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One activity I have adopted as part of my regular professional development activities is letterpress printing. I have a print workshop next door to my design studio (A) in the obviously named: Studio B. It doesn’t take much of an excuse for me to spend a day away from the computer immersed in type.
Letterpress printing is a physical process, although definitively linked to the principles of typography and graphic design, it’s feels a million miles apart. Contemporary graphic design in primarily carried out adjacent to a computer screen – mentally active but physically quite static.
Each stage of letterpress printing needs careful consideration, as to alter it is time consuming and (for some, but not me) laborious. Electing to change a typeface or increase the type size mid-way through a composition results in the complete work needing to be taken apart. This even includes the spaces between the words! A very different experience in terms of effort and time to the simple ‘two click’ operation when using a computer.
Printing anything by hand takes time. Early attempts are messy – the ink gets everywhere, so you have to wash your hands regularly during the process – unless you want inky fingerprints on every page. Once a day’s printing is complete, there follows a sort of comfortable tiredness – a positive bi-product of this physical and mindful process.
Above – examples of my letterpress work
My work is currently on display in Ireland (Dublin – Print Museum), America (Hamilton Type Museum – Wisconsin) and held in the V&A permanent collection.
From time to time Studio B is commissioned for commercial projects. Currently I am making work in response to the Letterpress Workers Summit invitation which I will be attending at the end of June 2019.
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© Carl Middleton – 2019
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