YORK illustrator, printmaker and erstwhile CBeebies animator Marc Godfrey-Murphy, alias MarcoLooks, is launching a Print Swap from Friday to bring together artists across Yorkshire and beyond.
Marc is inviting peers and fellow illustrators and artists who sell their work online – “even if it’s just an Etsy shop with two or three listings,” he says – to take part in the MarcoLooks Print Swap to share and support each other’s work.
Applications to join the Print Swap will be open from April to June. Artists involved should send Marc a batch of their prints, then in return, they will receive a selection of new prints from the other artists taking part.
To celebrate, at the end of summer, when the swap finishes, the Courthouse at Rural Arts, North Yorkshire’s only professionally run cross-discipline arts centre, in Thirsk, will be home to an exhibition of all the prints in the Print Swap.
Marc has been selling his prints, cards and stationery items in York since 2018. Now, sensing there sometimes can be a turf war among artists who might create similar work, he felt inspired to set up the print swap to encourage and strengthen the sense of community over competition.
“The lack of events over the past year has driven me to create something community focused for indie artists to get involved with,” he says. “It’s also my 40th birthday this week, so what better way to celebrate than all coming together to share our work with each other, and what better way to finish the swap than by showing all the prints that have taken part at the beautiful Rural Arts in Thirsk?
“I’ll be co-ordinating the print swap, so everyone taking part receives a portfolio of prints from the other artists taking part. They can hang them in their studio and hopefully be inspired by them and connect with the other artists whose work they might be unfamiliar with.”
The Print Swap is launching on April 16. Any artist can take part in the print swap, providing they sell their work either on their own website, at events, or through a platform such as Etsy or Folksy. For more information, visit Marc’s website at marcolooks.com and click on “Print Swap” from the top menu.
Here CharlesHutchPress learns more from MarcoLooks about his Print Swap.
How widely will you be spreading the reach of Print Swap?
“The MarcoLooks Print Swap is really aimed at indie artists based in the UK. That being said, I belong to a couple of international art groups, and I know that some of my artist friends from across the world would be keen to get involved.
“Leaving them out feels against the spirit of the connection and collaboration I’m trying to create. So, it will be open for anyone wishing to get involved regardless of location. I’m hoping, though, that I’ll be seeing a lot of my York-based artist friends getting involved to help represent one of the best cities in the world!”
What made you choose this model for the Print Swap: straight swaps, as with football stickers, rather than any financial exchange?
“I often swap my work with other artists. It creates a heavier sense of value on the work somehow, like it’s become more of a gift exchange, than anything to do with money. It feels more special.
“Having taken part in similar exchanges before, it’s really exciting when you look through the prints you’ve been sent and the thrill of falling in love with an artist’s work who you’ve never heard of before. It’s like a Secret Santa for art prints.
“There will be a small admin fee to take part, which largely covers return postage costs. In the past, I’ve taken part in exchanges which have charged up to £20 to get involved, but I wanted to make it as accessible as possible.
“Being a small business, I know that every expense counts so I didn’t want to create any financial barriers to stop other artists – with their own indie businesses – from getting involved too.”
On which date is your birthday?
“I’ll be turning 40 on Thursday 15th. Eeek! I really wanted to do something special to mark the occasion, so this is it! Age is just a mindset though, right?”
What exhibitions do you have coming up this year?
“Right now, my focus is on getting back to art markets and making a success of the MarcoLooks Print Swap. I always update my Instagram with any shows that I’ll be taking part in, so be sure to follow me over there (@marcolooks) for all the latest updates from me.”
Will you be taking part in York Open Studios again in July?
“Sadly, I didn’t get accepted into Open Studios this year. The pieces I submitted ‘for the judging panel’ were from an ongoing set of monotone, abstract line illustrations based around the themes of body image and eating disorders among men in the LGBTQ+ community.
“They told me the idea didn’t feel developed enough. That feedback stung a bit, to be honest, especially considering the issue is seldom brought to the table, but hey.
“So here I am now, creating more art-based opportunities, for more artists, with no auditions. Everyone can get involved, the only prerequisite is that you are a professional artist, which, for these purposes I’m defining as you sell your work, either in an Etsy shop, somewhere else online, or at live markets.”
What MarcoLooks works will you be looking to swap?
“Ah ha! I haven’t created it yet. I know what it’s going to be, though. The Print Swap is open until the end of June, so there’s plenty of time to get creative. Each artist will send me six copies of the same print. Five will be distributed to the other artists, with the sixth featuring in the show at the end of summer/in the autumn.”
Will works be for sale at the Thirsk exhibition?
“Yes. I’m keen to support our community of artists wherever I can, so all artists taking part will have the opportunity to sell their print. They will have their details available for anyone looking to buy more work by an artist who caught their eye. It’s going to be great!
“The exact exhibition dates are yet to be announced.”
This is how MarcoLooks Print Swap will work:
WHAT: The Print Swap is open to all artists within the UK. The only caveat is you must be selling your work somewhere online, either Etsy, Folksy, your own website or at markets.
ACCEPTED MEDIA: Art print. Any paper is fine. There is no theme. Your name and social media handle should be on the back of each print, so your recipient will know where to find you.
PAPER: A5 (210 by 148 mm). Printed image size is up to you. You must provide six prints. If you want to submit part of a limited edition, that is completely up to you.
THE SWAP: A portfolio of five randomly selected prints will be mailed to each participant at the end of Summer 2021 (exact dates TBC). MarcoLooks will keep one print from each participant submitted to the exchange for exhibition and promotional purposes. Participants will be notified when all print swaps have been shipped.
PARTICIPATION FEE: £6 to be paid at https://www.marcolooks.com/pages/marcolooks-print-swap
DEADLINE: Prints and all participation fees must be received by Wednesday, June 30 2021.
EXHIBITIONS: All submitted prints will be exhibited, in the autumn, in the Courthouse at Rural Arts, in Thirsk. Additional venues and exhibitions may be added along the way…watch this space!
REPRODUCTION: All participating prints will be put in a web gallery and may be reproduced digitally to promote additional exhibitions or future exchanges. Proper credit will be given to the artist on reproduction; no monetary value will be associated with reproduction.
IMPORTANT: All prints must conform to the guidelines. Any prints that do not fit the guidelines will be returned to the artist. *£6 GBP participation fee is not refundable.
SHIPPING: Your complete edition of six prints should be posted in a hard-backed envelope. Prints should be mailed to MarcoLooks, Blake House, 18 Blake Street, York, Yo1 8QG, along with your order number and legible entry form. Prints will not be accepted without £6 payment. Payment is due no later than June 30.
SOCIAL MEDIA: As prints arrive, Marc will be uploading images to the MarcoLooks Instagram, showcasing the variety of work and artists joining the exchange. Follow the exchange on social media: Instagram @Marcolooks. Social media savvy? Hashtag your works in progress or completed works using the hashtag #MLPrintSwap.