Eliza Southwood interview

The artist behind 2019's cycling year: our collaboration with Eliza Southwood.

Graffio Arts has produced a limited run of 14 of Eliza Southwood's The Chase fine art prints that are being given away to stage winners throughout the 2019 year of cycling.

You want cycling art? Eliza is your go-to. Before becoming a full-time artist Eliza had many jobs including Stable Hand, Flamenco Dance Teacher and Researcher for the BBC...


A conversation between Arts & Eliza Southwood, London, 2019.

Eliza, tell us what do you do and why do you do it? 

I illustrate, paint and make prints because it’s what I’m best at and I enjoy it.


When did you first realise you had a passion / artistic ability?

Since I could hold a paintbrush. Around 3 or 4 years old.


Cycling features heavily in your work, are you personally interested in cycling?

It’s quite hard to make art featuring something you’re not interested in, so yes. I watch the big cycling races and I love the variety in cycling.



Any other jobs that you've had other than artist?

Stable hand, flamenco dance teacher for old American ladies, teaching kids English in a summer school, junior researcher for a BBC programme, photographer for an engineering company, building site translator for an Italian robot manufacturer, secretary (lasted a week), au pair (also lasted a week), barmaid, cloakroom attendant, architect.


What do you like most about your work?

The flexibility and just being able to create nice stuff.


For those not familiar with silk-screen printing, could you talk through the process?

I start off with a hand drawing or painting. Then I scan what I’ve drawn, and separate the colours digitally. I then get them printed onto semi transparent film in order to create my stencils.
Over at the printing studio, I coat a screen with a photosensitive coating and let it dry. Then I take my stencils, one at a time, and place one on a lightbox with the coated screen resting on top. The screen is blasted with ultraviolet light. The screen gets washed out with a power hose leaving the impression of the stencil where the light hasn’t reached.
The screen is then fastened to a vacuum print bed (the vacuum helps the paper stay still) and I pull the ink through the screen using a squeegee. I start with the lighter colours first. The whole process is repeated with each colour applied. Each time I put on a new colour I have to register each piece of paper individually so the ink layer comes out in the right place.
It takes about a week to make an edition of around 60-70 prints.


Has your practice evolved over time?

Yes, definitely. I’d quite happily burn most of my older work.



How do you decide when to stop / when your work's finished?

That’s quite difficult. Usually simpler is better.


Is it about self indulgence, or is there a deeper meaning to your practice?

It’s totally about self-indulgence. If there’s a meaning, it’s not very profound.


What's essential to the work of any artist?

The artist has to believe in what they’re creating. If there’s passion behind it, it’s worth doing. Even if it looks crap. Having said that, the world is awash with crap art.


Is there a specific part of what you do that you enjoy the most?

I like doing stuff for myself. Whether it sells or not is irrelevant. Sometimes I take on too many commissions, which is restricting.


Is there anything that irritates you about the art world?

I feel the same way about the art world as I do about quantum physics: I don’t really understand it. Ultimately it all boils down to money.


What's next for you?

A series of large landscapes. And a couple of art fairs I have to do.



If you'd like to get a version of The Chase by Eliza Southwood, it's available exclusively on Graffio Arts HERE