John Williams

Staff. Printmaking Technical Officer

John looks after the printmaking room and equipment at Cambridge School of Art, providing technical and practical support to students, staff, AA2A artists and other visiting artists.

What do you do at ARU?

As the Printmaking Technical Officer I look after the Printmaking resource, teach the processes the resource offers and provide 1-2-1 technical and practical support to students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as to staff, AA2A artists and other visiting artists.

During teaching time, I set the print rooms up ready for taught modules and open access, and run through the printmaking processes with different groups of students. I also run a programme of refresher sessions, open to the whole school.

Students will come down to the print room with ideas they want to realise through printmaking, and may need advice on a particular process – screen printing, off-set lithography or etching – and I'm there for technical and practical support. There might be process, mechanical, chemical, or exposure issues that I can resolve. I also suggest artists they can look at who are relevant to their work, and other resources including music, animations, exhibitions, or places to visit. I aim to support and enhance their journey and their work.

Black and white print of creepy forest

How did you first get into printmaking?

I’ve been knocking around in print rooms for 27 years now.  I first became interested in Printmaking while at Suffolk College, studying for a BTech National Diploma in General Art and Design, and spent the second year dividing my time between the printmaking and ceramics workshops.  Dale Devereux Barker would give me some off his off-cuts of specialist printmaking papers to try, and Pris Forrest would allow me to work in the print workshops during the evening while she worked on her prints. I completed my degree here in BA Graphic Arts, specialising in printmaking, before gaining an MA in Printmaking from Camberwell College of Arts.

What is the highlight of your career so far?

I recently had a solo exhibition at Ruskin Gallery called On Finding Silence. To be standing alone in the Ruskin Gallery with this series of drawings around me was a career highlight - and a stern reminder that I need to get cracking with part 2!

Black and white print of tree-like forms

How does your own work as a printmaker feed into your work at ARU?

My awareness of printmaking on a national and international level, and the fact that I am a practitioner myself, is something that students can really draw on. I understand the need to be patient and that people learn differently, that levels of self-confidence and sensitivity vary. The print room is a communal working area. Students learn to support each other too - it’s a mixing pot of creative energy.

Do you have any advice for new students?

My advice to new students would be to really see their time at Cambridge School of Art as an opportunity: take it by the scruff of the neck and go for it big time, use the resources. They might never be available to you again.

Play, make mistakes, make more mistakes, work incredibly hard (do not forget to play), do not give up, keep going, believe in yourself (you are the only one who can do what you do) and ask lots of questions.

Where now