Studio Visit: Kaylene Alder

Studio Visit: Kaylene Alder
Kaylene preparing to print Cameras at the Peckham Print Studio

Kaylene preparing to print Cameras at the Peckham Print Studio

My good friend and illustrator extraordinaire Kaylene Alder and I currently have a joint exhibition up at Studio 73 Brixton Village. While I have been working on the Dogs Of Warwick Gardens, Kaylene has been producing a collection of screen prints of collections. I dropped by to see her pulling some prints at Peckham Print Studio and ask her a few questions about her work...

How did you decide to become an Illustrator?

I did a degree in fine arts a million years ago in Montreal but wasn't brave enough to attempt to make a full time living out of it. I went travelling and eventually ended up in London doing my teacher training but was still making things whenever I got a chance. 

I realised about 7 years ago that I wanted to try and make art more of a job than a hobby and took a short course in illustration at Central St. Martins. Illustration really clicked with me and I've been determinedly carving out a career in it ever since. 

Illustration feels very communicative and open to me where as I have always struggled to approach fine art with the required amount of gravitas. I enjoy working to a brief and the collaborative nature of working with illustration clients.

Your project for our upcoming exhibition is titled Collection. Why did you choose this subject?

If I had the time, money, space I would collect all manner of things. I would have to live in a really really big house. As I don't, I've always been fascinated by people who have collections, particularly those people who collect every day kinds of objects. 

For the exhibition I contacted people on the tinterweb who collected objects I thought would be fun to draw. They then sent me images of their favourite pieces as well as some answers to questions about how / why their collections came to be. It's been really interesting and I've loved drawing these special objects. 

I also wanted to play around a bit with composition as I can be very drawn to the centre of pages. Drawing collections allowed me to be more playful with placement.

How long have you been at Peckham Print Studio and how did you get into screen printing?

I've been at PPS a little over 2 years now. I did some screen printing at university and really enjoyed it but had forgotten most of it so I took a refresher workshop at the studio and fell in love with it all over again. I've always enjoyed creating multiples of things and screen printing is a brilliant and visceral way of replicating images. There are so many variables that each print is ever so slightly different so, in a way, each print is also an original. There's also a quality to a screen print that you just don't get with a digital print. 

The guys at the studio do amazing commercial work and are always sharing tips and tricks with me so I never stop learning about the process.

Water, ink, overalls, spray guns, mess - what's not to love?!

Screen alley

Screen alley

What's your process when you're making a screen print?

I draw everything with my trusty mechanical pencil to start. I then go over the drawing with a black pen before scanning it in to Photoshop and tidying things up. I use Photoshop to create the colour layers so I have a jpeg of what the finished print will look like. I then convert all the colour layers to black and send them to the fellas at PPS to print onto acetates with their flash new positives printer.

Once at the studio, I'll coat my screens with photo-sensitive emulsion and expose the colour layers onto them separately using the exposure unit.

When all the layers are exposed and the emulsion is washed out. I mix my colours and print one colour layer at a time onto paper. The trickiest bit is always my final layer - the dreaded thin black line - which I try to ensure is registered (lined up) with everything else. It's not always perfect but I enjoy the hand-made-ness of the imperfections.

Washing out a screen in the washout area

Washing out a screen in the washout area

Close it gently

Close it gently

The positives for Camera by Kaylene Alder

The positives for Camera by Kaylene Alder

Peckham Print Studio

Peckham Print Studio

Coating a screen with emulsion

Coating a screen with emulsion

Lining up the next layer

Lining up the next layer

Flooding the screen

Flooding the screen

Pulling a print, gazing into the mirror of ink

Pulling a print, gazing into the mirror of ink

Hmmm...

Hmmm...

It's not quite there yet

It's not quite there yet

Besides being an Illustrator and a Screen Printer you are also an Art Teacher. What's that like?

Challenging. I teach art at a primary school in Hackney and I love love love it but it is never easy or straightforward. 

I strongly believe in exposing children to as many different materials as early as possible so we work with everything from paint to clay to linocut to recycled materials. I am not a fan of the Blue Peter recipe approach (sorry Blue Peter!) so I try to give the children lots of experience with the materials so they can be as creative as possible when they make work. We usually create things inspired by an artist or a theme but it's important that they are making lots of choices and solving problems as they go. It can be tricky to inspire them to push themselves but on the plus side, we never end up with 30 of the same thing. 

My favourite part of teaching art is being constantly surprised. Kids think of things I would never think of and the pure expression of their work is really exciting.

Just before she sprayed me with the hose

Just before she sprayed me with the hose

Check out KayleneAlder.com for more info on her work and all the latest news.

Come and see our exhibition at Studio 73 next time you're in Brixton Village, or join us for a drink at the private view on Friday 6:30pm!

#akprintshow #studiovisit