Thursday, 31 January 2013

Paul Snoswell

Paul Snoswell, print buyer at BP (British Petroleum) for over 22 years, sadly passed away last week, aged 77. I was privileged to have known Paul both as a family friend and professionally and in many ways, he was instrumental in me starting a career in the paper and print industry.

You may well be wondering why I am writing about this person who most of you will never of heard of. Firstly he was a huge personality in the printing industry from years gone by and he deserves to be remembered. Secondly, the very position of "print buyer" has largely been forgotten but is one that in a now bygone era of design and print was paramount . It should be remembered that in the pre-digital age, print was the foremost communications medium and therefore, it's production and distribution, especially to a global organisation like BP, was incredibly important.

Having trained as a Stereotyper (hot metal, lead platemaking) Paul then served in the RAF for his National Service. After a short stint as a sales rep, he was approached by one of his advertising clients - the advertising agency Mather & Crowther (now Ogilvy & Mather) and joined them as a production executive. He later joined Thomas Cook as a print buyer and after six years moved to BP as assistant print buyer. Four years later, when his boss Denis Peacock moved on, Paul became print buyer for the whole of BP.

Although in overall charge of the company's print output, due to the shear enormity of the organisation (over 300 subsiduaries across the world), Paul acted as a print buying trouble-shooter for many of the departments based at Britannia House (BP's headquarters) and other companies in the BP empire around the world. The two largest publications that were produced were the Annual Report, the print run being a massive 450,000 copies in 1986 (!) and the Statistical Review. In 1986/7 the annual report was designed by Lock Pettersen (now Tor Pettersen) and the Stastistical Review by Ron Ward Design.

British Petroleum Interim Report
The position of "Print Buyer" was an exceptionally responsible one and certainly in the context of a large organisation such as BP, print buyer was a management position with real gravitas with access to all the senior executives, including the Company Secretary, Chairman etc. Also, large companies which spent millions of pounds on print needed to have a manager to take financial responsibility for a considerable outgoing. The role of print buyer is now largely defunct, certainly in large corporations, reasons are many and varied. Print is now a less important medium, the overall quality of colour reproduction is now much more achievable by the most basic printer. Outsourcing of design and communications has resulted in print being "bundled up" as a package with responsibility being assumed by the design or marketing agency and at a time when all organisations are trying to reduce head count, corporations cannot justify what is now seen as the luxury of having someone oversee the printed output - a job that was once regarded as essential.
BP printed literature in colour

Having retired in 1987, it is unlikely that many people active in print and design will remember Paul or the many print companies that he worked with (sadly, most of which are now defunct) such as Metcalfe Cooper, Libra Press, Dixmotive Press, Hunterprint, Stukeley Press, Tanbryn Litho, RR Donnelley et al. A measure of the importance of print buyers is that when Paul retired in May 1987, there was a two page article about his career in the trade magazine "Print Buyer" (yes, there really was a magazine published with that title!)
Print Buyer Magazine May 1987
Thanks Paul. You will be fondly remembered by those that knew you.
Posted by Justin Hobson 3.01.2013

Monday, 28 January 2013


Hold onto your hats! ...this is simply my favourite job from last year - I've been keeping it up my sleeve, so I can write about it at length, so here goes...
This piece of printed literature is an LP sized brochure in a record sleeve, produced for UK based radio station Jazz FM and is a promotional piece of print, aimed at potential advertisers and clients. The mono photography, many from the 1950's by Bob Willoughby and Wiliam Ellis, is beautifully combined with printed metallics (gold & silver) with dense black and surprisingly vivid flat colours.
Brochure (r/h) sliding into sleeve (l/h)

Front cover of brochure

Feast your eyes on the spreads below and then you can read all about it....
The brochure is 305mm square, saddle stitched with a 4pp cover on Omnia 200gsm and a 36pp text on Marazion Ultra 90gsm. The 313mm square sleeve is printed on our Mandricote Cream Back [1 sided] 300gsm. All these materials just work together beautifully. The Mandricote has exactly the right feel for the sleeve (and is a similar material to what would have been used for sleeves, back in the day!) and prints the metallic gold superbly. The whole brochure relies on a lightweight feel to be saddle stitched, maintain the right flow and to slip easily into the sleeve and this is where the Omnia 200gsm cover and lightweight text on 90gsm just works. Printed in CMYK, offset litho, plus special gold and silver.

Design and art direction is by Matt Willey. Described as "sumptuous" by John L. Waters, editor of Eye magazine, who also explains that the two main display typefaces are Engravers and Timmons, a display font drawn by Willey himself (and named after jazz pianist Bobby Timmons).

The superb print, production and finishing was handled by John McCormick at printers DG3 Europe, who are a global company with offices in most corners of the world, although this project was handled by the London office.

So why's it my favorite piece from 2012? Few designers (these days) get the opportunity to work with the record sleeve format which was once a pre-eminent format in "popular design" Design for vinyl singles and LP's was a large part of the graphics industry from the 1940's up to 1990's providing a visual narrative of the time but has sadly all but disappeared. By selecting this format, combined with superb art direction and typography, Matt has created a truly stunning piece of literature.

...and if an accolade from me wasn't enough (just kidding) it's been selected by the judges to receive the  “Certificate of Typographic Excellence” by the Type Directors Club, and will also be shown at the 59th Awards Exhibition in New York. Recognition, well deserved.
Posted by Justin Hobson 28.01.2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

...from paper to data!

