In 1974, John co-foundered Paddington Printshop with Pippa Smith. The printshop worked with organisations in West London to make multicoloured screenprinted posters supporting community-focused campaigns and events.
By making analogous marks upon a surface we are able to explore and reveal our perception and understanding of the world . In an essay (What is Paper) John explores this idea in relation to the papers on which an artist works.
'No artist’s mark is his or hers alone. It is the outcome of a complex game that merges materials and mind. A paper’s surface, rough or smooth, its absorbency, brilliance or weight, seem to possess intentions of their own. Paper, you might reason, is not alive. It cannot reproduce itself. But neither is it inanimate. We make it, and it incorporates our thoughts. It is predisposed to respond to our intentions. Drawing on paper awakens its temperament, and paper breaths life into our gestures. It informs the flow of ink. It catches graphite grains. It freezes ghostly traces, and becomes a palimpsest of stains infused with meaning. We like to think that we are rational, and that paper helps us to clarify our thoughts. By fixing words upon its surface we extract them from the stream of time. By tracing around shadows, we likewise capture forms. Once arrested upon paper, these ideas are open to inspection. We can lay them to one-side, and return to question them. Thus paper facilitates reflection. It allows us to stand-back and rearrange our thoughts. But paper is a multi-layered mirror not a surface. It is enchanting. We bury memories in its folds, and dissolve the boundaries between our real and symbolic self. Take, for example, a photograph of yourself. It is just a piece of paper, Take a pin and stick it through the eyes. Could you do this without wincing, or even without fear?'