Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My visit to...

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit one of the few remaining hot metal 'trade' typesetters that services the letterpress community. Based just outside Brighton, The Elrod Press was established in 1986 by Andy Taylor who has a wealth of experience as a compositor in Fleet Street, trade typesetters and publishing houses.

Andy has a number of typesetting and letterpress printing machines in his extremely well appointed garden workshop!

Intertype C4
In pride of place is the Intertype typesetter which is based on the Linotype system. The machine sets a whole line of text at a time, called a slug, making for easy handling and page make up. This particular Intertype is one of the last produced, so is equipped with the latest technology and has also been adapted to use US depth matrices meaning they can offer an even wider range of typefaces.

Intertype keyboard
...and here's the legend himself, Mr Andy Taylor, standing next to his Intertype. 
Below is a picture of the Ludlow Typograph, which casts a line of type from hand assembled matrices. A remarkable machine in remarkable condition.
Ludlow Typograph
Drawers of matrices for the Ludlow
..and below is the Elrod strip caster (after which The Elrod Press is named). This caster can manufacture leads, rules and spacing materials in any width from 1pt up to 36pt and any length up to 24 inches and he supplies many small/home letterpress printers with these sundry items as well as type. It's also worth noting that print finishers often don't know where to get spacing material - they often need the 2pt leads but this machine can make them - and do it economically.
Elrod Strip Caster
During my visit to The Elrod Press (yes that's me in the pic), Andy kindly gave me the opportunity to strike the keys and set my own lines of hot-metal on the Intertype, which after many goes, I finally managed to achieve three successful slugs.
One of the most remarkable things about this mechanically sophisticated machine is the way in which, after the casting, the matrices are returned to the channels in the magazine - I took this short video to show how accurately the machine works:

As well as the typesetting machines, The Elrod Press also has a selection of letterpress printing presses and undertakes commissions for customers.
Press hall at The Elrod Press

All in all it was a most enjoyable morning. A great experience and I'm most grateful to Andy for being so generous with his time and the several cups of tea - and for telling me the correct, Fleet Street, derivation of the expression 'winkle bag'!

If you have a need for hot metal typesetting (maybe you have a little Adana hand press?) and require hot metal setting or some sundries such as leads, rules and spacing materials, do get in touch with The Elrod Press.
Posted by Justin Hobson 30.04.2014

Monday, 28 April 2014

Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains

I've just been sent these great pics by Gary Parselle at The Private Press of a new tour poster he's just printed. The band is called François & the Atlas Mountains and they are a Franco-British pop group, combining indie pop, folk pop, and African rhythms ( their website says)
This is the second time that The Private Press has worked for the band, this time the poster is for the UK 2014 spring tour,  in support of the recent album Piano Ombre ..and you can see a video here:
This A4 (210x297mm) size poster is silkscreen printed using an opaque white ink onto our Colorset, Bright Red 270gsm (which is 100% Recycled) and is available to buy exclusively on the tour.
The Private Press is a silkscreen studio based in Brighton run by Gary Parselle and as you can see, he does some really nice stuff!

Posted by Justin Hobson 28.04.2014

Thursday, 24 April 2014

McQ AW13

McQ, is a contemporary brand from Alexander McQueen which takes inspiration from street culture "evoking the varied and ever-evolving style tribes that spring up around Britain’s rich music and art scenes. Drawing on references from uniform and the military, core staples of the British wardrobe are re-imagined each season in new guises. Traditional techniques are used in contemporary ways, creating pieces that are both functional and beautiful"

Creative Director of McQ is Sarah Burton and this is the lookbook produced for the collection last year and is simply an exceptional piece of design and print.
The format is A3, portrait. The whole publication is printed on our Astralux 1 sided 115gsm which is exceptionally high gloss on one side and is uncoated on the reverse. The whole design has played with the opposing coated and uncoated printed and plain areas with dramatic effect. Outer cover is completely unprinted.  
It is a 36pp self cover and is unbound, so each of the 4pp section can easily be removed and viewed as an A2 size poster. The monochrome images are reproduced in four colour process (CMYK) printed Offset Litho
Uncoated page on left and coated on right
The remarkable photography is by Roger Deckker. The superb printing on this paper is by Identity Print. One of the tricky things here is to get the consistency of reproduction between the gloss coated side of the sheet and the uncoated reverse. The result is simply stunning. Gloss sometimes faces gloss, sometimes faces uncoated - it plays with the senses.
Gloss coated spread

Uncoated spread
Design and art direction is by Charlie Thomas at Alexander McQueen.

