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Tucked at the east end of North Street amidst a wealth of independents, Frankenstein Press is a printmaking studio offering courses and workshops in traditional techniques – from linocut to wood engraving and drypoint.
Founded by long-time artistic collaborators and real-life partners, Anna Ruiz and Cristian Zuzunaga, it is a space that celebrates “the tactile, the tangible, and the authentic”.
Frankenstein Press will also host a curated exhibition every season; Spring 2024 featured a collection of work under the umbrella A for Analogue, and Summer will welcome B is for Book, curated by Sarah Bodman of the Centre for Print and Research at the School of Arts, UWE Bristol.
The studio has also announced a partnership with Upfest: Europe’s largest graffiti festival, as part of the creative workshop programme for summer 2024’s Upfest Presents.
Joining Bristol24/7, Zuzunaga shared his vision for the space, and reflected on where it all began.

How would you sum up the creative ethos that underpins Frankenstein Press?
“Frankenstein Press aligns with the uncertainties we encounter in the face of rapid technological advancement and the pervasive influence of artificial intelligence. In this age of instant gratification and social media dominance, we firmly believe in the importance of striking a balance between digital technologies and the human-made, analogue experiences.
“Our mission is to advocate for a slower pace, nurture genuine human connections, and provide a much-needed counterbalance to the pervasive influence of digital technology. We are committed to promoting the value of craftsmanship, artistry, and the profound human connection that can be forged through the printed word.
“In an era where everything seems to move at lightning speed, we extend an invitation to embark on a journey that celebrates the beauty of the analogue, cherishes the preservation of tradition, and embraces the enduring power of human creativity.”

When you think about your personal relationship with printmaking, where and how did the fascination first take root?
“Anna and I met while studying at the London College of Communication (2001-2005). We were studying different courses and in different years but our passion for printmaking started there, and it is, in a way, what bonded us together.
“In my case it was in 2004, when I discovered letterpress. Through this new medium I realised endless links with graphic design, photography and architecture and I started to experiment, visually representing conceptual ideas and thoughts. That is when I started to develop a new visual direction based on squares and geometric shapes that was going to change my life.
“Anna’s introduction to printmaking began during her BA at the LCC in London in 2006. However, it wasn’t until around 2012 that she rediscovered her passion for the artistic process. Having spent many years in the fast-paced environment of the fashion industry, Anna felt a strong desire to return to working with her hands and to experience the meditative nature of hand carving and printing. Printmaking provided her with a moment of connection to both herself and her creativity.”

How does being part of the creative fabric of south Bristol – particularly as an independent business amongst the many on North St – shape the work that you do?
“We aim to be a place where people can connect and share creative experiences while learning about printmaking. Since opening, we’ve been dedicated to disseminating our expertise in printmaking techniques through workshops and events, filling a unique niche in our local area. We’re particularly enthusiastic about introducing children to printmaking through engaging activities involving stamps, Lego, and natural materials.
“We firmly believe that by promoting traditional printmaking, we can instill in people appreciation or the value of patience and sustainability, as well as giving them a rewarding, positive and nostalgic experience – connecting people with their inner child.
“Having a physical shopfront has enabled us to forge connections with the local community, including those who may not have previously considered printmaking. Many have found themselves unexpectedly drawn to our studio after catching sight of our machines through the shop window.”

What is your experience of working with people who are discovering linocut, drypoint or wood engraving for the first time? Is it something everyone can learn?
“Attendees of our workshops frequently express a sense of wellbeing and mindfulness following the process of carving and printing. Working with one’s hands and employing sharp tools demands concentration and focus, fostering relaxation and connection.
“In an age dominated by digital distractions and constant multitasking, the ability to immerse oneself in a single task has a profoundly positive impact. Linocut is accessible to all; one need not be a skilled draftsman or particularly artistic. It accommodates a wide range of styles, from abstract to highly illustrative pieces.”
Frankenstein Press will be hosting creative workshops for Upfest: Presents from May 20-June 1.
The summer exhibition ‘B is for Book’ is at Frankenstein Press from June 28-July 19, at 10.30am-5pm weekends, and Monday-Friday by appointment. There is a private view on the opening evening, from 6-8pm.
The exhibition also launches the weekend of BABE – Bristol Artist’s Book Event at UWE Bristol’s Bower Ashton campus on June 29-30 at 11am-5pm. This is a free event; all welcome.

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