Thursday, 31 March 2011

Rowley Atterbury - Printer

© Granville Davies
Rowley Atterbury, founder of the Westerham Press, has died this week aged 90.

I was fortunate to have met Rowley a few times at the start of my career in the paper/printing industry and I enjoyed our meetings and still have a letter he wrote me (about "bottom liners" ... he derided printers that sold too cheaply)

Many of you reading this may be wondering why I am writing about this person who many of you will never of heard of. Quite simply, he was one of the most important people in printing, design and typography in the last sixty years.

Rowley Atterbury served in the RAF in WWII and after a short stint at publisher Faber & Faber, he set up the Westerham Press in 1950. I remember him telling me that he set up in the building that had been the old sergeants mess at Biggin Hill aerodrome (but I may have got that wrong).

Beatrice Ward 1932
Rowley was passionate about printing and of course back in those days printing meant letterpress which was hot metal and therefore print and type (and design) were much more closely linked. He was an advocate of quality and worked and corresponded with the outstanding designers and typographic designers of the time including Beatrice Warde, David Kindersley, Robert Harling, Ruari McLean, Jan Tschihold name but a few.

In those far off days of the 1950's, Letterpress printing was virtually the only print processes and the way in which all books, newspapers or any other kind of print could be put together. The transition to electronic type generation was complicated and, at the outset, very difficult. It came about not least because of Rowley Atterbury's pioneering attitude.

He became involved with a US based company called Rocappi (Research on Computer Applications to the Printing and Publishing Industries) Inc. which was researching into computerised data processing. Rowley Atterbury was a director of Rocappi along with mathematician Colin Barber and through the British Printing Corporation (BPC) they developed computer generated tape which was the first step on the road to automated typesetting and data processing.
An exhibition catalogue for the Goldsmiths' Company in 1965 was the first publication set using the Rocappi system ...the computer-generated tape making it possible to output three columns of type simultaneously without intervention of human hand (as opposed to one column by hand).

In 1965 Westerham Press moved into a state of the art, purpose-built factory in Westerham. There's a chapter in Rowley's book "A good idea at the time?" about the design of the factory being formulated around three core requirements:

  • An office to organise and control the output of the factory
  • An air-conditioned unit in which computers, cameras, scanners and filmsetting devices could operation in suitable conditions
  • A large open-plan machine shop, tall enough for a web offset press with a gas dryer, for the process of printing on paper and finishing the work with various binding production lines. This area to be air-conditioned and humidity-controlled.
Each of these three areas to be independent and capable of development and expansion as techniques changed, without affecting the other two units. How many printing companies would formulate such a grand plan today?
It was not until the late 1960s, when the price of lead became very high, that letterpress printing became obsolescent  and Westerham Press invested heavily in offset litho ( a factory designed for letterpress printing but with the versatility to change over to Litho)

He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)  and in 1984 he was awarded the Bicentenary Medal, which over the years has also been awarded to such luminaries as Terence Conran, Wally Olins, Deyan Sudjic, Christopher Frayling, John Sorrell et al. This alone gives some indication as to just how important to our industry he was. He was also a member and one-time president of the Double Crown club and was involved in a huge number of bodies and organisations in the design and printing industry. He wrote Ruari McLean's obituary that appeared in The Guardian in 2006.

Westerham Press was acquired by the financial printing group Burrups in the 1980's (I think?) and subsequently absorbed into the St Ives group and still exists as it's own entity within the group. Rowley Atterbury stayed active in print in the 1990's with the Letterpress equipment that he kept along with his son Francis Atterbury. Francis continues the family tradition, running the Hurtwood Press who are consultants in fine art printing.
He was a goliath in our once great printing industry. He will be sadly missed.
Posted by Justin Hobson 31.03.2011

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Egypt Revealed

Here's a particularly lovely publication produced for the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The Ashmolean has the distinction of being Britain's first public museum and is home to the University of Oxford's collection of Art and Archeology. This piece of literature is to showcase the forthcoming Egyptian galleries.
It is a A4 portrait, saddle stitched, job with a 4pp cover and 20pp text. Although in many ways this is a conventional format (A4 portrait), the simply executed cover is a real feature of the piece. Printed on our Colorset Ash 270gsm in just single colour (monotone) black and hot foil blocked with a matt white foil. Simplicity itself but it really sets the tone of the publication. The text is printed CMYK on a standard coated 150gsm silk.

Design is by London based design company William Joseph and the creative director on the project is Stéphane Harrison.
Posted by Justin Hobson 30.03.2011

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Amanda Wakeley SS11 - Invitation

This is the invitation for the Amanda Wakeley SS11 show at London Fashion Week. The invitation folds out showing thumbnails of the clothing combined with African inspired imagery.

The size is 570x410mm folding down to 95x210mm and is printed just one side on Offenbach Bible 60gsm.
Full size image below:
Yet another excellent example that demonstrates the versatlity of Offenbach Bible. A lightweight material that prints superbly well and if well folded can make an invitation a thing of quality and great interest and still fold down to fit in a DL envelope and go in the post for 25 pence!

