Why enter the International Original Print Exhibition?

Some words of wisdom from previous exhibitors

The International Original Print Exhibition (IOPE) is a prestigious and eagerly anticipated event for those looking to showcase their printmaking prowess. Established by the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE), this annual open submission competition welcomes artists from around the globe to demonstrate their talents and visions through the medium of printmaking.


With the deadline rapidly approaching, we're sure you are all feverishly working away on your masterpieces! But just in case you needed a final bit of motivation, we spoke with four brilliant artists - Alex Beattie ARE, Fiona Fouhy ARE, Brendan Hansbro ARE and Ali Yanya ARE - who exhibited in last year's IOPE 2022, to hear more from them about the experience. All four artists have since been elected Associate Members of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers!


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Alex Beattie ARELiving Room Dreaming - Ordovician Reef


Your work was selected in last year’s International Original Print Exhibition – how did you find it being involved in this exhibition?

Alex Beattie ARE: "I discovered IOPE last year, and it was my first introduction to the fantastic work of the RE. Exhibiting there was a complete joy - a wonderful, light-filled gallery right on the river, and an opportunity to meet a dedicated group who share a passion for contemporary fine-art printmaking in all its wonderful, juicy forms."


Fiona Fouhy ARE: "I enjoyed being involved in the exhibition - the organisation of it was clear, well thought through and professionally done. The opening night was a lovely event and I was honoured to have received two prizes from the exhibition. The Ironbridge Fine Art prize was a much-needed beautiful large roller and it was a great introduction to their business! The Jackson’s ’Peoples choice’ award came as a wonderful surprise at the end of the exhibition."


Brendan Hansbro ARE: "Involvement in last year's IOPE helped in boosting my confidence in my new printmaking, and getting people to see it in a central London gallery of a famous institution."


Ali Yanya ARE: "It is a privilege to be included in a society which represents contemporary printmaking within it’s historical context. The International Open Print Exhibition demonstrates this approach with the selection of high quality work by dedicated artists."


Fiona Fouhy ARE, Unveiling


The deadline for this year’s International Original Print Exhibition is fast approaching! What would you say to someone who was considering applying? What are some of the benefits for artists taking part in these kinds of competitions?

Fiona Fouhy ARE: "To anyone thinking of applying to the exhibition I would say that it is well worth it for the exposure – Bankside Gallery is in a great location and has lots of visitors. To be selected for this is an honour and is great for your CV! 

"The prizes are a bonus as well. You get to show alongside fantastic printmakers to an international audience. The way that the work is hung is well spaced so that all the work is visible – nothing hung too low or too high to be seen. There is of course the possibility that you might sell your work also."


Brendan Hansbro ARE: "My previous two points also answer why I would recommend to someone else to apply. There is also the benefit of the deadline to produce work that gives structure and discipline to ones practise. It is all too easy to drift and put off finishing work without that goal, as life can just get in the way!"


Brendan Hansbro ARE, Westminster Kraken, 2022


Congratulations on recently being elected a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers! What does this mean for you? Why did you apply for RE membership?

Alex Beattie ARE: "I decided immediately after the show [International Original Print Exhibition] that I wanted to be involved with the RE, and was recently elected an Associate Member, which is incredibly exciting. I'd definitely encourage all printmakers to apply!"


Fiona Fouhy ARE: "I was delighted to be elected as an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. I applied because I felt that it might be a good step forward for my career if I were selected. I hoped that it might give me new opportunities for residencies, getting my work seen and selling it. I didn’t quite expect to get selected(!) and so it is a welcome affirmation from peers and encouragement for me to keep going! I am also very chuffed to now have my work in the Ashmolean Museum collection."


Brendan Hansbro ARE: "Being elected as an ARE has given me an enormous confidence boost. I feel rather like Proximo in the film Gladiator finally returning to Rome after years in 'flea ridden villages.' I was with The Curwen Gallery for over twenty years until it closed in 2018 and the sad deaths of John and then Jill, it's directors. They were very much my family. I have been, these last five years, rather lost in my own flea ridden village without them.

"I hope that being in the RE can be a new family for me? I have learnt that although I am a very cliched lonely artist in my garret who craves solitude in practise, I also, for my mental health and well being, need to be part of a group where one's identity as an artist is the driver."


Ali Yanya ARE, Untitled II


Finally, do you have any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring printmakers?

Fiona Fouhy ARE: "For aspiring printmakers I’d say, find which medium most suits your voice and expression of your ideas and push it as far as you can. Have fun and play! Keep going even when you make really rubbish work… some good ones will sometimes come your way!"


Brendan Hansbro ARE: "Make your practise life-proof. Be able to work no matter how unfortunate your life and finances may become. Make sure you can create a print studio even in a bed sit or homeless hostel; I learnt to wood engrave in a corner of a rented squalid kitchen in The Balls Pond Road many years ago. Refuse to be a victim of circumstance and you won't be! And dare to fail, learn through mistakes, don't be afraid of making bad art - you just have to bin it and start over, like making pancakes."


Thank you Alex, Fiona, Brendan and Ali!


The deadline for this year's International Original Print Exhibition 2023 has been extended to Monday 10 July, 11:59pm (UK time). Selected works will be exhibited at Bankside Gallery in September! To find out more about the competition and to enter, visit the website of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers here.


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Read: Printmaking Techniques Explained: What exactly is an 'original print'?

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June 16, 2023