Six London book art studios
For those that know us, our printing roots began a generation ago when our MD Francis learned his trade on the shop floor of his father’s printing business Westerham Press. When the business closed in the late eighties the only things saved were the most treasured letterpress typefaces and equipment, and this began a new life as a small commercial letterpress business called ‘The Hand Press’ which closed in the early nineties. This type and machinery still exists all wrapped up in a big yellow box on a trading estate, but in the not too distant future we hope it will work again.
In the meantime for those who occasionally ask us about where to learn the craft trades involved in making our books, or where letterpress can be incorporated in to a project, here are six recommendations, and if you’re stuck for present ideas this Christmas there is nothing more satisfying (and therapeutic) than a course on letterpress printing.
Founded and run by artists Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura, the philosophy of LCBA is one of education and skill sharing. It is a wonderful collaborative environment and runs teaching workshops in printing, book binding and box making, as well as studio passes for those with previous experience to use the space. Currently running letterpress christmas card workshops – an antidote to the usual frantic Christmas madness!
Housing the historic and extensive St Bride’s Library collection of printing, typography and graphic design, the foundation also have an extensive programme of events, and operate as a community resource for the creative industries. Letterpress courses and workshops can be found here and run on a regular basis, although at the time of writing next years dates were not yet published on the website.
Things have gone full circle and letterpress is back at the University of the Arts London. We don’t know much about these courses yet, but they look like a good starting point for anyone interested in finding out more about letterpress. And as a team of UAL alumni we’re keen to endorse the university and it’s training. In fact our MD Francis is so old he was trained in letterpress at the London College of Printing before it became part of the University of the Arts. Browse their courses here
Kelvyn Smith trained as a graphic designer and worked as Alan Kitching’s first assistant for 5 years so his courses have a strong bias towards typography and design as well as print making. Two day intense courses for 4-6 people run from the spring to the autumn and are designed to allow Art Directors, artists, designers, printmakers and students to work closely with wood and metal type, letterpress materials and printing equipment. Kelvyn will also run one day specific workshops for clients and companies that are project related, or to train staff in all things typographic. In addition to all that he also takes commissions and sells lovely typographic prints from his on-line shop. Find out more here
Graphic designers Chrissie and Vicky run this tiny, but beautiful little letterpress business, and the work they do is quirky and fun. You can buy direct from their on-line shop, commission work, or contact them to book a course. Read this great post by our friend Katy at Untold Morsels on her day spent learning letterpress with Harrington Squires, including H&S’s great little film ‘You’ve got hands’.
No blog on letterpress in London could be written without mentioning the Hand & Eye Letterpress which as far is we know it is one of the few remaining completely commercial letterpress printers in the city. It’s owner Phil Abel has run the press since 1985 and specialises in small books, posters and printed ephemera, working with designers, galleries, publishers and creative organisations.