Women in Print

  • Ellen, Ksenjia and Lara
  • 8th March 2020

Women are the minority of the manufacturing workforce in the UK making up only 25% of all manufacturing employees. At BIDBI we love our creative, hardworking ladies and we thought we’d take a second to appreciate the women who work in our factory, so we asked Ellen, Ksenjia and Lauren about how they got into printing and what it’s like to be a woman in print.

How did you get into print?

Ellen- I studied Fine Art and Graphic Design at University and I really enjoyed it, I worked in large format printing; working of signage, books and framing. Then I saw the job at BIDBI and here I am.

Ksenjia- At college I studied Graphic Communications and then I went on to study Illustration at Uni, I really wanted to go into it for my work, so I joined BIDBI.

Lauren- My background is in illustration. In my foundation year at university we studied all types of printing, but in my degree, I focussed on screenprint so moving to BIDBI to screenprint seemed like the right natural progression.

What’s your favourite type of print?

E- My favourite type of printing is screen print. Especially Japanese screen prints. They’re so cool.

K- I’d have to say screen printing, because it has such a good finish. But I also love mono printing, it gives you such a cool textured finish.

L- I love lino printing because it’s so satisfying carving the blocks (even if you do end up injuring yourself). And also, screenprint is such a lovely type of print.

Do you have a favourite artist or illustrator?

E- My favourite artists have to be Mel Kadel and Travis Millard who are illustrators and just have an amazing style that I love. Also, there’s a business called Tugboat Printshop who make really cool print blocks that are gorgeous.

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K- I really like Marina Abramović she’s a performance artist who focusses on feminism, endurance and limits of the body, she’s quite graphic but it’s so clever how she works. And I also love Wassily Kandinsky who is a Russian abstract artist.

L- Teagan White (@teaganwh) is an amazing painter, her work is just so beautiful. She’s had lots of her designs screen and digitally printed, and they look gorgeous.

What is it like being a print operative at BIDBI?

E- It’s so fun, I love being in charge of my own machine. I’ve been here for a while now but I’m still learning every day because every job and type of print is so different. It’s never boring working at BIDBI.

K- It’s good, I love that it’s really hands on, in that we’re on our feet really getting stuck in. I work in creating the screens to be used for screen printing, and it’s great being to make my own schedule to organise making the screens. And I love how much I’ve learnt, it’s nice being able to explain what I do to new starters and colleagues in different departments.

L- I love it, it’s a really relaxed environment because everyone is so chilled out, but when it does get busy everyone works really well at picking up the speed. Everyone is so supportive, as a new starter it’s great that everyone is so willing to help if I’m struggling with a task, and they will work with you to help you develop.

What’s the most exciting thing about printing?

E - There’s something different to do every day, every job is different and comes with its own challenges and problems to overcome. I’m learning something new everyday and that keeps it exciting.

K – I just like getting all messy, covered in ink and grafting over an order and seeing a perfect, pristine bag at the end, it’s just a really satisfying feeling.

L- Definitely seeing the final print. When you’re screenprinting multiple colours or layers watching them, all be added is so cool, it’s really exciting to see the final product come together.

Why do you think there is such an imbalance in the print industry (women currently make up 31% of the sector)?

E – I think it stems from there already being a lot of men in the industry. It’s seen as being industrial and stigmatised as a “male” job. But I do think it’s changing the field of art/illustration is definitely becoming more female and with that print is becoming a more female industry.

K – Because it is such a male dominated industry it is intimidating as a woman to try and place yourself there. Women are less inclined to just go for it because of this stigmatism. It’s a big deal if you’re not confident in yourself.

L- I think from the outside it’s seen as being industrial and historically women wouldn’t be working with heavy machinery.

How do you feel about being a woman in print?

E- To be honest I don’t feel any different to if I were a man in print. We’re just one big team, and we all respect each other. I’m not treated any different because I’m a woman.

K- Well, we’re not different to the boys at work. We just do our job the same as everyone else, we’re all equal.

L- I didn’t realise there was such an imbalance, when I was at uni my course was 70:30 women. I think Men have a bigger voice in the industry. But I am glad to be a woman in print representing the ladies, and I think there is a shift where more women are seeing it as an avenue.