New Artist / Katy Binks

It gives us great pleasure to introduce Katy Binks, a visual artist and designer with an eye for bold, colourful compositions, and the most recent addition to our fledgling gallery/collective.

Katy's creative practice is broad and distinctly colourful, encompassing silkscreen prints, murals, installations, silk scarves and more. Her first editions for Look Up, 'Janus I' and 'Janus II', reflect a practice primarily concerned with colour and form, and a penchant for graphic imagery informed by both her academic background and her travels. More specifically, her 'Janus' series prints were inspired by an interest in Bruno Munari's writings on Janus-faced designs.

'Janus II' by Katy Binks (two–colour screenprint, edition of 10, 70 x 100cm)

"I like the idea that you can create something quite complex from something  simple," says Katy. "There's a chapter in 'Design as Art' called 'Posters Without End', where he talks about designs being 'Janus–faced' – posters laid side by side that combine in unforeseen ways. That really resonated with what I was trying to do, the idea of repetition, where positive and negative space combine in new and unpredictable ways. For me it was always quite exciting, the unexpected."

'Janus I' by Katy Binks (two–colour screenprint, edition of 10, 70 x 100cm)

With their crisp graphic shapes and bold colour combinations, Katy’s 'Janus' prints pack a genuine punch. They may be inspired by Munari’s writing on Janus-faced designs, Katy's first editions for Look Up look great individually, or as a pair... And they're bound to look amazing together, mural style, filling a wall with their bold, Janus-faced design. If that happens, we'll definitely share an image on our blog. Both prints employ the same graphic motif, so it's worth noting the different impact of their colour palettes. 'Janus I' recalls Constructivist art, combining red, black and white to great effect, and while 'Janus II' employs a comparatively quieter palette it still packs a punch. 

'Janus II' on the drying rack at Bainbridge Print Studios (photo by Amelia Lester-Hinchcliffe)

"Sometimes I can get lost in the possibilities when it comes to print, so I decided to start working in a really reductive way, using only hand cut stencils creating one off prints and only allowing myself to use two colours, red and black. These prints came from that, a really simple set up that cut out the need for an exposure unit which I didn't have access to at the time. When it came to making an edition I went back to exposing screens. I love red and black. Red is really the only colour powerful enough to balance out black, I feel. They're a natural combo and I'm always working towards this visual balance when I use colours, so it's important for me to find the right colour connections."

Katy Binks printing 'Janus II' at Bainbridge Print Studios (photo by Amelia Lester-Hinchcliffe)

What's more, the power of their composition is emphasised by the scale of the prints, with both editions measuring 70 x 100cm. They're big, and silkscreen prints this size can be rather demanding to print. "It's definitely a really physical process, but it's something I enjoy. Large areas of flat colour can be tricky. The registration has to be bang on; there's nowhere to hide the mistakes and I'm quite a perfectionist..."

Katy's screen–printed poster mural in the Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle

Katy's rich graphic palette is informed by a questing, experimental spirit and a desire to engage with the urban environment, not to mention her travels. Her parents' work carried her far and wide and as a teenager she lived in South Korea, where the visual landscape had a huge impact on her aesthetic sensibility. She now lives in Brixton, a borough with its fair share of exotic visual stimulae, from African textiles and a vibrant street art culture, to a burgeoning creative scene.

 Katy came to printmaking a roundabout way. She began a degree in Architecture before switching to Graphic Design and finally, Graphic Arts at the University of East London – a course that exposed her to the myriad delights of screenprinting. Smitten by print, she joined the MA Printmaking course at Camberwell, a mecca for inky fingered creatives. Having graduated in 2013, Katy was included in the prestigious Catlin Guide, which recognised her as one of the UK’s most promising emerging artists.

'Kartel' silk scarf designed by Katy Binks, available from The Scarf Gallery

We’re delighted that Katy is the latest artist to join our fledgling collective. We love the colour, simplicity and uncompromising boldness of her first editions, and we look forward to watching her work develop in the months and years ahead.

Katy Binks on Look Up