold from 3 outlets in Dubai, I felt I had grown a sustainable creative business. It was at this point disaster struck and my husband was made redundant and along with the job went the Visa that allowed us to live in the United Arab Emirates so back to Scotland we went.
what have you been up to since returning to scotland?
I have now been back in Scotland for two years and it’s amazing to see how far Buff and Blue has come. Highlights include collaborating with the first zero waste shop in my area to produce reusable bags, being featured in a home decor shoot and creating bespoke product bags for an Australian Skincare company.
2020 also saw me re-evaluate how I wanted to move forward with printmaking, and I returned to University to continue my studies in Fine Art. I have recently completed 2nd year of the BA Hons Fine Art at Moray School of Art, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. It’s been a challenge to juggle my studies with work and family, but I absolutely love it and have seen such an improvement in the quality of my work being inspired by my tutors and peers.
What inspired your company name – buff and blue?
When thinking of a business name I wanted something simple and easy to remember with a link to my Scottish heritage. Buff and Blue comes from a line of the poem ‘Here’s a Health to Them That’s Awa’ by Robert Burns, Scotlands’ National Bard.
you set up your business whilst you were living in dubai and you now live in scotland, how does running a business compare in the two countries?
Regulations and Permits in the UAE when it comes to setting up a business are quite strict and very expensive especially when you have your own website. I found the easiest way to have an online store and payment gateway was to set up an Etsy page. Etsy was not widely used but it allowed a more international audience than similar pages in the Gulf Region, so it worked for me. One big difference which we take for granted in the UK is that there is not the same structure with the Postal System meaning that everything must be couriered for delivery which does affect business costs.
Setting up in the UK was so much easier in comparison to the UAE. Being previously self-employed in the UK it was just a case of re-registering with HMRC, finding relevant insurance for my products and classes and finding new places to host workshops. Luckily, I’ve some lovely venues within local businesses to work with since my return.
Next up was setting up my own website – something I hadn’t been able to do before because of licensing costs in Dubai. Due to budget constraints I chose to build the website myself using templates from my web host. I am no tech genius and I had never done anything like it before. It took a few weeks but looking at it now makes me proud that everything from the products, photographs and website were 100% me.
Tell us more about your workshops.
I run a variation of Lino printing workshops in the Morayshire area in the North East of Scotland. They vary from stamp carving and card printing to textile block printing.
Last year I had plans to expand my geographical area into parts of Aberdeenshire and over to the Highlands with some fantastic new venues including a historical country house, a beautiful barn on a farm and a workshop inside some botanical gardens. Unfortunately, COVID has put those plans on hold until it’s safe to do so. I’ll be offering different types of classes including pashmina printing, linen table runners, produce bag printing as well as my usual classes. My aim is to make craft classes fun and accessible. All of my classes are designed for beginners to take part and even if you don’t consider yourself artistic you can still produce some pretty incredible pieces.
You have run some stamping and Lino Printing Classes for local seniors. Can you tell us about them?
I was asked by the Royal Voluntary Service to facilitate some classes as part of their ‘First Time for Everything’ project which offers local seniors the chance to try out an activity which otherwise they may not have the opportunity. These classes encourage older people to stay active, engaged and connected to the community. In these workshops I offered simple Lino stamp carving and printing as well as block printing with Essdee Print Foam which was an alternative for those with disabilities or dexterity issues. It is such a fantastic project and completely free for participants and an absolute joy for me to be part of.
It looks like your daughter is following in your printmaking footsteps, how did she get into printmaking?
My daughter Robyn is 6 and is already a keen printmaker which I love although its not always helpful when I’m working on a project and she insists its her turn!
At her age she’s not quite ready to be let loose with a gouge despite her insistence that she’s big enough. At first she used to watch me work – she was only 2 when I set up my business in Dubai – and would get to use my stamps with the leftover ink but as she got older she wanted to make her own designs. Discovering Essdee Printfoam was a lifesaver and now whenever I’m working when she’s home from nursery she will very likely be printing right along next to me.
Her big brother Noah also loves to print and now that he’s 11 he will carve and print his own stamps and has big plans to print his own T-shirts.
Where can we see more of your work?
My work can be viewed on my Facebook or Instagram pages. I like to post up a lot of process videos which gives an insight into how the individual pieces are made. I find it inspirational to look at the pages of other printmakers and am continuously learning techniques from others. I hope that by sharing my process it will help others get involved with the craft.
Where can we buy your prints?
My prints are available to buy directly from my website where I’ve built up quite a range and several different collections. My inspiration tends to come from my surroundings so my collections are a reflection of this, from ‘Alba Gu Bràth’ which is inspired by Scotland’s Natural beauty and long history to ‘Arabian Nights’ which is a celebration of the Middle East and the culture I fell in love with.
How can we attend one of your workshops?
My regular workshops can be booked through my website. When restrictions allow, I plan to schedule at least one date per month in my local area. I also offer private sessions to groups whether it’s a craft group, corporate team building or just a bunch of friends who fancy trying something new. I find it exciting crafting a class to suit individual needs and am always blown away by the gorgeous results that are produced.
Image credits: Photography Hayley Anderson
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