The printing and production is by Identity Print, based in Paddock Wood in Kent and the print quality and repro, in particular is quite simply superb. Thanks to Kevin Appleton at Identity for getting me some file copies.
Posted by Justin Hobson 24.04.2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Discussing the individual in type design

In addition to the presentation of his new typeface, this is an opportunity to participate in a discussion with Jeremy Tankard who will be sharing his experiences about some of the key issues influencing the contemporary type design field, not least the survival of an individual practice in an increasingly derivative design world.
In conversation with Catherine Dixon, the intention is to open out an initial dialogue to questions from the audience. Jeremy Tankard is a type designer who set up his own foundry in 1997, following early success in the field of corporate and branding design for leading consultancies including Wolff Olins. His typefaces will be familiar to many, with Corbel now a key system font for the Windows OS and Office Suite of applications. Other popular typefaces include Bliss, Aspect, The Shire Types and Enigma. Catherine Dixon is a designer, teacher and a writer with a certain preoccupation for all things typographic.

Tickets can be bought from

...go and feed the grey matter - buy a ticket and get involved! (and half the money is going to Charity, as well!) - says Justin

The event is being held at Regent’s Conference Centre in Regent’s Park, London on Wednesday 14th May 2014 at 7pm.

The evening is being presented by St Bride Foundation 
and the Wynkyn de Worde Society and half of the proceeds from the talk will go towards the Wynkyn de Worde Charitable Trust, which funds bursaries and seminars to assist in the education of those in future generations who will be involved in printing and related activities. Over 150 students have benefited from the Trust in the past year, attending events at the Letter Exchange, the Typographic Circle, the Edward Johnston Foundation and St Bride Foundation.
Posted by Justin Hobson 22.04.2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

My Villages - Newsletter is an international artist initiative, founded in 2003 by Kathrin Böhm (Ger/UK), Wapke Feenstra (NL) and Antje Schiffers (D).

Here's some information about the organisation "Our interest is the rural as a space for and of cultural production. The collective aims of are informed by the contextual nature of our individual practices and the autobiographical fact that we all come from small villages. activities range from small scale informal presentations to long term collaborative research projects, from work in private spaces to public conferences, from exhibitions to publications and from personal questions to public debate"

You can read more about the project here:

This brilliantly executed newsletter is published on the occasion of Myvillages' 10th anniversary in December last year. It is printed on our Offenbach Bible 60gsm, offset litho in two special colours, one colour either side. Size is 594x840mm folding down to A5.
The format is of a poster which is folded down as a concertina and then folded as a gatefold - see pic below:
It is printed in just two colours, one of which is gold. Pantone gold printed offset litho on Offenbach Bible, really does look amazingly metallic as I hope the below picture shows:
Design is by Melanie Mues, who has a studio in East London. Printing is by Push and thanks to Roy Killen for sending me some file copies.
Posted by Justin Hobson 17.04.2014

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

What is ...a Crow's foot?

What is ...Number 4
Regular followers of this blog will know that in the middle of the month, I publish a "What is ....? post. The article covers various aspects of paper, printing and finishing in greater depth. However, many of these subjects are complex, so these posts are only intended to be a brief introduction to the topic.
What is ...a crow's foot (in printing)?

Crow's feet
When the term "crow's foot" is thrown into a print related conversation, it leaves many who haven't been immersed in printing terminology baffled. Most people have heard of the term "crow's feet" applying to those narrow lines around the outside corners of your eyes which becomes more prominent as you grow older (don't worry, I haven't started writing a beauty hints blog!)

