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Meet the Maker; Joanna Allen

Meet the Maker

Meet Joanna Allen and look at how she began life as a designer as she explains her love of collagraphy.

Blee de Nuit Joanna Allen, Pedddle

Introducing Joanna Allen, a very talented watercolour and mixed media artist based in the Peak District. Jo has created surface pattern and designs for many well know brands including Boots, Anna French, Papyrus USA, WH Smith, Liberty of London and the National Trust. In this Meet the Maker blog, we look at how she began life as a designer and explains her love of collagraphy.

Where did it begin?

I only began producing my own textile products from my own designs, and selling them at Makers Markets, in early 2017. Although in the past I have produced greeting cards, textiles and tapestry needlepoint designs for other companies, it still feels a bit daunting doing it for myself, but very exciting to be producing my own range (of cushions and scarves).

All of my designs are taken from original artworks, either my watercolour/mixed media paintings, or from collagraph and monoprints that I print myself on my intaglio press, then digitally print onto cotton velvet, 100% linen, and linen union fabrics. My first prototype was a file including my Moon Bird, Hydrangea and Anemone designs. 

I also sell my designs as limited edition prints, giclee prints and greeting cards on my stand, so there is something there for every price bracket.

I have a degree in Printed Textiles from Manchester Uni, and really enjoyed the whole creative process, from developing an idea in a sketchbook to choosing colourways and printing the finished printed lengths of fabric. Now I have total control over every aspect of the design process too, and it is still as exciting as ever!

Where do you work?

I work in my studio on the top floor of my very tall house in New Mills on the edge of the Peak District. At the moment it doubles up as a studio, office and warehouse, as I have so much stuff to store – paints, papers, rolls of fabric… I might have to get a bigger studio one day!

Do you have any work in progress?

At the moment I am concentrating on new scarf designs inspired by Shakespeare, namely the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s dream and Ophelia’s flowers from her final death scene… which sounds gruesome, but is actually just a pretty depiction of English flowers, herbs and weeds!

Do you have a favourite piece to make and/or what is your best seller?

I love creating designs in collagraph. A collagraph is basically a print taken from a collage! I use silver card for any areas which require detailed drawing or textures, but also use different cards, anaglypta wallpaper, lace, textiles and trims, anything really which will help to create a rich textural surface to ink and print from. The surface is then sealed with a thin layer of shellac. I then printed onto soaked Fabriano paper using a traditional printing press. I like to combine different colours in one print, sometimes working into each one at a later stage with watercolours to create a totally unique image, hence each one being an ‘artist’s proof’, rather than a numbered edition. Due to the delicate nature of the collage I am limited to a maximum of 10 print ‘editions’ per collage, and no two are identical!

My best sellers are the different versions of my collagraph Hare prints, and the rather coy Mermaid surrounded by starfish and waves.

Do you have any favourite markets?

I think I enjoy the market at the Lowry best, even though it’s a long day, but it tends to fly by because it’s so much fun. There’s always lots to see and do at the Lowry Maker’s Market , and a different crowd every time too! I will be doing the Christmas one there in November too.