Aged 22, half-German, half-English Londoner Dieter Ashton is fresh from a BA in Illustration and Visual Media at the London College of Communication and about to embark on a masters print course at The Royal College.
“I spent many years experimenting and waiting to find what my chosen medium was going to be and I think my degree was really helpful with that because of how open and flexible it was to a variety of ways of working,” Dieter notes. “Although at this point I have ended up taking a more fine art direction I still feel having been on this course has been the right move for me as when I started I didn’t feel as confident in working so autonomously.”
“During my second year I started experimenting with screenprinting for one of my projects and as soon as I understood the process I instinctively began to feel that being a printmaker was my calling,” he continues. “Finding print as my medium has been my absolute saviour and such a relief more than anything else.”
Dieter’s latest work makes use of an unconventional material: sourcing old analogue recording tape, Dieter repurposes it as a abstract drawing implement. “For the past year I have developed a controlled drawing and print style through an arbitrary process of exposing VHS and audio cassette tape onto silk screens and printing the results through an extensive, reductive screen print process,” the artist explains. “Initially I was actually more interested in how the VHS boxes looked when upright like the spine of a book and was experimenting with distorting the bitmapped imagery almost like when the tape gets distorted and fuzzy.
“After trying a few of these I felt like I was spending too much time with my computer and wanted to try and see if I could do something else with my material. It occurred to me that if I took the tape out of the cassettes I could use them to create compositions on my silkscreens to print with. Initially I was using screen filler so I would only have one image and then the patterns would be manually created by masking off and filling in the stencil and printing the layers exactly over the top of each other.
“Recently I have developed the style a bit more and by re-coating and re-exposing my screens with more VHS and cassette tape so I have been filling in the designs with further patterns of the tape which has been exciting. I’ve also taken the tape into different print processes like relief printing and lithography which creates a much more textural image with a depth that really sets them apart from the screenprints.
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