In the world of print and print finishing, the term "Crow's foot" refers to the creasing that you can get on a folded sheet which looks rather ugly, as the picture below: 
showing detail

A real crow's foot
Needless to say, the term is derived from the shape and pattern of a Crow's foot, a Crow, unlike some other birds, having a three toes. The problem of this ugly creasing appears to be caused by two factors which can either happen individually or in tandem. Firstly, there is the distortion caused by folding paper on itself and on itself again and again etc. The problem is that paper roughly doubles in size with each fold and this makes it harder to bend and results in the distortion (creases) on the inside sheets.
This effect happens whether paper is folded by hand or by machine. The second factor that causes or more particularly accentuates the "rippling" generally making more creases is mechanical folding. The increase in the creases is caused by air escaping, as it has nowhere to go (-readers familiar with printed sections being folded for binding will know that a rough perforation is made along the fold to allow the air to escape).
So, as you can see, this is clearly a problem - although it is one of those issues which generally rears it's ugly head when you are least expecting it! Many people think by using a lightweight material, such as our Offenbach Bible in 40, 50, 60gsm it will solve the problem - sadly the lighter weight material won't solve the problem on it's own!
How to get round it? - if producing an item which requires folding down, the best thing is to concertina one way and then concertina the other way. This means that the paper is never folded on itself and on itself again. It reduces the stress, prevents distortion and means that you never see a crow's foot! There are many examples of this already on the blog, here's a couple of perfect examples by NB:Studio and Studio8:,
However, I can also show you a perfect example of just how not to do it! This folded down poster is a project for D&AD. Unfortunately there is no design or printer credit, so I can't reveal who was responsible, but it's the perfect example of a great idea but executed with lack of thought and poor production!
A5, portrait in size, reveals this amazing spectacle on the first spread...
close up detail
I'm sure that because of the quantity that would have been printed, the likelihood is that it would have been machine folded as this looks like the creasing that happens when air is trapped. The point is that it could still be machine folded but in a concertina which would have prevented this unsightly effect:
The whole poster: many of my school teachers would have said about me ..."could have done better"!

Posted by Justin Hobson 15.04.2014

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Peter Doig - No Foreign Lands

This is the literature and private view invitation for a major exhibition titled 'No Foreign Lands' devoted to one of Scotland's most internationally-renowned artists working today Peter Doig. Works from the last ten years were shown in this first major exhibition in the country of his birth held at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, last year.  
The invitations are printed on our Omnia 320gsm duplexed to make 640gsm ...and as you can see, beautifully reproduces the detail of the scene in Trinidad. This invitation is a 2pp, portrait, A5 (210x148mm) format and is printed offset litho.
To go with the show, there is a superb 8pp concertina leaflet, size 235x170mm printed on our Omnia 120gsm.
The colour reproduction is strong and vivid and the whole publication has a matt, tactile look and feel which works perfectly with the artwork. 
...for interest, here is a close-up of the duplexed invitation which is around 1mm thick:
The invitation is printed in one colour (blue) on the reverse and the name DOIG is hot foil blocked in matt white foil. Omnia foils beautifully as it has a high bulk and flattens out leaving the foiled type, smooth and slightly de-bossed.
You can read more about the exhibition here:

Design and Art direction is by Freytag Anderson, a Glasgow based studio run by creative partners Daniel Freytag and Greig Anderson.

Printing is by J. Thompson Colour Printers in Glasgow
Posted by Justin Hobson 10.04.2014

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hermès - petit h

Studio Toogood were commissioned by Hermès to launch petit h – a new take on the iconic Hermès brand. The entire ground floor of the flagship Bond Street store was dedicated to a custom-designed Studio Toogood interior including a series of sculptural displays in glossy leather and resin. The widows in the Bond Street showroom displayed scaled up craftsmen's tools in linear neon.

You can read more about the project here:

Part of the project included some graphic materials which were produced in collaboration with freelance designer Tom Watt (Field Projects). The literature includes an invitation and a poster. In accordance with the campaign theme, photograms of the products and the tools used to create them were created which was used as the imagery for the publications.

The poster is A1 size (841x594mm) and printed in CMYK on our Offenbach Bible 60gsm and the result is simply beautiful. The subject combines beautifully with the lightness and slight translucency of the material.
The invitations are A5 portrait (210x148mm) and are printed on our Omnia 320gsm. This has reproduced the richness of the red and black image perfectly.
Below is a picture of the original Photograms made by Tom Watt with photographic printer Brian Dowling.
Creative director at Studio Toogood is Faye Toogood. Tom Watt is a freelance art director (Field Projects). The invitations and posters are printed by Robert Young at R.Young & Son based in Croydon.
Posted by Justin Hobson 08.04.2014