— Interview Mark Wilkinson

To kick off the new year we head to Lincolnshire to talk to the printmaker Mark Wilkinson whose gothic woodcut fox is at the centre of Sekford’s visual identity. After a career in the RAF and a chance encounter with the work of English designer and artist Eric Gill, Wilkinson founded Inkshed Press. His timeless engravings, inspired by gothic revival and the Arts and Crafts movement, share Sekford’s values of craftsmanship and British design. Here we discuss the enduring appeal of printmaking, the challenges faced by working with Sekford and what 2016 holds for Inkshed Press.

Mark’s workspace and tools in his studio in Lincolnshire

What brought you to printmaking?
I was looking for a new direction in life having just left the Royal Air Force (and a thoughtful present for my wife’s birthday) and was on the verge of applying for a job collecting trolleys in a supermarket (and buying a bunch of petrol station flowers), when I rediscovered an old book I had of Eric Gill’s engravings. I went straight out and bought a woodblock, a cutting tool, an ink roller and a tube of ink.

The evolution of the Sekford fox: from an initial sketch Mark made the first woodcut which was then revised four times before arriving at the final version

What inspires your work?
The British and Irish wood engravers of the 1930s are at the core of everything that inspires me. Printmakers such as Eric Ravilious, Eric Gill and Edward Bawden are justifiably well known today, but others, such as Robert Gibbings, Leonard Beaumont, John Farleigh and Reynolds Stone, are, I think, deserving of much more recognition.

For the rest, my influences are eclectic and range from medieval woodcuts and 18th-century engravings to Japanese woodblock prints.

The final printed version was digitalised and the white dot removed from the fox’s eyes for clarity. It now features on the reverse of every Sekford watch

Why do you think engraving endures in popularity?
For the same reasons that first drew me to it; its timelessness and the deceptive simplicity of line and form it allows. To my eye, it’s clean, pure, deeply satisfying and, when done right, completely beautiful.

How did designing the Sekford fox differ from your other projects?
The Sekford logo was the first truly collaborative project I’ve undertaken. What I was trying to create was central to the company’s identity, and I felt the responsibility keenly. Sekford’s input helped lead the project in directions it might not necessarily have gone otherwise, but with rewards that I hope are self evident in the finished logo.The fox now appears across all of Sekford’s branding, from certificates of warranty to the limited edition prints that Mark produces, numbers and signs for special events

What does the new year hold for Inkshed Press?
Christmas was a busy period, with commissions backing up and my Christmas card collection to finish, but now I hope, for what seems like the first time in an age, to be able to get on with some new original work of my own.

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