Interview: Printmaking with Sophie Rae

detail of a person using a roller in printmaking

Sophie Rae is an illustrator and printmaker based in Bristol. She regularly runs workshops in the city and works freelance for a variety of clients. We caught up with her following one of her family printmaking workshops at the RWA.

Where did you study and how did you get into printmaking?

I studied illustration at the Arts University Bournemouth. However, it wasn’t until my final year at university that I began experimenting in the print room. They have these rollers (points to hand-held roller) and I just thought they were amazing. I’ve been playing around with them ever since.

Did you start teaching straight away?

No, not straight away, it was maybe a couple of years after I got here (Bristol). I teach all ages! I do kids and adults workshops. The printmaking I do is quite a versatile process – you can do really, really detailed prints, multi layered prints and cut all different types of stencils, so it’s good for adults too. You are able to make something very specific if you want, or there’s the possibility of making something a bit more abstract.

Is this what you do full time? And where do you work on your own projects?

I mainly teach workshops and make prints to sell and sometimes do illustration commissions. The amount of time I spend on teaching varies massively. I teach at lots of different places around Bristol, including at schools. I have a studio at Hamilton House. It’s great and central and there’s lovely people there. I’ve had a studio there for a few years now and I can’t imagine working anywhere else, or imagine leaving it any time soon!

What were you doing in today’s workshop?

Today was abstract printing with stencils. We have used lovely printing inks and these special printing rollers, which are quite squishy so they allow the ink to get into all the corners of the stencil, giving you a nice sharp line. People were playing around with drawing different shapes, cutting those shapes into stencils and then they would layer up different shapes on the page to create a multi-layered, colourful print.

Why do you think being creative is important for families and kids?

I think it gives them time to play around and experiment. Doing something new and learning a new process gives you a real sense of satisfaction. I think it’s a really rewarding and important thing for parents and kids to do together, because they get to have fun and help each other out.

Is that something you remember doing as a kid?

I guess I don’t remember going to workshops when I was younger. I don’t actually really remember having those opportunities, which I think is why I find teaching workshops now so great. When I see parents bring their kids along I’m like, “that’s so nice!” I have to say, getting invited along to schools as ‘the artist’ is really strange!

Do you have any exhibitions coming up?

At the moment I’ve  got work up at Bocabar on the Bath Road. Then I will be exhibiting at Pramer Arts, which is just north of Bristol and is a really lovely place. After that I’m going to have a few bits at Musgrove hospital, near Taunton, which will be for a shoreline exhibition.

Sophie will be teaching a Colourful Collage Workshop at the RWA on Thursday 2 June, 10.30am. Find out more about Sophie’s work on her website