Nell Smith


Nell is illustrator and printmaker working from a studio at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Her practice investigates painterly mono screen printing, the labour behind hand-made work and the physicality of printmaking. Nell’s work falls between printing, painting and collage, combining screen printing techniques she develops contemporary, expressive compositions with an uplifting use of colour.

Emmeline Pankhurst by Nell Smith

Artist Spotlight

How would you describe what you do?

I am an illustrator and printmaker working with lino and screenprinting. My linocuts are

representational and graphic, whereas my screen prints are abstract, painterly and process driven. I hope that both sides of my practice convey joy and expressiveness.

Is there a particular project or career highlight that has has a meaningful impact on your career?

Women In Print at Dunham Massey was such a fantastic opportunity, it gave me the confidence to pursue the more illustrative side of my practice, and led to stocking work in the shop and successfully applying to create a commission for H+K offices in London. Exhibiting alongside some incredible artists was a total privilege.

How does print feature in your work?

My work is all about traditional printmaking processes, used in a contemporary way. Everything I do is made by hand, and I use an Albion hand press from the 1800s to print my linocuts, it’s a thing of beauty. I love the physicality of printmaking. How do you create your ideal work space and conditions needed to be creative? I have a studio space at Hot Bed Press, I wouldn’t say it’s the ideal space as it’s a complete tip! I keep saying I’m going to have a clearout, but every time I go into my studio I just start working immediately, and ignore the mess. I wouldn’t say I’m a hoarder, but I do have a tendency to keep things ‘just in case’ they’ll come in handy for a workshop. They never do. As long as my desk is clear, it’s all good. I’m lucky because I can then go out into the printroom to make my final prints, spread out and make even more mess! I always have music or podcasts on in my studio, and sometimes have headphones on in the printroom, but once I start printing I’m completely absorbed in what I’m doing, and don’t really notice any background noise.

Where do you seek inspiration?

Galleries, books, music, films and walks in nature are all sources of inspiration. I’m a huge bird nerd and spend a lot of time admiring the visitors to the feeders in my yard. Also being surrounded by other artists in the printroom is hugely inspiring. I do follow a lot of creative people on Instagram but I find it more inhibiting than inspiring sometimes. Getting away from screens is helpful for my creative process.

What’s the best advice someone has given you?

Best advice I’ve been given — join Hot Bed Press, although it took me years to follow that advice!

We’d like to ask you to recommend a ‘woman in print’ to us…

Elizabeth Willow was my tutor on the Complete Letterpress Printmaker course at Hot Bed Press a few years ago. She is a fantastic, patient and nurturing teacher, with her own truly beautiful practice. She makes limited edition artist’s books, celebrating nature, and small, intimate moments. They are a complete joy, and it was a pleasure to gain an insight into the wonderful world of letterpress under her expert guidance.