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Shakespeare Week Portraits

James Brown’s William Shakespeare

Who created it?

James Brown


What is it made of?

Lino cut print


Artist Biography

James Brown is an illustrator and designer who works from his own studio in London producing screen prints and linocuts.

James has recently created a book called World of Cities which is published by Walker Books.


About the Picture

“For reference for my portrait I looked at three other portraits of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime or soon after - The Cobbe portrait (around 1610), The Chandos portrait (1600-1610) and the Droeshout portrait (1622). For the typeface and wording on my portrait I took inspiration from the cover design of a book published in 1623; The First Folio. This collection of Shakespeare plays was compiled by Shakespeare’s friends after he died and if they hadn’t done this some of Shakespeare’s plays may have been lost forever. The First Folio is considered to be one of the most influential books published in the English Language!

“I always design on a computer, I draw everything 'by hand' but on a computer. Once I am happy with the finished design I split it into two separate images, each one containing all the information for each colour; in this case two colours. As I am making a print I flip the design to make a mirror image, if I didn’t do this the letters on the finished print would be back to front and the words would read backwards!

“From my computer I print each ‘colour separation’ out onto a piece of paper from my desktop printer, these then get glued onto the lino, acting as guides and showing me which areas of lino to cut away.

“Everything I cut away will not print and all areas left intact will get inked up with a roller and the paper pressed on top in my printing press. The ink will transfer from the lino to the paper giving us our image. The second colour is added to the print by carefully lining up the second lino into the correct place, inking it up with a different colour and printing again. And this process gives us our two colour lino print of Mr William Shakespeare.”