Below is a picture of a paper mill or rather, it's a picture of what was once a paper mill.
In what seems like a strange twist of fate with a healthy dollop of irony, Google acquired Stora Enso’s Summa paper mill in Hamina, Finland, in 2009. The paper mill which used to produce 350,000 tonnes of newsprint and magazine paper, had suffered persistent losses and with a downturn in demand, the  long-term profitability prospects were poor.
Using the pre-existing infrastructure of the mill, Google bought the site to estabish a state of the art data center. The large site sits on the beautiful Baltic Sea and is able to use untreated sea water, piped through a pre-existing tunnel, to cool the servers naturally. This natural cooling, together with large volumes of cheap electricity and green energy sources makes this former paper mill an ideal place to convert into a server farm.
With the paper machines removed, rows upon rows of servers - data is the product now.
Last summer, Google announced Phase II with a further €150 million investment. This will involve the restoration and conversion of an Alvar Aalto-designed machine hall. Interestingly, Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is the Finish born architect and designer who ranks alongside Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright in the modernist movement, so an important piece of Architectural history is also being preserved.

So what can we make of this? Well one thing it highlights is that just because something appears on the internet, it doesn't mean that there is no cost and no impact on the environment.

Ironically Google have just launched a "Go Paperless" campaign in 2013:
and perhaps unsurprisingly, there's been a bit of an anti Google backlash:

So if you have a client that says "Oh, I'll put it on my website because it saves paper and that's better for the environment" maybe get them to think again and look at these articles.
Posted by Justin Hobson 24.01.2013

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Duchamp SS|2012

Duchamp is a curiously British brand, tracing it's roots back to the late 80's as a luxury goods business concentrating on mens accessories. The founder named the company after the French surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp and the company is now owned and run by former Mulberry executive, Marc Psarolis.
The Spring Summer 2012 lookbook is designed and produced by London based creative agency, Exposure. The size of the book is 232x170mm, portrait, perfect bound. The 44pp text is printed on our Omnia 150gsm and works brilliantly with the, light, bright and beautifully detailed photography - a lovely piece of printing. The 4pp cover is on a black board (of unknown origin!) and is hot foil blocked in gloss black foil.
Alison Psarolis is Design Director at Duchamp. Art Direction and design is by Exposure. Print and print production is by Chapter Press.
Posted by Justin Hobson 22.01.2013

Friday, 18 January 2013

...there's snow business, like paper merchanting!

It seems like we've again hit one of the challenges that the weather in this country occasionally throws us. Snow fall has again been pretty heavy and our vehicles have taken a little digging out of the snow.

As I've mentioned on this blog before, paper is extremely heavy and needs moving around and I guess many people reading this blog may think about samples, dummies and the nice examples of finished work but the paper still has to be moved around by heavy duty vehicles. Anyway, I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that we haven't missed any of our deliveries or let anybody down (...yet!)
Posted by Justin Hobson 18.01.2013

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Nordic Bakery on Colorset

Nordic Bakery is a Scandinavian-style café founded in London in 2007. There are now three beautifully designed cafés around London in New Cavendish Street, Dorset Street and Golden Square. Offering simple Nordic bakery products in a peaceful, simple, well designed environment the shops have gained a reputation and following. Aside from the food, the Nordic Bakery pays attention to all aspects of design. As their website states: "We have selected timeless and authentic design pieces for serving our food and drink. The tableware and furniture are designed by iconic Nordic designers, such as Kaj Franck, Alvar Aalto and Ilmari Tapiovaara".

They've produced three A2 prints on our Colorset 100% Recycled 270gsm, one for each café. Dorset Street is on Tuscan Brown, New Cavendish Street on Crimson and Golden Square on Indigo.

Here they are, fresh out of the packet...
The superbly simple design is by Supergroup Studios, based in Helsinki and London. Creative directors are Jaakko Tuomivaara and Roy Haapakoski. They have worked with Nordic Bakery since the beginning and have developed their brand in all areas, including packaging for their retail products.

The prints are silkscreen printed in two colours by Dan Holliday at The Mangle Press (apparently known locally as "Dan the Mangle"!)
Posted by Justin Hobson 16.01.2013

Monday, 14 January 2013

13 ...unlucky for some!

Today, I received a superb 2013 new year mailing from Magpie Studio concerning the number 13, which as we all know is unlucky for some - that is, unless you touch some wood! So the guys at Magpie have thoughtfully sent out a piece of wood, so you always have a piece to hand...
Size is 250x115mm and is 7mm thick. Although I can't tell the exact type of wood, it has a lovely grain. Silkscreened in one colour.
Click on image to enlarge
Clever idea and well executed - it was even delivered on the closest date to January 13th (which sadly was a Sunday this year - now that really was unlucky!)

Thanks to all at Magpie for thinking about me and my superstitious well-being in 2013.

Posted by Justin Hobson 14.01.2013

Friday, 11 January 2013

Edward Green Shoes

Edward Green is a men's shoemakers founded in 1890, when Mr. Green began to make hand-crafted shoes for gentlemen in the traditional shoe making area of Northampton. The company has passed through several owners but remains owned and run by an individual, Hilary Freeman. The shoes are still craftsmen made, in Northampton using the finsest quality calf and each pair of shoes takes several weeks to make!

This is the range brochure which shows the wide range of styles available and is used for promotion to both customers and press.  The size is 155x118mm, portrait and is "singer sewn" in a green thread which matches the Edward Green brand colour. The cover is unprinted, displaying only a beautiful de-boss logo on the front (click on pics to enlarge). It has a 44pp text printed on our Marazion Ultra 135gsm which reproduces the shoes and the detail in the leather, beautifully, whilst still having a matt, tactile feel which relects the tactile nature of the calfskin. Printed in 4 colour process plus PMS 3275C.
This brochure was designed in-house by the Edward Green creative team. Print was handled by Rob Squires at Pureprint, and thanks to Rob for the file copies and the kind note.
Posted by Justin Hobson 11.01.2013