Lottie May

Lottie May

Lottie May

This week I had a catch up with the first artist to be apart of our local artists section at the BHP Collectibles art gallery, Lottie May - coined cool pink hair girl by some of the staff at the gallery.

Lottie has got multiple different Lino prints in the gallery and more being uploaded to the website daily! My personal favourites are the Sunshine Palm and the Sunset House collection, they were the first pieces I saw that made me think we needed to collaborate with this artist and get the local artists section up and running!

I was curious as to why she gravitated towards working with Lino, during our chat she had mentioned she has previously worked with other mediums but has always come back to Lino printing. When I asked why she gravitated towards it she had this to say:

"The first time I did Lino was because my mum was doing it, she did a course in Bristol at The Folk House. She encouraged me to give it a try.

The first Lino cut I did was the Roaring bear. That was the first one I ever did, the first time I ever put tool to Lino. I just really took to it after I did that. It's still a successful piece years later.

"I like Lino also because you don't have to be drawing like Da Vinci to get a good image out of it. You just draw the rough shape and then image becomes designed as you carve it. The carving is a part of the drawing process. As your carving it and you define the lines, it becomes a different image to the sketch that you start with. "

When I asked Lottie to tell me more about her Limited-Edition Sunshine Palm prints, this is what she had to say:

"'Sunshine Palm' was produced the print collective I'm apart of 'Hand Sprained Press' (@handsprainedpress on Instagram) - as in pulling the press. It's all hand made as well in reference to that.

The 5 of us decided to make a logo for it, so we all produced a hand illustration in some way. I went over SO many ideas before I made the final piece. I was like "I've got to draw a hand, it's got to be realistic, it's got to be holding something, it's got to be an interesting composition, it should have colour, etc. I got so overwhelmed with it, so I just slapped my own hand on a bit of Lino, drew around it and went "Thank god I don't have to draw a hand". So, it's actually the shape of my hand which brings a personal element into it as well. The sun in the centre of it also has a nice symmetry, bringing in yellow and light."

Yellow is something that is really important in this artist's work, it is part of her brand. When I asked why it's so prominent in her work and why she tends to gravitate towards it opened up about just how personal it is.

"Yellow means a lot to me. It's related to my seasonal depression, the sun is so important to me and really dictates my mood. Yellow represents sunshine and happiness. I just like to be surrounded by it. It brings me joy.

It also goes with so many things, my primary colour pallet is yellow and pink, and then blue and green are the secondary. I like how bright they are and how much they complement each other.

All my outfits are yellow as well! It makes me feel better wearing a happy colour!"

The Sunset house is a reduction print, which means that once they're gone... They're gone, "came from taking a photo in the centre of Birmingham. It's a little piece of Birmingham in my work. It's where I'm living and it's got nice colours in it."

I always like to know where artists have come from. Is it something they've always done or is it something they were drawn to in later years? For me knowing more about why an artist is an artist really creates an image of why they make their work. When I asked May about how she became an artist, she mentioned:

"When we were kids, it was always collage, painting, or clay. We did loads of stuff as kids and was the precursor to everything. When I was younger, I did a lot of painting, acrylics mainly, just on anything. I drew on some of the furniture when I was younger which made my mum so mad. "
People always asked me as a kid "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and my answer was always "An artist."

It can be tough to find inspiration as an artist so finding out about who people are inspired by and why can be such an amazing way to share new and fun ways to get inspired! When I asked May about who she was inspired by she had a whole team of people who she gets inspiration from.

"Inspiration can come from taking photos when I'm out. The house print I made was inspired by a photo I took in the centre of town, and I was like "That's a Lino cut right there." I have dozens of photos on my phone, some of them will never go anywhere and sometimes I see them and I have to make it.

It sounds stereotypical, but I also get a lot of inspiration from the artists I follow on Instagram. I have borrowed a lot from other print-making artists."

She gave me a list of the artists she often takes influence from when looking on Instagram:
@jacquelinecolley - "Jaqueline is probably one of my biggest inspirations, in terms of I wish my work looked like this!!"

@morgangrice97 - "Morgan Grice is responsible for a lot of my colour choices! She also went to BCU, and was the year above me in illustration."

@ktj.illustration - "Katie's work is incredible too, she's the year below me but her stuff is so inspiring!"

@septemberwildflowers - "Ruth Speer is a massive inspiration for how I use the imagery in my work"

@Meg_t_justice_art - "Meg Justice has amazing Linos, they're incredible."

"I do have to cite my mum as a big inspiration too, as her Lino cuts are incredible, she's always been super creative, and she went to a lot of art courses while she was pregnant with us."

Lottie has also taken inspiration from literature! Her love for Greek Mythology started when she was younger with the Percy Jackson series and to this day is present in her work. One of her pieces 'The Sun and the Moon' is filled with symbolism from Greek Mythology and is a piece that can be analysed in depth.

"'The Sun and The Moon' was made in response to the 50th anniversary fo the Apollo 11 mission at the midland's art centre (Click here to see our Apollo 11 Astronaut signed photos signatures and arm patches). They asked my course to produce a project in response to that. Since Apollo is also a Greek God, so I used a lot of imagery from Greek Mythology.

I have an embarrassing amount of knowledge about Greek and Roman Mythology. It's always been something I've been interested in. I've done a fair bit of reading on Ancient Greek stuff in general so those pieces are kind of based on tarot cards for composition.

The bird in the piece is a Raven, which I believe is one of Apollo's sacred animals. He's holding a loreal branch in his beak because it was customary for Apollo to give out laurel branches to the winners of the Olympic games.

Apollo was also the god of music and played the lute. It looks like a vague shape around it but if you look closer it is a musical instrument. But everything in there is tied to Apollo mythology in some way.

The numbers in the corners are Roman numerals for the tarot card numbers for the sun and the moon, respectively. So, I think it says XII - eleven - because the sun is the 11th tarot card (don't quote me on that, it could be wrong). And the same with the moon. That one is based around Artemis and all her sacred things."

Lottie has been really branching out in her art career lately! Making connections with galleries and artists alike and making the city know more about her work! Recently she has been a part of an exhibition at 'The Framers' in Digbeth and told me all about it!

"So that was part of the collective at BCU, our printmakers collective, hand sprained press decided to put on a show to celebrate the work we made this year during our residency at BCU and a chance to show it off and feel proud of it.

It was the first time I'd had my work in a gallery showing and it felt so good! Everyone after university expects when they leave something to come their way. When it doesn't it makes you realise "oh hang on, I need to go out and look for this." Then so many people showed up and it was such a good atmosphere. So many people all over the place told me they loved my work."

As usual, I asked about Lottie's current projects and what she's got going on at the moment and how she promotes her work in the art world. I found out about all her upcoming plans! "So currently, my main platform is Instagram. I'm currently putting together a workshop on colour and shape for Warwick art centre in collaboration with BCU. It's quite a lot of work, but it's a good opportunity.

I think in-person would be a lot easier, this one going to be an online workshop, for members of the public. But being in a room with people and helping them to create, is something I would be up for! There's a lot of stuff where I realise, I have specialist knowledge. When I sit down and do art, as I do sometimes with friends who aren't artists, and just do it for fun. I realise that I automatically hold the pencil in a certain way now because I've been doing it since I was 6 years old, and what to do with a brush when you've washed it, and all these little specific things you just learn through muscle memory. I would like to put that into a format where other people can learn it and benefit from that knowledge."