I’m an incredibly plugged in person. From the moment my alarm goes off at 7am right up until I turn the lights out at 1am, after another inevitably late night, I am never without some kind of electronic device. I use my phone to communicate, my kindle to read, my Mac to work and the internet to look at videos of Raccoons doing cute things on all of these devices. It’s gotten so bad that when I recently went on holiday to Scotland a “no connected devices” rule was put into place. I still used my phone to take photographs of all that highland scenery – directly uploaded to Instagram when I got back of course.
Being so digital can make your brain demand a certain level of high definition. I’m never happy unless work is pixel perfect, everything needs to be crisp and clean or it ends up in the bin. It’s exhausting.
So I figured I needed a hobby that took me away from any kind of tech. I love to draw in my spare time but even then I’ll create roughs on my Mac before my pencil goes anywhere near the paper. I wanted something truly analogue, something real and imperfect. I needed old school, so I turned to lino printing.
If you’ve never tried it, this involves using very sharp tools to cut into blocks of soft plastic and create stamp-like templates to print ink onto paper. It is time consuming, messy and completely impossible to do with any of the accuracy and finesse that I can get out of Adobe Illustrator. In short, it’s exactly what I needed. So I read a Wikihow, invested in some tools and turned my router off for an entire Saturday.
I cut my hands a good four times before I worked out how to use the tools properly, and my lounge ended up buried under a flurry of plastic flakes and plaster packs. It’s not a hobby for the impatient or clumsy but by the time 6pm rolled around I’d not even realised I hadn’t seen a Raccoon doing anything hilarious all day.
In the end I managed one, tiny print that I was happy with, out of a pile of ruined sheets of lino. I’m still trying though and it feels really good to make something with my hands. Having said that, and because old habits die hard, you can still follow my progress on Instagram.