Design is by Sticky Creation and lead designer on the project was Tom Roberts. Print is by Gavin Martin.
Posted by Justin Hobson 29.03.2011

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Oxford Thinking

Here's yet another one of the pieces shortlisted  for the DesignWeek awards the other week. Designed by NB:Studio in collaboration with Michael Wolff, this piece of literature relaunched the University of Oxford's fundraising campaign report. In the Designweek awards brochure the job was described as "a fresh, modest and quirky editorial style captures the spirit of the university - with the report raising £250,000 in the first two weeks alone"
Size is A4 portrait (you don't often see that on this blog!), endorsement folded to A5. It is a 12pp self cover printed on Redeem 100% Recycled 70gsm which gives it a light newspapery feel, but as you can see from the images below, it has really worked well with the photography.  
The centre 4pp which deals with the money aspect of the publication has been printed with an overall solid "wash" of a Financial Times pink colour and features as more of a supplement.
Sadly it's didn't win the category it was shortlisted for (direct mail) but happily for NB, they won the award anyway for another job they did! (called: This Year 2010)  However it wasn't on our paper, so I'm not going to write about it! haha!

Design is by NB:Studio and Michael Wolff
Print is by Gavin Martin
Posted by Justin Hobson 24.03.2011

Monday, 21 March 2011

Japanese Earthquake Charity Poster sold out!

Some of you may have read my piece last week about the tradegy in Japan and the feeling of utter helplesness that we are all experiencing. I also mentioned that I had been approached by Daniel Freytag at Studio Berg in Edinburgh, to be involved with a poster project to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross. Well I'm not only pleased to be able to show you the finished result but also to report that the edition of 100 has already sold out raising £4500! great stuff Daniel.

Here's the print in all it's glory:
Silkscreened in 2 colours on Matrisse 200gsm by MLG Marketing Solutions in Glasgow.
Posted by Justin Hobson 20.03.2011

Friday, 18 March 2011

Adidas Women Techfit SS11

This is an interesting and different piece which uses unusual materials and format. This lookbook was the result of an interesting project where their new generation of TechFit (TM) garments were developed with female athletes but also teamed up with the Staatsballet in Berlin, who have been testing this apparel since 2009 and that formed the focus and subject for this new lookbook. 
In keeping with the lightweight nature of the actual garments, the material chosen for the 36pp text is our lightweight Offenbach Bible 60gsm. Interestingly the piece is a self cover but it has a 6pp insert printed in litho silver on black board, saddle stitched in the middle which protrudes 20mm at the top (with the title) - see right and below - and which holds a disc - interesting stuff, actually having the cover, effectively in the middle not on the outside!

Design is by Made Thought and photography by Ben Ingham.
Print was handled by Team Impression and they have made a lovely job of it, right down to the black wire on the saddle stitches - very nice.
...and thank you to Simon Bucktrout at Team for sending me a copy.

Posted by Justin Hobson 18.03.2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

It's Nice That #5

It's Nice That has rung the changes with some changes in format and materials and is available to buy right now!
The fifth issue, appropriately named It's Nice That Issue #5 (!) has changed quite a bit with the introduction of a gloss coated section and white uncoated section (not supplied by us) together with the Redeem 100% Recycled 100gsm used on the previous editions. Sadly the cover is provided by that other paper company ( know, the one based in Hull) with a Buckram emboss - but hey, we can't have it all at Fenner Paper!

This 128pp (advertising free) issue includes interviews with Erwin Wurm, Matt Pyke, Isabella Rozendaal, Wilford Barrington and Rob Ryan, as well as various features and work pieces.

It is now available to buy online for £10 and you still have the chance to sign up for a 12-month subscription, which means you also get an exclusive screen print by Letman. Print is by Push. (

So there you go, not entirely a Fenner Paper piece but there's still a nice flavour!

Posted by Justin Hobson 17.03.2011

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wrangler Bluebell SS11

This is the latest collection from Wrangler's premium men's line - Blue Bell. As you might expect from their top range, this piece of literature is produced to the very highest standard with superb art direction, photography and print reproduction.
This lookbook is A3 format size and has a 36pp text which is singer sewn along the spine with white thread. Now (unfortunately) we didn't supply the blue cover board - (it's that oh so predictable colour range from a well known paper merchant based in Hull ...guess who that is?!!!!) which is silkscreened in red and white. The 36pp text is printed on our Omnia 150gsm which gives it that dead matt, tactile feel but with great reproduction.

