3.8 Geisha punk: Reduction Linocut

The Brief

To cut and print a multi-coloured linoprint from a single block of lino. Select two prints of the reduction lino that have even-printed ink quality and excellent registration. Each print should be clear and have clean edges and a good print quality. Write a brief critical statement describing your choice of subject, colours and your opinion of the final print.

Include in your submission:

  • the two prints of a reduction method linocut
  • your brief critical statement

To support these prints you will have notes from your learning log.

Geisha Punk: Critical Assessment

For this assignment I was aiming to do a print in the style of more traditional Japanese woodcut, but using an image from modern Japan from my sketchbook. I had quite a few photos from a visit to Japan of young Japanese and the way they see traditional Japanese styles and subvert them for their own lives today.

I started by looking through my photos, selecting a number for consideration. But by far the most interesting image was the one below of a group of girls – one Goth with spiky hair, one in traditional dress with kimono and fan, and the third with punk pink hair and a mobile phone. I also liked the way the girls were so wrapped up in their own world – I am not sure who they were ringing. I experimented with cropping and did some digital sketches in different formats. On the sketches I also experimented digitally with a range of different colour combinations from traditional Japanese prints. I did not want a print with just black clothes like the photo, but something much more traditionally colourful that would look like a woodblock print. I also practised sketching Japanese faces and clothing using some of my other photos.

I am very pleased with the final print as my first attempt at a reduction cut – I like the image itself a lot with the contrast between traditional and modern Japan and the personal interest of the girls. I like also the woodcut effect of the cutting I did. I achieved a range of markmaking, and the shapes and faces are clear. I achieved this by doing a lot of frottage impressions as I went, particularly for the hands and face of the woman in the middle. I like the way different colours show through the cutting when it is just a hair off-registration.

The print quality I achieved was also very good. I did the printing as part of a 2-day course on etched linocut because at that time I did not have access to a printing press. It was a big advantage to have a proper relief press which made registration easy. Getting an even print was not always easy though because the press was old and had a dip in it. But I go used to that by the final and crucial print layer. There were also some quite large lino plates to use – larger than I originally intended. Although the one I chose was in a different format from my sketch, it was easy to quickly change my sketch to suit. The inks available were oil-based and there were also very large rollers, all of which helped to get a quality print – despite the rather hectic environment and often dirty equipment.

In drawing the design on the lino I paid particular attention to the composition to make sure the lines focused on the phone and the girl’s hand was on the rule of thirds intersection. To point to questions about what might be being said. After my colour experiments, I still chose to go with my first idea of white, pink, green and black with a mid-tone purple.

All in all pretty pleased. With hindsight I could have made things less static – though that was also part of Japanese dignity and culture. I could maybe also have mixed the black rather than using black ink – but black ink is also part of Japanese tradition. So for this print I thing this was appropriate. But things to think about for other prints in future.

Process: cropping the photos

Developing the theme: further sketches for faces, clothes and colour


Digital sketches

First Sketch

Colour experiments to explore other possibilities

Developing the plate

Printing process

Final prints


Other Sketchbook Ideas and Experiments

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