Letterpress: Something to say – Part 2


So carrying on from my last post, the first speaker after lunch was the ‘nicest man in Graphic Design’, Anthony Burrill.

I’ve seen Anthony talk at Leeds Print Festival back in January, so knew he was a great speaker and he also gets Brownie points because he replied to my emails back when I did the D&AD brief! ha

He talked about Adams, the print shop in his country retreat village, Rye, and used a great little comparison – when he first discovered the type in Adams (which sells odds and ends and everything) it was like in the Wizard of Oz when things turn from black and white to technicolour! Haha Magical…

Anthony also shared his ever growing collection of google images that he has collected of his work in different scenarios – David Cameron coincidentally next to an adapted version of Anthony’s famous ‘Work hard and be nice to people’ poster haha

Anthony then went on to tell us about some of his more recent work, which I hadn’t seen before. He’s been quite busy collaborating overseas:

Colby printers in LA produce awesome(but trippy) fluoro posters and Anthony worked with them to produce this:

He also spoke about his trip to Sao Paulo, where he met Claudio a local printer and experienced some dangerous campervan driving, thinking: ‘I’m going to die and it’s all because of typography!’ Haha what a great quote!

He worked with Claudio (who spoke to English) to produce this poster:

… which is the only poster they printed as the machine broke! That was bad luck, wasn’t it? It translates into ‘Work hard & be cool with people’.

Whilst in Sao Paulo, Anthony worked with his friends Mesa & Ladeira and a group of young people to produce a series of posters:

This one says ‘Glass Half Empty’ and then at the top in small ‘It is half empty because I drank it’ which I thought was nice (and also appropriate to a poster I was working on at the time).

Anthony finished with his oil & water poster, which if you haven’t seen it, shame on you and you need to watch this video. I love the poster but thought this little sketch from inside Anthony’s sketchbook was interesting and lovely:

Such a great talk! Like I said, Anthony is just such a great guy so I think it’s pretty impossible not to enjoy his talks. But another thing that was lovely – it was actually a special day for Anthony…

Catherine Dixon had made him a birthday cake and we all sang to him – it was a bit surreal if I’m honest ha But not many people would ‘work’ on their birthday, would they!? He said that his wife asked if he wanted to go for lunch and he said he just wanted to go and talk about type. Pure dedication.

So Anthony’s a bit of a hard act to follow, but Dylan Kendle from Tomato was the right man for the challenge. Obviously I’d heard of Tomato, but not of Dylan specifically so it was great to see and learn about his work:

He began with a haiku, which he creates regularly from tabloid newspaper headline cuttings. He used these through out his presentation and I thought they were really, interesting and just reinforced the importance of words in our lives!

I loved this typography created for the Blossom Hill TV adverts for showing in between Dallas. This one says Pinot Grigot:

Such a great visual!

Next he showed us a Japanese music video which Tomato worked on to represent the rain cycle which was really interesting. I recommend you watch it – here

And another Haiku from Dylan:

I think it looks great printed just in white onto a coloured stock – still newspapery but more designery. He then spoke about a 24 hour project which Tomato worked on which included woodblock type and slang words:

I think these are the Caribbean slang for posh & rough. An interesting contrast.

Dylan then spoke about making a numeral typeface from shapes which had some really interesting forms:

Here it is in use on the Nouvelle album artwork, which you can see more of here:

…Black and white with a hint of colour… lovely!

Dylan then talked about his modular typeface, Reduct, which is really interesting because if you don’t like how it’s made, you can make your own version. I guess it’s the lego of the font world?

Dylan finished by showing some AMAZING adverts for BBC Radio 4. I love the Zadie Smith one – definitely a must see:


The next speaker, Gee Vaucher, brought traditonal woodblock type back into focus. She spoke about wooden type being a thing of beauty (agreed!) and how in her work she uses whatever it takes to say what she wants to say.

For her book You can’t see the trees for the wood, she investigated which trees woodblock letters were made from and printed them, making other words from them too. I thought this was a really interesting concept – printing the word ‘Pine tree’ from woodblock type made from Pine wood… it just feels right?

I absolutely loved the style of Gee’s work:

The overprinting of the two colours is just lovely…

… and works really well to highlight certain details e.g. the holly berries here:

I wrote down a lot of quotes from Gee which I found interesting:

‘Printing for me, is anything goes.’

‘The minute you go electronic, you lose control.’

‘Kids are being pushed into an electronic micro chip age.’

‘Take the history we all carry – it’s such important information.’

And my favourite:

‘Letraset seems like cheating.’

She was a great character and a very interesting lady to listen to!

There was a quick tea break before the next speaker, Peter Nencini began…

I found Peter’s experimental approach to creating symbols and letters really interesting. He is a self taught typographer who has exhibited his quirky and unusual work all around the world:

He likes to use items and help them to ‘escape their original use’ to take on another purpose, which I think is a great way of thinking. Below is the typeface Primer, which he produced for a furniture retailer:

Unfortunately as the day had started to run behind schedule, Peter’s talk was cut a bit short but you can see more of his work here.

The next set of speakers were a mixture of students and tutors who had collaborated to explore ‘letter press in education’ and produce a travelling exhibition called 6×6.

I had already heard a bit about this project, as Lincoln was one of the Universities involved in the project (alongside Brighton, Camberwell, LCC, CSM and Glasgow) but was interested to see the outcomes produced:

The project asked the Universities to look at the process of letterpress and communicate what is special about it and why it is important to have access to traditional letterpress as well as modern day digital technology.

Typically, when it was Lincoln’s turn to speak, my camera started running out of battery so I wasn’t able to photograph everything! None of the students involved were able to attend, so a statement from Barrie and Philippa was read out whilst showing the posters:

From this point on my camera was pretty much dead, but luckily I managed to squeeze 2 last photos out of it during CSM tutor and host, Catherine Dixon‘s talk.She spoke about her trip to Brazil, where she connected with people in the Favelas (slums) and her experience of seeing young people using print to make their lives better.

She showed images from a class of young boys who have produced a book of striking, simple imagery and type.

It was an emotional story which I think tugged on everyone in the rooms heart strings, but just makes you realise how letterpress, typography and graphic design can really change peoples lives.

It was long, but SUCH a great day. Jack & I left feeling truly inspired by everyone that had spoken, so thanks to all speakers and organisers! If you’re reading this and you didn’t attend this event – you missed out and you need to go to the next talk at St Brides!

I mentioned in the part 1 that at lunchtime we were able to pick up some free bits and that I’m going to do a separate post on them; that will be the final instalment in the Letterpress: Something to say series of posts – so look out for that…

Leave a Reply

© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

%d bloggers like this: