William Laing

About the Artist

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1944, William Laing immigrated to Canada in 1960. He recalls being exposed to art as a child, and developed a fascination for movies that continues to inform his work.

Laing received his undergraduate education at the Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design), in Vancouver, British Columbia. He then studied  printmakingA print is a shape or mark made from a block or plate or other object that is covered with wet colour (usually ink) and then pressed onto a flat surface, such as paper or textile. Most prints can be produced over and over again by re-inking the printing block or plate. Printmaking can be done in many ways, including using an engraved block or stone, transfer paper, or a film negative. The making of fine prints is generally included in the graphic arts, while the work of artists whose designs are made to satisfy the needs of more commercial clients are included in graphic design. (Artlex.com)  at Brighton Polytechnic in England before receiving his Master of Fine Arts from the Royal College of Art in London, England. 

From 1974 to 1977 Laing was an instructor in printmaking, photography and  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary. In 1977 he became a full Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary, where he currently is the head of the printmaking department.

A 1998  retrospectiveAn exhibition of work by a senior artist representing all the stages of the artist’s career.  of Laing’s work described it as combining “…a highly innovative use of materials with an exploration of  symbolicAn image that stands for something else to convey meaning and information in an art work.  imagery. He works with photography, etching, silkscreen and  assemblageCombining many objects and materials into a sculptural form.  – combining and re-ordering favoured images from one  mediumAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  to another. Longing, absence and the influence of memory play an important role in Laing’s work as does a desire for reflection and contemplation.” (unknown author, 1998)

The artist profile at one of the galleries that represents his work states that: "Bill Laing’s meticulous paintings and prints deal with textures and patterns found in landscape and in the domestic environments. His current work incorporates historical lace designs, elements from nature and European landscapes. These works are lush and captivating as layers of visual elements seemingly hover over each other in translucent and iridescent glazes." (Herringer Kiss Gallery)

Laing enjoys working in different forms of expression, and for him, each art form feeds off the other. His two main activities, printmaking and photography, demand meticulous care.  He says. “You can’t be sloppy with printmaking or photography.  Those disciplines require that you pay attention to the details.” (personal correspondence)

Laing enjoys teaching young people, finding it rewarding and that it feeds his own work. He had great teachers when he was a young student, he says, and he wants to pass what he’s learned along to the next generation of artists.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning