In the Studio with Richard Marsden

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Glasgow based printmaker Richard Marsden’s work is distinct – bold colours, sharp lines and precise compositions. Clean and effortless. Originally from Leeds, Richard moved to the city to complete his MLitt in Fine Art Practice at GSA in 2018 and has since remained, juggling a full-time job alongside his art. We had the pleasure of catching up with Richard to chat about his practice, his inspirations, and of course, how Covid-19 has impacted his work. 

In the Studio with Richard Marsden
Overlap | 7-layer Screen Print

Speaking (via Zoom) from his sunny flat / temporary lockdown studio, Richard is clearly happy to share all about his relationship with printmaking. His infectious enthusiasm for art is evident – he’s been creative since childhood. He attended Leeds School of Art (Leeds Beckett University) and completed his degree in Graphic Arts & Design. It was during this time he discovered abstract printmaking. In his final year, which focused students to think about ‘who you are creating for’ and ‘what you are communicating’, Richard realised printmaking was the direction he wanted to take his art and, most importantly, that he wanted to create for himself.    

“I realised that I didn’t really want to be a Graphic Designer. I wanted to be more selfish, I just wanted to make the work I wanted to make.”

So how does he do it? Richard’s formalistic approach begins with sketches of various geometric arrangements. He adds and takes elements away until the composition feels balanced. Once this is achieved, he starts to consider colours. Taking the initial sketches, Richard digitally plays with colour combinations in Adobe Illustrator.

In the Studio with Richard Marsden
Richard’s initial concept sketches

Richard tends to look at other artistic influences to gain inspiration about colour. He will regularly reference colour pairings and contrasts from his previous works, as well as those of other abstract and representational artists, such as Edward Hopper and Salvador Dali.

“Edward Hopper I love, just his use of light and… the colour in his work. Sometimes I’ll just pick out little colour combinations.”

In the Studio with Richard Marsden
A colour study from ‘Nostalgia of the Cannibal’ by Salvador Dali

But it’s not just other artists that influence and help guide Richard. He has a huge interest in architecture, and over the past couple of years it is the construction side of this industry that has played a major role in his work.

It all sort of started from an interest in architecture and sort of abstracting images of brutalist architecture. Over the last two years I’ve been looking at construction and the functional elements of architecture, the things we can’t see. I love to watch a building over the months be constructed and just see how it’s made and where they put the framework. Just watching all that: very functional parts that are then covered up. So that’s where the first ideas and forms come from and then I start with the whole playing about and mixing them up.”

In the Studio with Richard Marsden
Primary Landscape | 5-layer Screen Print
In the Studio with Richard Marsden
Double | 3-layer Screen Print

Lockdown temporarily stopped Richard from physically making his screen prints while his studio had to close. But it didn’t pause his creativity, and he has filled many sketchbooks with plans and ideas for future prints. And he has even found adapting and working at a slower pace beneficial to his overall approach.

“It’s helped me to slow down. Before I’d book in to my studio and feel like I need to get loads done. But now I’ve not made a new print in 6 months so I was like what’s another couple weeks? So I just take it a bit slower and I think that’s probably helping the work and it’s making it more enjoyable. I’ve just completed a series of one-off commissioned screen prints for someone and the slower pace has definitely been beneficial to the quality of their outcome”

In the Studio with Richard Marsden
Two Greys | Screen Print

A big thank you to Richard for taking the time to talk to us and explain all about his practice. You can check out his full collection of work here. And make sure to keep an eye out for new releases coming in 2021.

As always, thank you for reading.

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