Stu's Critical Printing Blog

by Wolfman

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Print is what I am and what I do. I teach on the Art & Design Foundation course at York College, where I look after the Visual Communication specialist area. My personal interest is in anything printed but type in particular. I make works which are printed and have a healthy obsession for beautiful and innovative printing, commercial or otherwise. I also like photography which is printed on lovely papers and surfaces.

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Falmouth Butterfly

(viewed 2948 times)
Letterpress - and what is more, worn antique wood block type. But it might not be because looking at The Falmouth Butterfly on YouTube -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3ed-S3iJ0A - somebody is wiping off the inked up type before its printed. However, the wood block type that is used looks gorgeous. When I first saw the poster I thought 'Wow they have set a massive chase (the frame into which the type is clamped) and printed it' . Think again. That would be a pretty tall order. The much more sensible thing would be to print the words individually, scan them in and arrange in InDesign. Its a lovely poster though. I can live with the cliched butterfly as a metaphor - I like butterflies - but it is a beautiful piece of printed typography.
17th Jan 2010, 21:32   comments (3)

Train Illustration for Howies

(viewed 5929 times)
This illustration appeared in the summer Howies catalogue. It appears to describe a journey across China by train, is by Sarah A. King and I just love it. Some of her other illustrations are made with the same distinctive approach and the busy, lettering textures can be distracting and troublesome to look at but I rather like this. She has her own website and can also be found at Nobrow, a Shoreditch based illustration and print outfit.
9th Sep 2009, 20:53   | tags:comments (3)

Anthony Burrill Prints

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I saw some Anthony Burrill work in Collette in Paris. It was made of translucent, polished and shaped perspex. The effect was to amplify the effect of his work on paper. It can be difficult to figure out what Burrill is saying in his work. The text pieces are self evident it seems but does the colour, layout, type and choice of copy instill a greater significance to the message? And then his illustrative work - if this is how it can be described - seem to have no particular meaning or purpose at all. So why does it make you feel happy when you look at it? And why does it reach you and speak to you? This is Burrill's skill. He makes the simple, significant even profound.
4th Jul 2009, 22:22   | tags:comments (2)

Text Accompanying The Columbian

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This piece of text, printed out on cheap paper by laser print is firstly an insult to the long and significant history of the printed word and secondly poorly considered and inappropriate. The typeface is Old English. If the press were medieval it might be appropriate but it is neither appropriate nor medieval. Baskerville would have been a good choice since it was in use through the period that the press would have been in use commercially. It terms of typography, Old English is fake calligraphy. It bears little resemblance to Guttenberg's type (which would have been a bad choice anyway) and looks a bit like the gothic faces used in Germany up until the 1930s but it is not as heavy as these. Besides this is printed out two words per line, centred on a Word document so is neither typography or printed matter of any worth. The information contained therein is, however very curious. How did an American press come to be built by an Edinburgh Engineer? Alas, I am going to leave the Columbian now and post some contrasting material.
4th Jul 2009, 21:56   comments (0)

THE Columbian

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Two more photos which show the press at its best. Roger (print room manger) has repainted the eagle so now it looks as it would have. There are two platen type Victorian cast iron presses which are now mostly found in enthusiasts workshops and art schools. The other type is the Albion press. One is not really better than the other but the Columbian has it aesthetically, the British made Albion having a regal crest rather than a looming eagle and having a plainer more functional look to it. There are differences in the lever and counter balance mechanisms but I do not know if I want to talk about them here. It seems that Columbians are rarer though. (Source: Chamberlaine,Walter, 1978, Woodcut Printmaking, Thames & Hudson p142)
26th Jun 2009, 21:12   | tags:comments (1)

The Columbian

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This is a printing press recently acquired by the Printroom at Leeds College of Art. It is called a Columbian, a type of platen press, half a ton of 19th century American cast iron and is, to the unappreciative eye, needlessly decorated. More info soon.
23rd Jun 2009, 22:11   comments (0)

Nate Williams Screenprint

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I have realised that I really should be posting my favourite prints and their makers so the first one is Nate Williams http://www.n8w.com/newweb/index.php. His web site demonstrates how prolific an illustrator he is and how many applications he has for his work. He manages to combine images that are original, make you feel happy when you look at them but also communicate sometimes with subtlety, sometimes more directly but always in a way you may not have seen before. He has a distinctive style but it does not restrict what he can say or how he can say it and his people and animals are charming. His web site is thoroughly recommended. I really need to buy one of his prints.
1st Jun 2009, 11:47   | tags:comments (0)

Berlin Print

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I brought this from a facinating graphics shop called SupaLife Kiosk in Berlin (http://www.supalife.de/) a couple of years ago. It is the ideal souvenir because it reminds me of how brilliant SupaLife Kiosk is and how much I love Berlin. It is a screen print made with a hand drawn positive, the black part would have been monoprinted. The screens for screen printing are made photographically - or rather the stencils are made photographically so a positive is needed (just like a negative in photographic printing) to expose to make the stencils. The mesh itself supports the stencil. The print is signed Fdudda and dated 06. It is not editioned or has any printers marks of any kind but this is reflected in the price which I think was about €45. It depicts the (former) East Berlin skyline, most of the buildings being around Alexander Platz like the TV Tower. It is printed on a greenie brown paper in blue and black and feels quite low fi. But this is why I like it. It does not look or feel like a high quality art print but feels more ephemeral and mass produced - which it definately is not.
28th Apr 2009, 21:07   | tags:comments (1)