Alyson Hunter graduated from the RCA in Printmaking back in 1973, and has had a thriving practice as a printmaker since then. Here, she shares her thoughts on how to organise your working environment
I keep everything quite tidy as I am dyslexic and cannot remember where things are. I keep different projects and the tools separate. I need lots of table space for the same reason, I have to put stuff about on it to show my progression and so everything is at hand.
I learned to be clean in working when I did a postgraduate year at Chelsea College of Art, I was told to stay back and clean the blush of ink off the glass top which I had missed. While using damp paper in etching you have to be so careful not to mark it after an hour hand-colouring a plate. This slows me down as I always rush things, having worked as a master printer in New York.
At the Royal College I had a very small space in the printmaking department. I just used it to rest as I had a chair and a little table under some stairs. At home in Ravenscroft Street in the East End off Columbia Road, I had a big loft-type studio I shared with Darcy Lange, a RCA sculpture student who had gone on to make videos, so I had enough room to work.
Editioning my prints was frowned on at the RCA so I printed all my work at Islington Studios up in Highbury Corner and not at the college. I had to sell work as I had no grant to go to the RCA. My etchings sold well and it enabled me to go there. Eventually I became a Director of Islington Studios and learned how to edition other artist's work. I now have a studio and a stockroom in South East London and go out to make images in government funded studios.
My advice to current RCA students is, go into college nine to five as you will never get the chance again. Have a place at home to go over the work and to show what you are doing to other people. When working, tidy up and get some air; that should be part of your working time. You could overwork a piece if you don't have breaks. Use the library there to educate yourself and pick up technological advances in art materials and digital experiments in new media.