Printmaker Simone Hale

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Printmaking is the art of making pictures or designs by printing them from specially prepared plates or blocks. Local New England resident Simone Hale has taken her love for printmaking and children to create fine art prints for the home, specifically children’s bedrooms. FOCUS cuts the lino with Simone …

Tell us about yourself, Simone …

My husband, Rob, and I moved to Armidale 14 years ago, when I was pregnant with the first of our three children. Before we had kids, I was a graphic designer, working as a magazine design and layout artist. We came here so we could have a lifestyle where I could stay at home with our kids and eventually freelance from home, so we could always be available for our children.

Working from home with the kids underfoot sounds tricky. How do you manage your work/life balance?

Like most parents with three school age children, I don’t really stop much. I try very hard to work only during school hours, but my time working can be very stop/start, and I can end up in my studio late at night just to get a good run at something. I’m pretty organised though, and I’m actually someone who thrives on routine, structure and deadlines, so it suits me to be a parent freelancer!

Tell us about your art in all its forms.

The main art forms I’m interested in at the moment are illustrating for the picture book format and fine art prints for the home. While the kids were little, I created copious amounts of craft with them, went crazy on their birthday invitations and decorations and made lots of things for kids to buy at their school fetes. I started to really love making and designing things specifically for children. When my youngest son was four, I was reading him a picture book and had the crazy idea that the picture book format could be a really great way to use all my skills.

What mediums do you use?

I use a few different mediums – printmaking, pencil, ink and coloured pencil. I also use Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

How long have you been doing lino prints, and how have you seen your work change over time?

About two and half years ago, I started taking printmaking classes at NERAM to learn how to lino cut. I’d always loved letterpress printing when I was doing graphic design, and printmaking was something I’d wanted to get into. There’s so much to learn, and I just want to keep building on what I’ve done so far and strengthen my ability to illustrate narrative.

When I started, I couldn’t even draw people and used to wonder what on Earth made me think I could be an illustrator. But through perseverance and because of a very supportive husband, I have begun to get more confident. I can definitely see my own style emerging and when I look back over some of my earlier attempts, I can see a huge improvement. I trust my instincts more now and when I have an idea for a design, I just do it.

Where do you see your designs in the home?

My youngest son frames everything I create and puts them in his bedroom, and my daughter requests specific designs to frame for hers, so I’ve decided I’d like to design some prints for children’s bedrooms. There’s definitely potential for all my designs to be used as fine art prints around the home, and I’ve sold quite a few original prints now for that purpose.

What challenges have you had to overcome throughout the years?

The biggest challenge has been lack of confidence in myself and whether or not my art is good enough. Also, I’m not very comfortable with the self-promotion side of being an artist. Both are things a lot of artists struggle with as, really, we’re happiest alone in our studio.

I’ve always dreaded the idea of social media and this kind of interview, but after doing a workshop on social media for illustrators, I’ve now accepted its part of the job. The other challenge has been persevering when a creative life doesn’t reward you financially. You have to be willing to not make much of an income in order to become established.

What’s in the future for Simone Hale?

I’ve had interest from an agent and publishers in my own picture book story idea and recently attended a conference in Brisbane for aspiring author/illustrators, where the feedback was again really positive. So, hopefully something will come from that in the future. I have plans to approach magazines for editorial illustration work, and illustrating a range of designs for children’s homewares and clothing is definitely something I’d really love to do in the future.

Any final words?

Armidale has so many supportive environments for creative people. I would encourage anyone who has an idea or a dream to get out there and give it a go. The New England Writers Centre is such a great community group who are completely generous in helping those who are learning and aspiring. NERAM is so supportive of the local printmaking community, and the Black Gully Printmakers have been such a wonderful group of kind, generous people willing to share their experience. Also, I just want to thank my husband and three kids for their unwavering support and generosity.

Where can people find out more?

To see some more of Simone’s works, head to simonehale.com.au
For commissions contact Simone on simone@simonehale.com.au

Thanks Simone.

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