Guest post: Norfolk artist Rob Barnes


As part of Norfolk Day at Jarrold you can meet some of the Norfolk artists behind some of the products available instore. We catch up with one of them, printmaker Rob Barnes whose greetings cards you can find on the ground floor.

When and why did you want to become an artist?

I simply liked the paint box I was given and at school seemed to have some ability. I decided to go to art school for four years, then into teaching and teacher-training where I taught printmaking as a career. I have produced most of my linocuts in the last eleven years since I left the day job. I have a studio at home and a Rochat Albion press.

Why did you start designing greetings cards?

Actually, I have never designed any greetings cards in my life. I was contacted by Green Pebble who wanted to turn some of my existing linocut images into cards. They told me never to design any cards because they really liked what I produced as exhibitable art. They have now produced 76 card images since 2011 and four calendars too.

What inspires your work? How do you come up with ideas for designs?

I am inspired by the Norfolk and Suffolk landscape. I also find the coast and water an inspiration. Most of my work is really about light and colour based on what I see around me. The field opposite our house has wildlife, crop sowing and harvesting so I see hares and marsh harriers, barn owls and horses. I each design I try to include some movement such as birds, animals or water.

Can you describe the process of linocut to us?

After producing a pencil sketch, I scale it up and draw directly on lino with a fine marker pen. From this stage I will move on to using sharp cutters to cut away anything that I do not want to pick up ink. The lino then becomes a surface that has a pattern or image on it and a linoprint is therefore a surface of relief print. I will use up to three different pieces of lino and one of these will be printed in black and carry most of the detail. This is black printing block is called the Key Block. The other blocks of lino will be cut and printed, then cut some more, and reprinted. Layers of colours are built up and there could be as many as six layers of colour including the final black. I cut away more and more from some blocks which means that I have to print the whole edition of prints, usually 45 or 50 and let each layer dry before being overprinted.

What’s your favourite design/s to date?

My favourite designs are often the latest prints I have produced, so at the moment I like Sea Shimmer, and I think the hares in Sunset Chase work quite well.

What can we expect to see when you come instore to celebrate Norfolk Day with us?

I will bring two framed linocuts and some sketches and lino already cut and used. I am working on a new linocut at the moment so will bring that one in too. I will also bring a diagram of the stages of a print.


Rob will be instore as part of the Norfolk Day celebrations on Friday 27 July from 10.30am until 3pm, in the cards and stationery department, ground floor.


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