Letterpress: Forward thinking

Demonstrations | Marketplace

Friday 19 November 2010

8.45 Registration opens

9.30 Welcome and Introduction


9.45 Dafi Kühne Macbook, lasercutter and letterpress in the 21st century

A Macbook in combination with a lasercutter, woodtype, a platemaker and presses from the 1960s are just some of the tools that Dafi Kühne uses in his day job as a graphic designer and letterpress printmaker. Dafi studied at the Visual Communications Department at Zurich University of the Arts. An Internship with Hatch Showprint in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the oldest still producing letterpress postershops in the States, brought him into contact with print technologies from the 19th century. With his bachelor thesis ‘Woodtype Now!’ Dafi explored the potential of combining digital and lasercutting technologies in the production of printing blocks using very different materials. Such new self-made blocks he uses alongside the old in the designs of posters for music, art and film projects. Dafi will talk a little about the potential he sees in this technology for the future as well as telling us some more about his introduction to the field and the scope of his current work.


10.30 Phil Abel & Nick Gill Metal fever

Renaissance, industrial and digital technologies meet in the computer-controlled Monotype caster at Hand & Eye Letterpress. We’ll be talking about how and why.

Phil Abel started Hand & Eye Letterpress in 1985 with a treadle platen and a passion for good printing. The press was replaced long ago, but the passion remains.

Nick Gill is a writer, composer and musician who bought an Adana to print CD covers. An internship at Hand & Eye drew him ever further into the world of letterpress, and now he runs the caster there.


11.00 Coffee. Marketplace/demonstrations/displays open

11.30 Edwin Pickstone Material world

A look at the work of designer and printer Edwin Pickstone focusing on how the nature of the letterpress process, with all of its innate physical and material restrictions, can provide a fertile ground for both experimental and commissioned design work.

Edwin Pickstone is the Typography Technician and Artist in Residence for the Visual Communications Department at The Glasgow School of Art. In addition to maintaining the school’s sizable caseroom facility and teaching the rudiments of the craft of hand-setting type Edwin is a practicing designer whose aesthetic is rooted in the practicalities of the letterpress equipment with which he works.


12.00 Justin Knopp (Typoretum) Rescued and reborn

Justin Knopp will echo the conference theme of ‘forward thinking’ by recounting how he first encountered letterpress printing and how his involvement with the craft has evolved and intensified over the past two decades. Justin will recount the highs and lows of rescuing letterpress printing equipment and how he has now put these artifacts to good use in his letterpress studio, amidst the current renaissance in interest in letterpress printing.

Justin Knopp is a typographer and letterpress printer running a letterpress studio from his workshop in rural North Essex. A graphic design graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design (1991–94), Justin has been practising the craft of letterpress for the past 18 years and he is also one quarter of the Occasional Print Club.


12.20 Ross Shaw & Jonathan Kielty (JMG) Garage life

This talk is about what happens in our garage. JMG (Mark II) is an unassuming graffitied garage next to a train line in South West London. The garage (previously an oily motorbike store) was given new life as a letterpress design studio in 2008, and is now dedicated to creating playful and experimental typographic illustration and print.

Founders Ross Shaw and Jon Kielty met at Art College in Birmingham aged just 16. They both studied Graphic Design at university in Newcastle (where they first encountered letterpress) and have been building their typographic treasure trove ever since. They now work on letterpress-based design briefs and personal projects in between their day jobs as graphic designers.

www.jmgstudio.co.uk | www.flickr.com/photos/jmgstudio/

12.40 The Occasional Print Club It takes all types: The Occasional Print Club

An outline of the very brief history of The Occasional Print Club, why it came to be and what might happen next. The aim of The Occasional Print Club (or OPC), is simply to print for pleasure. We meet as the name suggests – occasionally – and, although a club, there are no official rules.

Formed in November 2008, the OPC aims to meet a couple of times a year, moving between members’ workshops. Each meeting lasts a single weekend and no brief is set beforehand. Prints make a virtue of the particular workshop we happen to be in, giving each print a unique feel. The OPC has a collective desire to share ideas, skills and knowledge and to harness the creative potential of letterpress. It’s a chance for young designers and printers interested in letterpress to get together, learn from each other and ultimately, to have fun.

The OPC is, at present, Ross Shaw and Jon Kielty of JMG, Justin Knopp of Typoretum and Pat Randle who is Nomad Letterpress.


1.00pm Lunch. Marketplace/demonstrations/displays open

2.30 Alexander Cooper & Rose Gridneff (Workshop) A case for letterpress

An overview of the themes and discussions from the 2010 College Art Association conference session ‘A case for letterpress’ held in Chicago this Spring.

Alexander Cooper and Rose Gridneff are designers working with letterpress who have an interest in contemporary applications of the process. Alex has run the workshop at London College of Communication since 2004 and Rose teaches Graphic Design at the University of Brighton.


