Author: Alicia Muir

Underway Studio: The Interview

Underway Studio is an illustration and printmaking collective based in Brixton, South London. Founded in 2016, the four members of Underway Studio work collaboratively on design projects using silk-screen print as a primary medium. We had some burning questions to ask and were thrilled to get the opportunity to speak with the artists about how they work together, the influence of architecture, and what they love about screen printing. 

 

How did you all come to be working together as Underway Studio?

We all studied on the same illustration course at University of Westminster but across different years. Caitlin and Melissa collaborated on a few projects during this time and pretty much set up camp in the university print room during their third year. Recognising that screenprinting was an essential part of their practices, they decided to pursue setting up a studio together after graduating. Knowing that screenprint equipment is hard to come by, can be expensive and requires a lot of space, the idea of going in together on this venture made their shared vision of pursuing a creative career in printmaking a lot easier to achieve. Initially, the studio was just a physical space for us all to work in, bounce ideas off one another and keep each other motivated. Members came and went, and we moved studios twice before settling in our current space in Brixton. Over this time, Aidy and Anna joined the team and we started our first foray into collaborative working on one or two questionable prints. After finally nailing the composition of our first Brutalist architecture themed print, ‘Brutal Icons’, we decided to dive further into the collaborative process and put together our first solo show as Underway Studio collective. This was called ‘Printed Spaces’ and was a celebration of cultural spaces in London. The show was a big success and set the path for the Underway Studio we know today.

Underway Studio: The Interview | Image
Barbican by Underway Studio
Underway Studio: The Interview | Image

 

Can you talk us through your creative process? How do your ideas develop, and do you each bring a different skill or approach to the printing process?

Everything created by Underway Studio is a collaborative work between the four artists. When starting on a brief or print design, we will always discuss any ideas first as a group. The next step is gathering imagery for the project, taking photos and finding or creating relevant textures to be used in the design. One of us will then begin working on a rough in Photoshop. Print designs are passed between the collective until they are finalised and ready to be screen printed. As a result, the artworks have an impression from each artist creating a unique aesthetic.

What do you see as the benefits of working collaboratively, rather than as an individual?

Working collaboratively means you have the skill set, thoughts, ideas and imagination of four artists, not one. This can be complicated, but over the years we have settled into a rhythm within our work process. It is important that we trust each others visual language and let go of our individual ideas of the finished design. Now, if one of us is stuck on a composition for a print, we’ll know which one of the collective to pass it to to solve the problem. We each have different ways of approaching colour, composition and even cutting out shapes and photos. This is why it’s important for us to pass the designs between each four members before going to print so that they have a stamp from everyone.

Underway Studio: The Interview | Image
Battersea Power Station by Underway Studio
Underway Studio: The Interview | Image

 

What draws you to the buildings and landmarks you choose to depict?

There isn’t one answer to this question. We are drawn to them for numerous reasons such as the building's history, cultural context and location as well as its structure, design or material.

Where does your interest in architecture and design come from?

Buildings are all around us, so architecture is something that everyone can relate to. I think our initial interest started with us all being drawn to iconic brutalist buildings in London such as the Barbican and National Theatre. The bold, concrete shapes of these buildings are very graphic and so they lend themselves perfectly to the screenprint aesthetic. Our initial portfolio was a direct response to cultural spaces in the capital city but we have branched out to other areas of the UK. We often get requests for prints about different buildings and locations so the theme of architecture and familiar places obviously resonates with a lot of people!

Underway Studio: The Interview | Image
Coal Drops Yard by Underway Studio
Underway Studio: The Interview | Image

 

How does your first artwork compare to your most recent one?

Our first collaborative piece was Brutalist Icons. In comparison to our more recent work, it has a very limited colour palette of just grey and yellow. We’ve definitely ended up developing our ideas around colour and more detailed, layered compositions since then.

Which of your artworks is your favourite? (We realise you might have different answers!)

Yes, we do all have different favourites!

Aidy - I’d have to say Brut Forms III, especially in its collectors edition form. The scale of it works so well and it’s great to know how it started off then developed into quite a bold and confident print.

Anna - Mine is our Barbican print. Not only is it my all time favourite building, I just love how this composition sits together with the combination of photo layers and block silhouette forms. I also love how we’ve been able to simplify it to a 4 colour A2 version too and it’s still bang on!

Caitlin - I’ve always been really drawn to our Battersea Power Station print. I love how the simple colour palette works together and the effectiveness of the added water element.

Melissa - My favourite is The Collector's edition Brutal Forms III because the colours are popping and it’s a statement piece for any wall.

Underway Studio: The Interview | Image
Brutal Forms III: Collectors Edition by Underway Studio
Underway Studio: The Interview | Image

 

What do you enjoy about the screen printing process?

We love the surprising nature of it, the different aesthetics you can achieve by layering up myriad colours and textures and the process of making something with your hands. We love printing our editions but it’s great when we get to be playful and layer up sheets of paper with whatever we have exposed on the screens. This gives us ideas for new compositions and keeps us falling in love with the process over and over again. We always mix our own colours by eye using a number of different pigments. We love the control that we can have over the colours in this way and it always beats what we have designed digitally!

