A Big Issue reader was so inspired by the work Big Issue vendors do out on the streets every day that she made it a focus of her wood engraving work and scooped a prize for the eye-catching design.
Maggie Storm used the printmaking technique to portray her daughter holding a Big Issue magazine at a railway station while commuters rush by, evoking the loneliness that vendors can face while selling the magazine.
She entered the design into the Society of Wood Engravers’ (SWE) new ‘Print with a Point’ prize which encourages artists to use wood engraving techniques to get across a socio-political theme.
Maggie’s effort scooped the £200 top prize, which will see her work featured on the front of the SWE’s journal and she has donated half of her winnings to homelessness charity Crisis.
“I’ve always been a Big Issue reader and I know it is a common thing that people rush by vendors or avoid them,” said Maggie, who is the Multiples Editor of SWE.
“I think a lot of people don’t realise that it is a “hand up not a hand out” and I think that they don’t realise that vendors have to buy the magazine to sell them. I’m always banging that drum and that’s how the piece came about.
“As part of the technique of wood engraving, I was trying to get across the idea of a static image and moving image, that is technically what it is about. Most wood engraving is very static – it’s mostly landscapes and trees, that sort of thing – so I was trying to get this feeling of movement across as my message.”
If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.
Enthusiast Maggie has created 15 prints of her Big Issue design with some available to buy from the SWE website.
SWE will be celebrating their 100th anniversary next year and Maggie insists that printmaking is having something of a moment with younger generations.
“I only came to wood engraving five or six years ago and it is a big regret to me that I didn’t discover it when I was younger,” she told The Big Issue. “It’s something that people take up in retirement if they are lucky enough to find it. But there has been a huge resurgence in the amount of younger people getting into printmaking as a whole recently so it’s starting to move across the generations.”