2.45 April Sheridan Bringing traditional letterpress material resources into the future

April Sheridan is a Studio Manager at Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Book and Paper Arts. She will be discussing the future of material resources and how the practices we keep and the communities we build can help preserve and inspire future printers.

From the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, the Dale Guild Type Foundry, to websites, and listservs, printing shops and colleges across the States are finding ways to support traditional crafts and contemporary networks in order to engage a new audience of printers and artists.

April Sheridan, MFA 2005, is a letterpress printer who serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Artists’ Books and attempts to make wood type at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in her spare time.


3.30 Sandro Berra (Tipoteca Italiana) Title: The Tipoteca Italiana: a typographical repository of fonts

From the millions of users of digital founts there is a growing number that are becoming increasingly interested in the physical progenitors of these typefaces – there is an urge to touch the ‘real thing’. Of the other users, in the relative short life of the monitor, there has been the need to almost recreate the physical with the introduction of the touch-screen. The Tipoteca Italiana is first and foremost a repository of wood and metal founts – a fund of mainly Italian printing heritage. It is a place where those interested can come to experience the physicality of letterpress printing. It is more than a museum – it is alive! Sandro Berra is the coordinator of the Tipoteca Italiana. He is editor of the book A story of character: ten years of Tipoteca Italiana and is co-editor of the journal Tipoitalia


4.00 Tea. Marketplace/demonstrations/displays open

4.30 Gen Harrison Making a Good Impression

A look at current practice at Robert Smail’s Printing Works, a fully operational letterpress printers which is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. It will outline how the balance of conservation, access and education must ensure that the craft of letterpress printing will survive for future generations to experience and enjoy.

Gen Harrison is the Compositor and Property Manager at Robert Smail’s Printing Works. She became a letterpress vigilante whilst studying graphic design at Chelsea School of Art. She has taught at Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art and contributed to The History of the Book in Scotland.


5.00 Catherine Dixon Still in print: Gráfica Fidalga

This is a talk which will outline not so much a story of forward-thinking in letterpress, but one of survival thinking. The small printshop of Gráfica Fidalga is the last ‘lambe-lambe’ printshop in the super-city of São Paulo, Brazil. ‘Lambe-lambe’ (literally ‘lick-lick’) is a vernacular print tradition once popular for promoting music and spectacle with a rich history of using hand-generated letterforms carved as wooden blocks to print vibrant poster series pasted out on the street.

Now such traditions are in commercial decline Fidalga has had to explore alternative options for ensuring their survival, involving some inspiring collaborations with perhaps unexpected creative partners.

Catherine Dixon is a graphic designer and writer who teaches typography at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London. Current work includes an exploration of contemporary letterpress practice in Brazil, as written about in Matrix nos. 28 & 29.


6.00 Bar opens. Marketplace/demonstrations/displays end


Talks | Marketplace

In addition to talks on the subject of letterpress we aim to demonstrate something of the processes involved throughout the course of the day. Working presses from the St Bride Library collection will be put to use in the generation of a keepsake for all conference delegates. Helen Ingham is familiar with the material collections of St Bride and will be helping to bring these to life, demonstrating hand-setting and printing techniques, explaining what they are doing as they work. A range of tools and work samples will also be on show.

Helen Ingham

Helen Ingham instructs letterpress at London Metropolitan University and Central Saint Martins where she gained an MA in Communication Design in 2005, where most of the body of work was … letterpress! During this time Helen also did an internship at Hatch Showprint, the famous letterpress print shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Her print workshop Hi-Artz Press produces small runs of ephemera from its Luton base whenever Helen isn’t busy with the ‘day job’. Helen also exhibits type and image based posters in art fairs and galleries worldwide, has done editiorial illustration commissions and CD artwork. She describes herself as leadite rather than Luddite!

www.myspace.com/hi_artzpress | www.hi-artz.co.uk

Alex Brooks

Since graduating in 2003 with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Kentucky, Alex Brooks has worked as a waiter, freelance writer, construction worker, teacher, press mechanic, artist and pedi-cab driver. Since 2005 he has been owner and operator of Press 817, a small letterpress print shop and book bindery, where he makes posters, invitations and hand printed and bound special edition books. The print shop contains restored presses and machines that date from 1887 to the 1960’s. In his free time he travels, builds and rides bicycles, makes woodcut prints, gardens and plays bike polo. Alex has moved to the UK on a Fulbright award to study for a MA in book conservation at West Dean College.


Talks | Demonstrations

There will also be an opportunity to see and even buy samples of work at stands featuring our speakers and demonstrators, as well as Piccolo Press, Phil Baines The Caseroom Press, Incline Press and Whittington Press. Charlotte Rivers will be with us with copies of her recently published book Reinventing letterpress available at considerable discount, and with a percentage of the sale price being donated to St Bride Library. In addition we are creating a letterpress ‘marketplace’ where work will be on sale from a number of other studios and letterpress printers, including more copies of the amazing ‘lego letterpress’ prints being run especially for us by New York studio Physical Fiction.

Printing and beyond