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Meet the Maker: Basil and Ford

Thursday, September 20, 2018

We are a husband and wife screen printing duo. We met at university where we were both studying Art & Design. In 2011 we got engaged and started the hunt for wedding stationery. We couldn't find what we wanted without a huge price tag so we ended up hand screen printing them ourselves and we caught the bug. Fast forward a couple of years and we were married and still working in London, both in design/ad agencies and then found out we were expecting our first little one. We assessed all our options and decided we wanted to head out of the big smoke before the baby arrived and thought we would go all in and set up Basil & Ford back in Stamford all before Matilda turned up in September 2013. And the rest, as they say is history.


Describe your printmaking process.

We have several arms to the business. We design and screen print graphic art prints, we create typographic designs that we print over original book plates and we design our stationery ranges that we outsource. The screen printing process in short goes like this:

DESIGN - PRINT POSITIVE FILM - COAT SCREEN WITH LIGHT SENSITIVE EMULSION - EXPOSE DESIGN ONTO SCREEN - WASH - DRY - PRINT. We have a little diagram that you can see on our website: http://www.basilandford.com/what-is-screenprinting/

How and where did you learn to print?

I (Lucy) went to Leeds Metropolitan University and studied art and design and was lucky enough to learn the ropes in their wonderful studio. Matt hadn't done it before so he learnt whilst we printed our wedding invitations. Then years later when we decided to set up our own studio we had to refresh the knowledge again and there was A LOT of errors and learning on the job. Our skills now are so much further on that they were 5 years ago!


Why printmaking?

There is something so wonderful about creating something from scratch and using original processes to do so. Printing a design out on a digital printer just doesn't do it for us and we would find it very uninspiring and rather mundane doing that day in day out. We love being able to print on different substrates and we especially love being able to print on extra thick card and wood.


Where do you work?

When we started we set up our studio in an old garage that wasn't entirely water tight and was freezing in the winter and very warm in the summer. It wasn't ideal but it got us off the ground and we will always look back at those first years with fond memories. We now have an all singing, all dancing studio that we love.


This is what the studio looked like before we took it over!


Describe a typical day in your studio.

We have two young children and it is only the 2 of us that run Basil & Ford. Our little boy has just turned one so Matt has been manning the studio single handed for most of the last 12 months. One of our bread and butter products is our 3 Map Wedding Print which are made to order so they take up a lot of his studio time as each one is laid out, hand printed and finished with original maps which have to be sourced from our vast collection, cut, mounted and then everything is framed up.


When he isn't doing that he will be creating new lucky dip prints on vintage book plates (which we also have a vast collection of!) or creating bespoke wedding stationery for brides and grooms: https://www.instagram.com/mightyfineweddingsuk/


I look after all the finance, ordering, stocktake, wholesale, social media and all general admin from home, the studio or my parents house all with one or two children tugging at my dress and asking for snacks! :0) September sees our eldest heading off to school so next year we will both be in the studio together more which we really look forward to.

How long have you been printmaking?

We have been screenprinters since we opened up Basil & Ford in May 2013. We had a few days of it before this date so it was pretty bold to invest our savings and set up a studio with such little knowledge but sometimes you have to jump straight in at the deep end. Below is an image of us at London Print Studio back in 2011 and then in our old studio a couple of years ago.


What inspires you?

Everything around us really. Adverts, vintage typography, old books, graphic design, our friends.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

Matt loves creating our lucky dip prints as each one is unique and some of the book plates we are printing on date back to 1900 so the paper stocks are just incredible.

My favourite product is our wooden table plans that we create for weddings. I think this shows how the screen printing process is more versatile than digital printing and we also supply these plans with stickers so the table plan doesn't have to be finalised up until the last minute which gives great flexibility.


We created a video that shows the process for printing our wooden table plans: https://vimeo.com/188961900

What have you made that you are most proud of?

We were very proud when we launched our first collaboration with the V&A for their Shipping Exhibition. Our prints were a sell out and we restocked every couple of weeks whilst the show was on. We have worked with them since on various bespoke prints for their shop and online shop.


Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

We have our own website and also sell on nothonthehightstreet and etsy. We travel the county showcasing our wares at the best craft markets and print fairs and people travel to see us as they want to rifle through all the lucky dips to pick up some mighty fine art prints. We promote all our new prints on Instagram and confirm markets on there so give us a follow @basilandford


What will we be seeing from you next?

We are in the process of creating reversed printed mirrors but there are various processes that we are trying to perfect to ensure the product is perfect. We are also going to launch a small collection of children T-shirts so watch this space.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Don't undersell yourself. When we started we did so much for no money and people seem to take advantage and see a design service as something that can be given away for free. Your time is your cost so ensure you get paid for your hard work. Also stick to your guns and create items that you love so you remain passionate about what you do.

 

See more from Basil and Ford:

Website

Instagram

Not On The Highstreet

Etsy