Monday, 6 July 2009

Job from the past...

This is a superb piece of literature produced in 2002 by silkscreen printer and "boutique production house" Artomatic.

"ilikeprinting" is the the name of this innovative art/design/publishing project. Essentially it is a series of original screenprints which celebrate the culture of printed graphics and the talents of graphics artists from around the world. The prints were sold, either individually or as a boxed set and this was the accompanying book or literature that was published with the prints.  

The size of the book is 210x148mm, portrait. It has a 4pp cover and 64pp text printed on Optimale Blanc Naturel 250gsm and 140gsm. The 8pp dustjacket is silkscreened one colour on Wibalin book covering paper.

The text is all printed in one colour - and here's the tricksy bit - facsimiles of all the artworks have been litho printed on coated gloss paper and are individually "tipped in" on each right hand page. as you can see...
Electro-luminescent Car Component off/on by GTF
Currency by Tom Hingston & Robert Del Naja
Untitled by KAWS
Radioaktivtat by Mason Wells
There are 29 artworks in total, all exceptionally good - I wish I could show them all here. I can't, so you'll just have to look at the list of participants as reproduced on the outside cover.
8pp dustjacket wraps around the cover like so....
A really interesting (and important) point of note is the binding. Because the pieces were being stuck in to the book it could have created an ugly bulging where the eneveness in the text area would have made it look unsightly. So to get round this problem, they employed a technique called "guard binding" or "binding with a guard" which is the same method used for traditional photo albums: 
As you can see from the pic above, it is "section sewn" but has a "guard", which is a full height but narrow width slip of material interleaved between each of the pages, thereby bulking out the spine. Smart thinking and it maitained the overall excellent appearance of the book.

So who and what were Artomatic? Their roots were as a silkscreen printer founded by Tim Milne in 1982 who then branched out into print and production management specialising in creatively driven projects. In the early 2000's they took a space with a shop front in the trendy Great Sutton Street in Clerkenwell and set up a "print library" with examples of materials, processes and file copies and a gallery space. Design companies signed up (and paid) to become members and in 2001, the figure of signed up members was around 450. There was a real buzz and a great sense of excitement and there was some excellent talent there. Robert Gaddie and Daniel Mason (both of whom I still work with) were both at Artomatic.
Artomatic was definitely ahead of it's time. Heidi Lightfoot (then a director at Trickett & Webb) described their position in the market as "unique" in an article that appeared in DesignWeek in 23.01.2003 and reproduced in Printing World on 10.02.2003. Tim Milne proudly announced that "Artomatic is in a position to bring aspects of such jobs, the same level of understanding that is put into branding aspects. We have something to say to the industry and the world would be a poorer place without us." Sadly, later that year they went bust and ceased trading. The shop closed and some of the library was bought by Gavin Martin for their PrintLounge concept.

Most people will remember Artomatic with great affection (...although not George Fearnley from Longford Press who wrote to Printing World bemoaning the loss of £54,000 when Artomatic went into liquidation!) They genuinely were a very forward thinking organisation with great ideas and a real drive to make print special. It was a shame that they did not survive. The last I heard of Tim was that he moved to New York.
Posted by Justin Hobson 06.07.2009

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