Artist Spotlight: Lydia MaryPosted by: Claudia Downs
Lydia Mary is an illustrator and printmaker, who has lived in Sheffield for just over three years.
Based in a studio at Yorkshire Artspace, Lydia draws and makes prints alongside working full time as an Art Technician in a school.
“I’ve always drawn and made things from a young age,” says Lydia. “One of my most famous makes was a train made out of toothpaste boxes, when I was six! I studied Textile Design at Manchester Met and started specialising in screen printing and fabric design; the interest in illustration flowed from there.
"After graduating I started making my own products, mostly textile-based, and was accepted onto a Crafts Council programme for emerging makers, which helped me get my head around becoming self-employed. In recent years my focus has been mostly on 2D illustrative work for commission and freelance. It has taken a lot of practice and self-discipline, but I couldn’t see myself not doing something creative.”
Lydia’s bold and whimisical artwork utlises bright blocks of colour for simple but impactful imagery. “I mostly screen print my work," Lydia says. "This involves printing separate layers to build up an image. It can be done on fabric or paper and produces a flat, even colour that tends to be more vivid than other processes. It connects you to the product more as you have to build up the layers by hand, and every print is slightly different. More recently, I have tried other printmaking techniques like Risographs, and am increasingly enjoying working digitally."
"My heart will always lie with screen printing - it can be infuriating, but also totally amazing when you get it right.”
Lydia is not a Sheffield native, but like many of us, has found a home in the city nonetheless. “Sheffield is a great city for creatives to live in,” says Lydia, “purely because there are so many people freelancing or making their own businesses here. I’ve lived in other cities where people thought I was a bit odd, having part-time jobs and faffing about in a studio seemingly not doing much! But Sheffield gets it. There are loads of studios and lots of free events and exhibitions."
"Most importantly, the people in Sheffield are friendly, willing to share advice and help you along the way. It’s not very ‘dog eat dog’ like some places can be.”
So what advice does Lydia have for aspiring artists? “Just keep experimenting. Don’t make all of your work with the intention to sell it or share it on social media. It puts too much pressure on how you feel it should look, and you may lose enjoyment in it.”