Hello, I'm Michelle Hughes, a printmaker and designer based in York, North Yorkshire.
I create linocut prints inspired by local landscapes, landmarks and nature. Much of my work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
This gives me the opportunity to bring together things I love. Making things, photography, colour, nature and exploring by bike or on foot.
I have always loved working with my hands and making things. I like the spontaneity of making marks with the tools, the quality of line and the graphic style of the final linocut print. It enables me to distil the landscape down into simple lines.
A short introduction about how I work. Video by BeetrootBox.
From the beginning
I’ve always loved making things and being creative. My favourite phrase was, and still is “I could make that”. If I don’t know how to, I’ll certainly have a go.
Sewing, crafts and baking were my biggest interests. In my early teens, I made soft toys that I would sell to a local gift shop in my home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. I still have the costing and sales book I kept track of it all in! An early entrepreneur in the making!! I went on to make all my own clothes.
At school, my strongest subjects had been maths, sewing, art and the sciences. I didn’t have a particular ‘I want to be something' when I grew up. I just knew I liked making things.
I graduated from Solent University, Southampton 1991 with an HND in Fashion Design. I have been lucky enough to be working as a designer ever since.
From 1991 to 2005 I worked my way up the career ladder in fashion, textile design and homeware. Designing for high street retailers such as The Arcadia Group, Freeman’s catalogue and Disney. You may well own something designed by me already!
In search of more meaning
In 2005 I quit my job to go backpacking around South East Asia for a year. I spent four months in Cambodia volunteering for a Fair Trade gift company.
Moving to York - a happy accident
On my return, I looked for a job in fair trade. Moving to York to be Head of Design for Shared Earth, developing homeware and gifting ranges.
Not everything goes to plan
Redundancy struck and after a maternity cover role as a graphic designer, I moved on to be the Design Manager for the Cook and Dine range at George Home.
Sowing the seeds of change
My 4th redundancy in January 2016 was the opportunity, be it a scary one, to make a big lifestyle change. So with one big shove, off I went. This was the beginning of my journey into self-employment. I started my own business in June 2016.
Following my dreams - A tale of two halves
Initially, I set my business up purely as a graphic designer, offering design support to local businesses. That made sense and in time would pay the bills. I had no intention of becoming an artist. I’d always seen making crafts and art as a hobby. After all, it’s very hard to make a living from it.
By 2020 my focus shifted to printmaking while continuing graphic design work if it fitted into my style.
As well as selling my linocut prints through galleries, print fairs, open studios and my online shop, I also run linocut workshops in my studio. I’ve also created illustration commissions for marketing and books.
Adapting during the pandemic
Overnight everything came to a standstill. Events, exhibitions and workshops were cancelled or postponed and graphic design work dried up. I had to adapt quickly. After taking a Design Trust course to learn how to teach online, I launched my first online linocut course in July 2020, followed by my multi-block linocut course in May 2021.
My next leap of faith has been to make my living purely as a professional printmaker.
Read the full story in these two blogs:
My creative journey as an artist and designer - the story so far
Linocut illustrations for the National Trust’s Sutton Hoo and book publishers.
Graphic design for Waves and Wild, Old Forge York, Bumble Wrap, O'Crumbs Bakes, Choice Therapy York, Hawthorn Printmaking Supplies, Glamoraks and Nutrition in York to name but a few.
Want to work together?
If you're interested in commissioning or collaborating on an illustration project, then I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
My brief history and CV
1971 Born in Coventry and grew up in Stratford Upon Avon.
1987 - 1991 ND design and HND in Fashion Design.
1991 Moved to London.
1991 - 2003 Fashion and textile design for The Arcadia Group, Freemans Plc, River Island.
2003 - 2005 Pan European Creative Manager for Disney Home Europe.
2005 - 2006 Career break, travelling and volunteering. Product development for Rajana Crafts, Cambodia.
2006 Moved to York.
2006 - 2009 Design Manager for Fair Trade homeware and gift at Shared Earth, York.
2009 - 2011 Graphic Design for Room for Design.
2011 - 2016 Design Manager for the cook and dine range at George Home, Asda.
2016 Started my own business, Michelle Hughes Design.
My Interests and hobbies
I love crafts, cycling, walking, yoga, gardening, cooking, photography, up-cycling, nature, travel and adventures. Read more about my walking and cycling trips under the inspiration category in my blog.