Art Direction, design and production is by Studio Thomson. The piece has a fantastic feel - solid flat areas of colour work amazingly well - it is difficult for me to say too much more about it - see the images below, they speak for the job...
...and here we go for a bit of a plug!  - As you can see from the above images above, there is lots of colour and images with CMYK dark areas - loads of ink going down and it looks great on the Omnia, reproducing bright vibrant colours as well and the dark mono images as well, whilst retaining detail in the dark areas (in my opinion- but I would say that wouldn't I?)
Below: a close up of the singer sewing on the cover.
The art direction is by Mark and Chris Thomson and the quality of the direction and photography (by Petrovsky & Ramone at Eric Elenblass Agency) is matched by the exceptional printing (and finishing) by Push.
Posted by Justin Hobson 15.03.2011

Monday, 14 March 2011

Japanese Earthquake 2011

I'm sure that everyone has seen pictures and footage of the terrible earthquake that occurred in Japan, the subsequent tsunami that caused devastation across much of the country's northeastern seaboard and the continuing problems controlling the country's nuclear reactors. Thousands of lives have been lost, it is a terrible tradegy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people who have been suffered and who will continue to be affected in the coming months and years.

It is especially hard when such a disaster befalls a country which is so wealthy and advanced. There is little that we can do except watch and wait. I have sent messages of support to the Japanese companies that we deal with, to at least demonstrate some solidarity. If you have contacts in Japan, I suggest you do the same, it's not much but shows we are thinking.

Unlike the UK, Japan is still a major paper manufacturing nation and this disaster has and will severely affect the industry. Below is a short summary of just how badly their industry has been affected:
  • The enormous flagship Mitsubishi Paper Mills' integrated Hachinohe mill produces 585,000 tonnes/yr of kraft pulp, around 849,000 tonnes/yr of printing/writing paper and 59,000 tonnes/yr of solid bleached board, was hit hard by the tsunami. So far no loss of life has been reported but production has stopped there.
  • Nippon Paper Group mill's Ishinomaki, Iwanuma and Nakoso have been offline since the quake. No loss of life reported but production has stopped.
  • The Akita mill, (714,000 tonnes per yr) has stopped production. No information is available yet on damage levels or a possible restart date.
  • Oji Paper's Nikko mill has stopped production after being affected by the earthquake together with four of its converting plants in the northeast.

So I would urge you to get in touch with any graphic designers, clients, contact etc you might know in Japan and at least say that you are thinking of them. Daniel Freytag has got in touch with me and he is producing some silkscreen prints for auction with all proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross.
 Posted by Justin Hobson 14.03.2011

Thursday, 10 March 2011

DesignWeek Awards 2011

This week I went to the Designweek awards held at the Park Lane Hilton in London. I was kindly invited by Phil Le Monde and Mark Cameron from Gavin Martin Colournet to join their table together with Magpie Studios as they were shortlisted for an an award in the packaging category for the new Gavin Martin Colournet proof bags.
It was a fabulous evening - everyone in their glad rags! The ballroom in the Hilton filled with some of the best creatives in the industry together with a lot of people there for a free drink (that includes me!) 
Below is the picture of our merry table - that's me with the bright blue waistcoat!
The evening started full of hope! the Gavin Martin project was shortlisted for packaging and Magpie were also shortlisted in the print design category for The Christmas stamp miniature book for Royal Mail. ...and (quite by chance) I had four projects that I had worked on (all produced on Fenner Paper) shortlisted as well ! (NB Studio - New Blood Posters, The Chase - 26&26 calendar, Hat-Trick - Ebbsfleet Valley Earthworks Brochure, NB Studio - Oxford Thinking) - not bad for a small little paper company like us!

Sadly for my fellow diners, GBH scooped the Packaging category with the phone packaging for Puma but the Gavin Martin Colournet proof bags (pictured right) was commended which is a great accolade.
Any small disappointment was short lived as Magpie then scooped the Print design award with the Christmas stamp miniature book ...and here, pictured below are the three very happy directors of Magpie, Jamie Ellul, Ben Christie and David Azurdia:
...and here's their (very lovely) job: 
The awards were presented swiftly and efficiently by the host Ian Moore and DesignWeek editor, Lynda Relph-Knight. Particularly worthy of note (an perhaps unsurprisingly) was the apple ipad which was awarded joint winner of the Consumer product design category and which also won Best of Show. It was lovely to see Harriet Devoy accepting the awards for Apple. I worked on projects with Harriet when she was at Johnson Banks and The Chase - Apple's gain has been graphic design's loss ...we miss her!

It was a great evening - good company and food and my thanks go to Gavin Martin Colournet for inviting me and Magpie for putting up with me on their table!
Posted by Justin Hobson 10.03.2011

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Editions of 100

"Editions of 100"  is an online gallery/shop curated by Daniel Freytag, creative director of Edinburgh based studio, BERG (

The idea is to make original limited edition design objects available for sale by selected designers, photographers and artists.

They launched on 14 February with work by Andy Altmann (Why Not Associates), Ross Colquhoun (Human Resources), Kelvyn Smith (Mr Smith Letterpress Workshop) and Daniel himself with Greig Anderson (Effektive). Initially they'll be offering screenprints and giclée prints but expanding to letterpress, tees and design objects in the near future. As the name suggests, each work will be hand numbered and strictly limited to 100 editions.
...and the lovely work you see here, is printed on our Matrisse 200gsm.
Posted by Justin Hobson 08.03.2011