When traveling, I tend to notice how many arrows there are, whether that be on the roads, street signs or platforms. These arrows tend to make me thing about directions and how we are directed from place to another, finally meeting our destination.
After viewing Alan Kitchings: Life in a Letterpress and seeing his prints that he did naming destinations in London, this got me thinking about how many places I visit on a weekly basis. As a Londoner, travel is my life. Like many Londoners I both enjoy and despise the content hassle and bussel of London’s transport. Hopping from one train to another, maybe catching a bus in between. This inspired me to think of a way to express these journeys.
I thought the best way of expressing this was through both photography, as well as including the allows that direct me to the places I need to be. Arrows to me symbolism so much more than just a sign telling me were to go or were something is. It symbolises the pathways we choose and the decisions we make in life.
Traditional Stencil Screen Printing
These prints were achieved quite easily by using a simple stencil of an arrow. I chose to follow in Alan Kitchens footsteps, and use a very traditional printing method in the form of stencil screen printing. At first I was very precise with trying to make the perfect arrow silhouette, but I quickly bored of this and became quite expressive in my mark making, not thinking about where I would place my arrows. I attempted to make quite expressive prints, by not re inking the screen and just letting the ink run its course. This created beautiful patterns in the arrows, some almost resembling the foot prints of a shoe. Making the arrows have a second meaning. This being how many people walk the streets and over time how many people make the own journeys to the own destinations.
I found this technique really enjoyable and a because of this created a lot of prints varying in tone and patterns in a very short amount of time. I chose to use only black ink as I really like the impact it makes on the clean white paper.
After creating my prints, I decided to mix the traditional stencil screen prints with the digital, by using Photoshop. By doing this I could layer multiple prints, changing the opacity and contrast to my liking. I chose to add yellow as I not only does the bright yellow stand out from the bold black ink, but it also resembles the yellow arrows we often see on the station platforms.
Because I liked how my first Photoshop edits turned out, I decided to add a photograph of the Charing Cross underground symbol. I chose to use Charing Cross for two reasons. The first being that this is the station that I often use as a connection to central London, mainly because it is the easiest to get through with a baby and a buggy. The second is because it has my ‘nickname’ in it. This being ‘char’, which is personal to me. Cross also bring to mind how we cross channels and crossing over each other’s individual pathways whilst making our own journeys.
I layered the image behind the edited arrows and changed the contrast and opacity. I have created both a colour and black and white version of this. Both I feel are quite interesting and both have a gritty, grungy feel to them.