Ruth Green is a printmaker based in Birmingham. Her brightly coloured compositions are inspired by mid-century design and the animals and plants of the British countryside. She uses makes signed and numbered screen-prints in small, collectable editions. Ruth is a member of the ‘Girls Who Draw‘ illustrator’s collective. They publish postcard books to showcase their work and exhibit as a group, recently at the Library of Birmingham and The Royal Shakespeare Company. Ruth’s prints have appeared in Elle Decoration and the design book Print and Pattern 2. In 2011, Tate Publishing produced Ruth’s first book for children, Noisy Neighbours. She is currently working on her second.
How did you get started?
I began freelancing as a textiles designer after finishing my degree (also in textile design), back in 1994. I worked for various studios for about ten years, until I was awarded an Individual Artists’ support grant from the Arts Council in 2004. This bought me some time to develop my portfolio and begin to explore printmaking.
What’s the story behind your business name?
No mystery here! I use my name, keeps things simple.
What does your typical day look like?
Breakfast, followed by a good walk around the park with the dog. Some days I go to the gym for an hour after that, and then get stuck into some admin or orders before lunch. After that it’s printing, drawing or preparing work for shows until around 7. After dinner, I usually do another hour or so on the day’s projects, then collapse on the sofa for a bit of TV or a good read.
How long is your commute to work?
I work at home, in the top floor of our house. The morning walk with the dog takes about an hour, so this takes the place of a commute, and I use the time to plan the day ahead.
Describe your workspace.
We moved house in 2009, partly because my work was taking over our terraced house. We managed to find a bigger place in the same area, and converted the top floor into a studio. Two small attic bedrooms were knocked through, and we plumbed in a sink to wash out screens. There are two skylights, and beautiful old oriel window, so plenty of light. It’s quite high up, so I can see all the nesting birds and squirrel antics in the neighbouring trees. I have a large trestle table in the centre of the room, which is the print table. I grow chillies and geraniums on the windowsill, and have a couple of shelves of my favourite books on hand for inspiration. And there’s a sofa, which is usually inhabited by a sleeping greyhound.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished working on my second children’s book for Tate Publishing. It’s called Stanley’s Plan and will be out in 2015.
What’s your worst work habit?
Too much time spent on social media, and sneaking off to the garden when the sun is out.
Who are your main influences?
I always come back to Stig Lindberg and Bjorn Wiinblad. Scandinavian design and folk art are a key part of my approach to design.
Name three of your hero brands.
How do you stay creative?
I think my creativity has its roots in my ability to criticise my own work. Years of working as a commercial designer gave me a strong sense of what works and what doesn’t. If I’m not 100% happy, it’s back to the drawing board. Creativity needs space, too, and it’s important to get away from the studio. I’m a keen gardener and allotmenteer, and often my best ideas happen when I’m digging spuds or in the greenhouse.
How do you stay true to your values in a competitive marketplace?
I’m excited by my work, and I hope that this shows in the final products. The day I get bored will be the day I stop.
What is your biggest challenge?
Christmas! I’m getting lots of new products and prints ready for the festive season. It’s always chaotic, with lots of events and orders. It’s great to be so busy though.
What are you most proud of?
Nothing could beat the feeling of opening the package containing my first book, Noisy Neighbours. It was published in 2011 and reprinted in paperback this year.
Name three favourite things.
Dogs, gardens and toast.
What one trend really excites you?
There’s been a resurgence of interest in British folk art recently, partly due to the exhibition at the Tate this Summer. I love the naïve style, and sometimes bizarre subject matter.
If you were to start over, what would you do differently?
I wonder if I should have trained as a fine art printmaker, rather than going down the textiles route. Most of my techniques are self taught, it would have been interesting to have had a more solid, technical base. I’m planning to take part in a few workshops next year.
What tips would you give to anyone starting out?
Do your research. Look at other artists, and how they present their practice.
Can you recommend a business or personal development book?
No, I’m afraid I’ve never read one.
What’s your alternative dream career?
A plant hunter, travelling the world to find new species.
Name three people we should all be following.
Tell us something about you we don’t know.
I can play the French Horn.