What are your 3 favourite buildings in London?

The Barbican Centre, The National Theatre and Battersea Power Station.

You customized a pair of Adidas Superstars for the brand’s 50th anniversary – how did this differ from creating designs intended to be hung on the walls?

This project was a really fun challenge for us. It pushed us creatively and gave us scope to see how our work could exist outside of a frame hung on a wall. We had to do lots of experiments to see how we could authentically translate our work from 2D to 3D canvas. Initially, we thought about painting abstract shapes onto the shoes but this didn’t reflect our work. Instead, we settled on good old cut and paste! We printed up sheets of thin paper with motifs relating to basketball, hip hop culture, street art - all the things the Adidas Superstars encompass - and stuck crops of these to the panels on the shoes. They turned out so beautifully and really captured the playfulness of our work but unfortunately they’re not functional! We would all love to own and wear a pair so Adidas, if you’re reading this, please can we make these shoes for real?

Underway Studio: The Interview | Image
Truman Brewery by Underway Studio
Underway Studio: The Interview | Image

 

 

What can we expect from you in the future?

More experiments in the print room! We want to explore more mono printing within our print range and create some large, one-off artworks. This is where we really have fun, printing with minimal planning and seeing where the process takes us. We’ve also re-launched our screenprinting workshops after a hiatus during covid. We host intimate classes of six participants per session in our Brixton studio. Over a couple of hours we teach students how to design and print a unique artwork using both paper and photographic stencils. Our workshops are themed and one, of course, is centred around architecture! The classes are great fun and we love seeing all the different outcomes you can get from the same theme. More info and booking on our website here: https://www.underwaystudio.com/workshops

 

Head to Underway Studio's artist page here to discover their full collection and keep up to date with all their latest releases. 

NEW RELEASES

Off You Pop by Louise Nordh
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Off You Pop £95

Louise Nordh

35 x 35cm

Limited edition of 30

Inside Mickey's Heart from £150

Angel London

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Navy Boy £175

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 25

I Will Bite from £135

Mathilda Mai

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Italian Summer by SODA
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Italian Summer £125

SODA

42 x 29.7cm

Limited edition of 40

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Linda Charles

56 x 76cm

Limited edition of 45

Wash the Blues Away by Charlie Haydn Taylor
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Wash the Blues Away from £150

Charlie Haydn Taylor

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Inhale £175

Joe Webb

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 30

Roarsome - Green by And Wot
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Roarsome - Green £195

And Wot

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 2

Fresh £200

Hannah Adamaszek

60 x 75.5cm

Limited edition of 15

Destroy the Patriarchy Not the Planet (Mini) £400

Hannah Shillito

27.9 x 21cm

Limited edition of 20

Scratchin' Cats (Blue) £150

The Cameron Twins

33 x 36cm

Limited edition of 20

Fast Dog £95

Gavin Dobson

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 100

Pangolin - Framed by Lisa Lloyd
Ready To Hang
Pangolin - Framed £150 £130

Lisa Lloyd

44 x 44cm

Limited edition of 50

In The Sky With Stars £195

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

70 x 100cm

Limited edition of 16

Meet Me in Matisse's Garden - Framed by Benjamin Thomas Taylor
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Meet Me in Matisse's Garden - Framed £275 £255

Benjamin Thomas Taylor

56 x 76cm

Limited edition of 25

Gamebuoy by Nick Chaffe
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Gamebuoy £100

Nick Chaffe

29.7 x 42cm

Limited edition of 50

Seascape W £300

Newton Blades

50 x 30cm

Limited edition of 100

Space Cadet - Magma by RYCA
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Space Cadet - Magma £180

RYCA

13 x 26cm

Limited edition of 12

Attitude - Framed by Sara Pope
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Attitude - Framed £110

Sara Pope

33.5 x 33.5cm

Limited edition of 100

Ley Lines £450

Maxine Gregson

100 x 50cm

Limited edition of 250

'Amazing' Shell - Framed by Charlie Evaristo-Boyce
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'Amazing' Shell - Framed £125 £113

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

54 x 20cm

Limited edition of 50

What's That Then by Nick Chaffe
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What's That Then £400

Nick Chaffe

27.8 x 54.8cm

Limited edition of 5

Les Oiseaux - Artist Proof £295

Epi

42 x 29.7cm

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See You Later Alligator! £550

The Cameron Twins

51 x 72cm

Limited edition of 10

The Olive Branch (Azzuro) £2,500

Magnus Gjoen

95 x 120cm

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Down The Rabbit Hole... by Mark Petty
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Down The Rabbit Hole... £295

Mark Petty

27 x 37cm

Limited edition of 50

AZUL Mini £125

Florence Blanchard

40 x 40cm

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Blue Sway £170

Angus Vasili

59.4 x 84.1cm

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Made You Look - Neon Pink A4 £40

Heath Kane

21 x 29.7cm

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