Meet the Lino Printmaker Inspired by the North East Coast
Heather Moore left her steady job in teaching to follow her dream of being an artist
Tell us what you do.
I am a Lino printmaker, which means that I carve designs into Lino blocks, ink them up and print them onto paper. My main inspiration is the coast – we’re truly spoiled for beautiful coastline in the North East (my favourites being Tynemouth Longsands and Whitley Bay) so I have plenty to start from. I combine this inspiration with bold, mood-enhancing colours as I’m a great believer that the colours you wear and paint on your walls have a huge impact on how you feel. I have gravitated towards working on a bigger scale in recent months but, regardless of scale, I like to keep my print editions to a limit of 20 or fewer – it makes them extra special.
What’s your background?
I was born in Warrington, Cheshire. I realised when I was in high school that my Gramps was a Geordie, born and bred in Whitley Bay, but I had never been to the North East before. I didn’t visit Newcastle until I was 19 but immediately felt a connection – a sort of genetic link I guess. My dad trained as an engineer in Shields but hadn’t been back until I moved here with my Geordie husband.
For 17 years of my life I was a primary teacher. I adored working with children and watching them grow and develop. It’s amazing how much they change over a year. When I trained as a teacher, I specialised in Art and Design. I went on to do an MA in Art and Design Teaching and Leadership. That study gave me a real opportunity to go deeper into my own art practise and find out what lit me up. Part way through this qualification, I moved down South for work so I had to complete it as distanced learning. It wasn’t nearly as fun and I really missed the creativity.
How did you get into Lino printing?
In 2017, I heard about the winter Ouseburn Open Studios and was really intrigued. By this point, I hadn’t created any art since my masters as I’d been too tired from my job and didn’t have any space where we lived in our small flat down South. Walking around the studios was incredible. The sights and smells reminded me of my high school art room and brought back so many amazing memories. My favourite place was Northern Print (where I am now a member). I stayed there for a very long time and it inspired me to start creating artwork again. I order my Lino print kit pretty soon after and six years on, I now have my own studio in B Box Studios in Shieldfield and have just done my first Ouseburn Open Studios event. It feels like I have come full circle.
When did you set up The Peacock & The Printmaker?
I set up my business in April 2018 – back then it was Heather Does Prints. I had an Instagram account, an Etsy shop and absolutely no clue what running an art business entailed. At the time I was really struggling with my mental health. Being new to motherhood was hard and I felt very lonely. Creating the artwork gave me a sense of who I was again – it was something for Heather that didn’t fall under the heading of Mum. Friends and family started asking to buy my work and I was more than happy for them to do so. After a while, they even started commissioning me to create bespoke prints for them. I charged very little but absolutely loved doing it.
Being an artist was a dream I had when I was younger but all the artists we learned about in school were dead white men. It didn’t seem a tangible career choice. Still, when maternity leave was over, I decided to go back part time and develop the art business on the side. Eventually I rebranded as The Peacock & The Printmaker. Peacocks were the first things that I printed and bring back happy memories of visiting Walton Gardens in Warrington where they have an animal sanctuary. I’d watch the peacocks for hours.
Where do you source your materials?
I like to shop with independent businesses where I can. My favourites are handprinted.co.uk and jacksonsart.com. Both of these shops stock my favourite inks – Cranfield Colours Relief inks – and the battleship grey, hessian-backed Lino that I love. I also bought my favourite Pfeil gouges from Handprinted. They have gorgeous wooden handles and the detail I can carve with them in stunning. When I’m in Morpeth, I love to shop in Lateral Art. Their selection of sketchbooks is tough to resist.
What’s your typical day?
Priority one is the school run. Once I get back from that it’s time for some mindset work. This often includes some meditation and journaling. It helps me get my head into the right zone to do my best work. After that I get the admin done. This could be adding new prints to my website, writing blogs or working on my marketing. All three of these are skills that I have had to develop to run the business.
After lunch (I always take an hour because I’ve had a tendency to overdo things and burn out in the past), I get creative. This could mean going to the beach to sketch, playing around with watercolours to develop compositions, carving, printing or even collaging with misprints and handprinted papers. As often as I can, I put the routine to one side and take inspiration days where I walk along Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Longsands or Cullercoats, plodge in the sea (any time of year), collect interesting pebbles and shells and make sketches to take back to the studio.
What’s the hardest part of what you do?
The hardest part of doing what I do is keeping the imposter syndrome at bay, and it’s the same for most of the small business owners I know. There are days when I wonder why I quit a well paid, steady job to run a business that has totally taken over my life. Sometimes I second guess myself but that’s when I need to double down on the mindset work and reach out to my network. Being part of the Natwest Business Accelerator has really helped in this department.
What’s the best part? Can you tell us about a favourite recent project or piece?
The best part is creating the artwork. I love working with vivid colours and celebrating the coast through what I do and it’s always exciting when a client sends me a photograph of it hung on their wall. Art gives people so much joy – making and looking at it. It turns a house into a home, brings nostalgia and encourages dreaming.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a series of tidal wave prints inspired by various areas along the North East coast. The prints will have my signature vivid colour style and be square. I want to really zoom in on the waves as they rise up. It blows my mind watching them emerge and I want to capture that. One of my inspiration walks was along Beadnell Links as storm Babet was starting to churn up the waters. I love watching the sea in any weather. It’s a great way to put life in perspective and makes me realise that I’m witnessing something wonderful and truly powerful.
Best place to eat locally?
My favourite café is Cake Stories in Jesmond (my favourite is their apple and cinnamon cake).
A TV show you recommend?
I really love Designing the Hebrides with Banjo Beale. It seems like total chaos then this amazing interior emerges.
An item you couldn’t live without?
Best snack for a long journey?
I’d love to say something healthy, but it has to be dark chocolate.