Leeds Print Workshop
Leeds Print Workshop is a new hub for printmaking in Leeds, building a creative community and offering unique and affordable access to print.
The Leeds Print Workshop journey started back in 2015, when a group of artists and educators got together with a plan to fill a gap in arts provision in Leeds. What was missing: an open space for anyone to enjoy printmaking. After many meetings, cups of tea and biscuits, the plan took shape: we would form a co-operative. East Street Arts found us an amazing city centre location, we ran a successful fundraising campaign, and Leeds Print Workshop was born.
Printmaking is a fun, complex, accessible way to make art, but it does require space, guidance, and specialised equipment like printing presses. It isn’t something that’s easy to do solo. We offer facilities for monoprint, linocut, collograph, bookbinding, drypoint, and screenprint for fabric and paper, among other techniques. As well as catering for all the established printmakers out there in Leeds, we also run classes to bring new people to the medium – and these book up fast!
Anyone over the age of 16 is welcome to become a member of Leeds Print Workshop. We keep membership costs as low as possible, with income going towards running costs, materials and equipment. Leeds Print Workshop has been lucky to have the generosity and engagement of the community, we’ve greatly benefited from donations of time, money and equipment.
Leeds Print Workshop officially opened in October 2016, and since then we’ve been growing rapidly. We now have 75 members, and hundreds of people have taken our courses. As a co-operative, Leeds Print Workshop is run by volunteers – we have over 2,800 hours of volunteer time under our belts since October. Decisions are made by group consensus at committee meetings. We consult the wider membership at our AGM, and any member can apply to be on the committee. The idea is to make an organisation that’s as transparent and accessible as possible.
We’ve been surprised at the wide range of people who make use of Leeds Print Workshop. Through connections with Leeds College of Art, Leeds University, and Leeds Beckett, we imagined that art students who had graduated would love Leeds Print Workshop, because they could carry on making print work with us. And that’s true, but folks of a much wider range of ages, backgrounds, interests and skills have joined up with us.
A key point in our mission statement is building connections with other creative communities throughout Leeds, and we feel we’re achieving that already. We’ve run workshops at events like the LGBT History Month event at Leeds Museum; partnered with Leeds Industrial Museum for some historical printing; and paired up with East Street Arts, Tandem, Ham and Friends and others to stage exhibitions.
We feel like we’ve helped shape the vibrant creative community that’s growing in Leeds. And of course, Leeds Print Workshop in itself will continue to to help all sorts of people get happily creative.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
If we were to gain Grassroots Giving funding, we propose to invest it in our screenprinting equipment. We would buy a stock of screens that could be used at the workshop for many years to come.
Screenprint is a fast, fun and versatile method of printing. You can screenprint on both fabric and paper (or more or less any flat surface, in fact). Screenprint can mean clothing and totebags, or fine art prints. You can find it on the t-shirt you’re probably wearing right now, or on the prints of Andy Warhol.
Given its versatility, screenprint is one of the most popular printmaking methods we offer at Leeds Print Workshop. Our members love it, and the courses we run in screenprint are our most popular.
The main element in screenprint is, of course, the screen. Unfortunately, screens can be one of the most expensive investments that a print workshop can make. Leeds Print Workshop has gotten this far with an assortment of donated and second hand screens; but moving forward we would greatly benefit from a dedicated stock of new screens for course and workshop use.
With the £500 grant available through Grassroots Giving, Leeds Print Workshop would be able to buy six large screens to be used for paper printing, and six large screens to print on fabric. This group of screens could be reused by countless people, members and beginners alike, to make prints of a variety of sizes on a variety of surfaces.
Once an investment is made in a stock of screens, that’s it – aside from the occasional repair, these dozen screens would last forever. They would help our diverse community to make art now and into the future.
"“Fantastic facilities and well-priced workshops have given me access to printing techniques I have never tried before. I’ve have attended some brilliant courses and am now a member and regular user of the workshop. I’m happy to have discovered the printmaking community here in Leeds” - Claire Swallow, Leeds Print Workshop Member."