by Our guest
My name is Aidan Saunders and since April 2014 I have toured the UK in a hand-painted VW caddy, dubbed the ‘Print Wagon’.
I freshly press linocuts and exhibit a wide range of printed ephemera. Dubbed the ‘Del-Boy’ of print by Design week, I provide a unique interactive print experience which aims to educate, inform and inspire audiences, involving participants into the magic that is print… all while dressed in a swanky jacket and bow-tie! I started the Print Wagon when I was in my 3rd year at uni. It was born from being completely petrified that after university finished I would stop making artwork and never become a professional creative. I always felt nice and cosy in the creative bubble that existed in my uni but by the 3rd year I was all too aware that it would soon burst. I was desperate to become an artist; I wanted to walk straight into a professional illustrator career after I left university and the only way I could think to achieve this was to hand-paint a van in baroque inspired motifs and travel to galleries up and down the country dressed in a boating jacket.
I wouldn’t call myself a professional illustrator at the moment, I rarely get commercial commissions. However, through ‘Print Wagon-ing’ I became something else. The Print Wagon became it’s own entity, like a Frankenstein’s monster it had a life of it’s own. I created the Wagon to promote Aidan Saunders illustration but all I did was promote the Print Wagon. I bet you’re all thinking ‘Well DUH!’, but my project was little more than a gimmick in my eyes. I never would have thought that its popularity would take precedence and become more important than my own commercial work. It took 6 months for me to take the Print Wagon seriously. I think I fought taking it forward because I saw it as a compromise of my initial goal rather than being an improvement of it. I convinced myself that the only way you could call yourself a creative is if a magazine or newspaper dubs you it. It took time to shake off my own preconceptions of what it is to be a success. It was after this moment of zen-like clarity that I could truly appreciate it is what I do. Before I treated the wagon as a way to pepper the UK with my illustrations but the Print Wagon is as much about selling the process as much as it is about selling prints.
Although everyone sees me ink the lino and squash it against the blank paper there is always a ‘WOW!’ at the reveal.
I always find it remarkable how many people have never seen or attempted linocut. When I freshly press linocuts I create a personal print experience that I can only compare to a magic trick. I always love the awe struck faces of an audience who have just seen a print pressed. It is so strange because although everyone sees me ink the lino and squash it against the blank paper there is always a ‘WOW!’ at the reveal, it is very satisfying and honestly one of the biggest reasons I continue doing what I do. I love the idea that I have inspired someone, whether it is to start printmaking, drawing or even to just get out there and do what they want to do.
I have attempted to follow my own dreams the only way I know how and have tried to keep true to my own ambitions. Now 2 years after graduating this has been my best year ‘Print Wagoning’. I have exhibited and become friends with some of my favourite artists and illustrators. I was invited to press a giant lino with a steam roller by ‘Big Steam Print’, I continue to tour events around the UK and have even started to venture in to Europe. My initial goal of wanted to become an illustrator may not have been met in the obvious sense but I have managed to achieve something that I never would have realised if I didn’t at least follow my ambition. And besides, it’s still pretty early on in hopefully a long career.
I am currently planning a tour of Europe, an exhibition based on He-man, a book based on British and American folk songs and also an animation made with paper maquette’s.