Interview with Chloe (NotNow Studio)

As part of our continuing series profiling the brilliant people to make The Island tick, we sat down with Chloe from NotNow Studios for a (virtual) chat. Here’s what we found out…

Tell us about your work?

My studio is called Not Now Studio. I am a hand pulled screen printer. I share the space with a few other screen printers and the printing that we do is all manual. My main focus is trying to help the small DIY arts that we’ve got here in Bristol grow, and build a community. 

I had a lot of friends that worked in illustration and comic art. They couldn’t afford to get their stuff printed, to get their foot in the door. So when I learnt how to print, that was something I really wanted to focus on. I collaborate with illustrators from around the world, who I admire personally. We make prints together. I do the printing, they do the designing, and then we sell it. Some of the money that we raise goes to charity. I do that collab service, and if there’s an artist that wants to have their work printed that they can sell, I do that as well. 

I started printing about five years ago now. The process in itself is quite wasteful. You end up with a lot of paper waste, because there’s so many things that can go wrong. A big part of what I do is trying to recycle as much of that as possible. So things like misprints – if I do a run of collab prints, and there’s loads of misprints, I sell those misprints and the majority of the money goes to SARSAS. I’m always trying to find ways to make this process as sustainable as possible. 

Who are your influences?

I personally get a lot of inspiration from the people that I collaborate with. There are a lot of people doing tactile printing, keeping those traditions alive. 

It’s important to recognise the history of the process and where it all started. The ancient Chinese art of silkscreen printing – way back in about 900AD – is fascinating and a real inspiration for me to see how the process changed as it spread throughout the rest of Asian and later to Europe. It’s super amazing to see how the process has modernised to what it is today while still retaining that handmade, tactile nature that people associate with screen printing.

What’s your favourite part of your work?

I’m someone that really likes to work with my hands. Having this creative outlet is very good for my mental health. I originally went to uni to do graphic design, and I was an illustrator myself, and I just didn’t get anything out of it. I felt like I was doing something that I had to do because I was good at it. But I didn’t get any enjoyment out of it, just stress. But then I found I could be a part of that process, and I didn’t necessarily have to be the one making that artwork. 

It’s also just really nice making a piece of artwork for someone, and then they get home, and they’re really stoked on it. They get it, and they’re like ‘yes! This is perfect!’ That’s really nice. And just being in a community of people who are all really good at propping each other up. The art community is great. The art community will always help you out, and have your back. 

What advice would you have for someone starting out?

 I think the main bit of advice I would have, especially for other people in the creative industries, is not to feel like you have to follow traditional educational methods (like university) if you don’t feel that’s the correct path for you. As the years go by, I notice the UK becoming super over saturated with people with creative degrees and I don’t feel that it’s necessary to have them anymore. Formal education isn’t for everyone and that’s okay – I have learnt WAY more valuable skills by myself that I ever did while doing a university course and I truly believe quitting university when I did was the best choice. There are a million other ways you can get into creative industries and I know may people who have super successful careers without any formal education as they didn’t feel university was an accessible route for them. It’s a slow process but more opportunities are opening up for people who didn’t take the ‘normal’ route and that’s ace to see!

My first bit of advice, if someone came up to me, would be to find a way to do it in your own space, as cheaply as you possibly can. Until you start to do a process like this, you don’t really know whether you like it or not. There are lots of parts of this process that are incredibly frustrating! So many things can go wrong. I would tell people to research how to do it super-DIY in their own home. Which you can do. Just get a feel for the process. 

What’s next?

We’re hoping we can start workshops again! We have always done monthly workshops where we teach people how to print. Obviously, for the last year, we’ve not been able to do it. So we really want to get that going again! And just doing art shows again, and fairs. There’s a lot of people in the art world who find screen printing really intimidating. It’s only when they do it that they realise actually, this is something that is a lot more attainable than they thought. 

Thank you so much to Chloe for taking the time out of her day to talk to us. You can find out more about NotNow’s work here.