Artist Q&A: Ellie Way
18 Mar 2021
Ellie Way is a designer based in Wakefield who specialises in print design, screen printing and bespoke concepts for commercial or public settings. Ellie Way's collection of Wakefield Travel Posters were motivated by 'lockdown blues' and inspired by the local settings on her 'one walk a day' around Wakefield.
Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello, I’m Ellie Way and I’m a designer based in Wakefield specialising in print design and screen printing.
Can you describe your workspace?
My workspace needs to be quite adaptable as my work fluctuates daily from designing or packing orders to messier processes like screen printing – so I try to zone my studio a bit to allow me to move between the different jobs I need to do. I have quite an organised space and I’ve really learnt the benefits of that, I like to be able to walk into my studio and just know I’m ready to get on with any work I have. My studio is the place I feel most comfortable, I think. I like to surround myself with all the inspiring things I’ve collected and I really try to make it feel like home – it needs to feel like somewhere I want to be, not that I have to be.
You describe your recent project Wakefield Travel Posters as a love letter to the place you live. Can you tell us about your connection to Wakefield?
I’ve had my studio in Wakefield for just over two years and I very recently decided to move here after living in Leeds for seven years. Wakefield has an interesting energy and odd quirks and I’m enjoying living amongst it, but it’s the people I have met since working here that I feel most connected to. In addition to having a studio at the Art House, I am also their Print Studio Technician and I love being a part of the team and supporting the members of the Print Studio. Everyone works so hard individually and collectively to create an inclusive, creative environment and I really really admire that. It’s been a pleasure to support and feel supported by the community in Wakefield and so I wanted to design something that celebrated where we live and work.
Can you talk us through your making process? What’s your favourite part of the making process?
I’m not really one of those sit down and think kind of people, I’m quite practical and I find that a lot of my ideas come to me when I’m on the move. I start any project with developing colour palettes and textures through screen printing and I try not to move onto the design until I have enough material to work with. I’ll then take what I have screen printed, scan it in and play around with it digitally until I find compositions that I’m happy with. My making process always starts or ends with screen printing as I love to incorporate those interesting irregularities in any work I produce.
My favourite part of my making process is combining all the disciplines I work with. I really enjoy using what I have created in the print studio and developing it digitally or taking what I have designed digitally and exploring it through screen – it keeps it all interesting for me and I couldn’t do one without the other.
Your use of colour is very playful, where does this come from?
I’m really inspired by early 20th-century painters because of their use of unnatural, vivid colours when depicting their surroundings and subjects. I think paintings from that time are so stunning to observe, they almost make me want to transport to that time or place. I find it really interesting that colour can evoke a certain mood or feeling of a different time and this is something that I like to play with in my designs.
The new posters were created during the summer lockdown. What impact did lockdown have on your creativity?
For the first time in a long time I didn’t have a ‘to do’ list and there was no pressure to produce anything for anyone which was really bizarre for me. I’m very lucky to design for a living and I love what I do, but it is a hard industry to work in so I thought I might enjoy having a bit of a break from it. I actually found that I needed my creativity more than ever, I craved a positive distraction from what was going on around us. I found it quite reassuring that during a weird, stressful time I had my creativity to bring me some joy and comfort.
What’s the best creative advice that you ever received?
I wouldn’t say this was advice but in my first year at Leeds College of Art we had to print Sister Corita Kent’s 10 Art Department Rules and I have had Rule 7 pinned to my wall in every space I have worked in.
“The only rule is work.
If you work it will lead to something.
It’s the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch on to things”
I find that reading this to myself when I’m having a wobble always provides me with some motivation to keep going and work through it.
What’s next for you?
I try not to think about it… but I’m excited to find out!
Shop Ellie’s prints online via The Hepworth Wakefield shop