Sunday, 29 July 2012

Adana Print Workshop at St. Bride’s, London.


Acouple of years ago I bought an Adana 8×5 from ebay. With it came a lot of type, trays and other bits and pieces. Mostly as a result of lack of time, it’s been sat in my garage under covers. But part of the reason for my inactivity was my simple lack of basic knowledge—I wasn’t sure how to use it or look after it. So I set about addressing this problem by attending a print workshop held within the fantastic printing room of London’s, St Bride Library, just off Fleet Street. A group of five us from a variety of backgrounds were cheerfully tutored by artist and designer Helen Ingham.

The course was precisely what I needed — it wasn’t a creative course, but a technical one, focusing on the setting and printing of type, along with how the machines are to be maintained.

As a starting point, it was suggested that we set our names and the name of the fount we were using. In my case Perpertua 18 point bold.

The humble Adana printing press.
Case of Perpetua Bold 18pt Bold
Setting type in the compositing stick.

After much fiddling about I managed to set just two lines of type! I then set my type in amongst the furniture and chase. Printing has a rich lexicon of unusual terms.

Once done, it was onto inking the plates with rubber based paints.

As one might expect, the output was hardly amazing, but we had a lot of fun and I felt that I’ve gained a new set of skills to explore printing as a creative hobbyist. My garage and its contents of printing goodies beckons.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Final Word (Gravestone Lettering)

Over the past few years, part of my collection of photos documenting environmental typography has grown to include that of memorials, particularly that of gravestones. It’s an interest not so much born out of any form of morbid fascination, but rather an intrigue that can be traced back to my childhood, when I spent hours playing in my village churchyard in Sussex, where I would often study, and consequently gain familiarity with the many stylised inscriptions and symbols that adorn these markers of life’s passing. For some, it is possible that these often quietly understated grave markers may be the only record of a person’s existence.

Aware of their inevitable disappearance, either through erosion, vandalism or removal, my aim is to simply to document some of these stones before they disappear completely. Given more time I’d like to record many more stones, but for now the selection process is simply; it’s those that catch my eye that get recorded.

Having attempted lettercutting myself*, I can appreciate just how difficult this process is, and many of the stones that I record are not carved particularly well. In some instances it would seem that the stone cutter appears not to possess any understanding of the need for consistency when forming letters. It may be that the carver was largely illiterate or that they simply did not have any great familiarity with the process of cutting letters.

These sometimes crude forms of vernacular lettering are to me interesting curios that can be as unique as a person’s handwriting. Often possessing their own charm and beauty (or lack of), these have an equal significance in terms of their function, and on occasion they can rival any well crafted piece, particularly when one considers the context in which they may have been made.

An example of fairly crude lettercutting from the Isle of Wight. (Note the unusual flourishes on the apexes of the capital A’s)
My own attempt at lettercutting into slate

* The lettercutting course I took was with Helen Mary Skelton in West Sussex.

For those interested in the photographic recording of memorial lettering, the author Alan Bartram published, in 1978, a fascinating record of UK Tombstone Lettering

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

K College Art & Design Summer Shows 2012

As Programme Leader it was a proud moment for me and the students of the HND and BA (Hons) Graphic Design courses at K College (University of Kent), who, after much hard graft put together a great show this year. If not the best to date. The private view was well attended with people packing out the building throughout the evening. The feedback from our examiner, industry professionals—including former students—as well as tutors from other colleges was overwhelmingly positive. The students did well to make the most of what was a very small, grubby space (not of our choosing) and transformed it into something very special.

As well as some of the design positions that our students are going onto, the grades reflect their hard work and professionalism, and from our small cohort of just 13 degree students we had:
3 x 1st Class
5 x 2:1s
5 x 2:2s

Obviously I am somewhat biased, but take a look at some of the work and judge for yourselves. Well done to everyone involved.
The Graduation ceremony can be seen here: