Interview with Richard Marsden

We sat down with the Glasgow based artist, Richard Marsden, whose elegant work Semblance, 2021, has quickly become one of our favourite prints. A founding and cooperative member of the Leeds Print Workshop, he uses screenprinting to create formal compositions that explore the relationship of flat spaces of colours and geometric shapes. We hope you enjoy reading his thoughtful answers as much as we did.
How did you become an artist? What’s your training and background? 
I have always loved art and always knew it would play a significant part in my life. After school I did a Foundation course at Leeds College of Art, an undergraduate degree in Graphic Arts and Design at Leeds Beckett University and then a Masters degree in Fine Art Practice (Printmaking) at Glasgow School of Art. I learnt the most while in my final year of my undergraduate degree when I discovered printmaking and had a fantastic tutor who encouraged me to explore the process of screenprinting. I have taught screenprinting workshops to groups, one-to-one and I now work in the gallery at the Glasgow Print Studio where I also make my own work.
Has your approach to printmaking changed once you moved to Glasgow?
My approach and use of printmaking as a technique to create my work hasn’t changed greatly since moving to Glasgow but while I was studying on my Masters the main thing I learnt was that I was interested in formalism rather than abstraction. Any image can be viewed in a formalistic way, studying the composition, colours, contrast, light and lines within an image is possible even if it is highly representational. Although this hasn’t changed the work that much it is probably the most important realisation I have had regarding my work so far. 
Since this realisation I have somewhat returned to architecture, mainly looking at images in construction manuals and thinking about how buildings are constructed and using these as a starting point to extract repeated forms to use to create new formalistic compositions, building in two dimensions.
Agnes Martin, Words, 1961
What (or who) are your influences?
Experimenting with the process of screenprinting really had the biggest influence on my practice and revealed to me that I was interested in geometric abstract art. From there, artists such as Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn and John McLaughlin really stood out. Any artist who committed their life to studying a particular subject, process or concept I found fascinating. Previous to this, architects such as Le Corbusier were a main focus of my research and now I find myself drawn to a multitude of ideas and references, from film to photographs of building sites I take whenever I pass one to fellow printmakers I create my work alongside.
How do you approach the use of colour in your work?
The biggest influence on my use of colour was a lecture by artist David Batchelor and his book Chromophobia, he believes it’s somewhat futile following any sort of colour theory as there are so many ways to apply and view colour. 
How I decide on what colours to use can change between each colour or print; sometimes I might want to study colours of a similar hue, saturation or tone within a particular print, perhaps use a colour because I rarely do; sometimes I’ll look at paintings and prints by other artists to extract different colour palettes. A lot of the time the composition plays a big part. I search for visual balance in each piece and if I’m planning to add a small shape which needs to balance out with a larger space within a print, then perhaps it needs to be much darker or have a much greater saturation to achieve that balance.
Roger Stevens Building, Leeds
What drew you to geometry?
Ever since I started to study in the centre of Leeds, I had admired the Roger Stevens building and the Worsley building of Leeds University and I began my exploration into printmaking by overlapping photographs of these Brutalist beauties. The more layers I added, the more abstract the prints became. It is through this process, that I realised I was just as interested in the geometric forms within the images, as I was the buildings themselves. From this point I began to focus my experimentations on geometric compositions and I’ve never stopped. 
How did you become involved in The Leeds Print Workshop?
Straight after finishing my undergraduate degree I joined the cooperative of the Leeds Print Workshop after being introduced to other members through one of my tutors, we were just getting started and throughout the following year managed to secure premises, get some equipment and find some incredibly hardworking artists to get involved. We put a lot of time and effort to get the workshop up and running and I will always be grateful for the opportunity; the workshop provided me with the space to continue developing my own practise as well as allowing me to teach my own screenprinting workshops. 
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park No. 67, 1973
If you could own any artwork by any artist, what would it be?
I would love to own a painting by Richard Diebenkorn from his Ocean Park series to inspire me or any minimal painting by Agnes Martin to sooth my soul.

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