(First published in Crafts magazine, May/June 2017)


The Woodcut: Durer to Now
Pallant House Gallery,
8 March – 25 June 2017
Reviewed by Patrick Myles

­As a graphic designer, the art of the woodcut is in stark contrast to the state-of-the art print that I am involved with today. The traditional cutting tools are a far cry from the 27” ‘high retina’ display iMac computer that I use for my work on a daily basis. But visiting an exhibition like this is a reminder not only the history of the media, but also evoked childhood memories of the first my experiences of print through the linocut (a latter day variant of the woodcut) and the sensation of carving out a shape or pattern with a tiny chisel or gouge into the surface, followed by the ‘magical’ results from transferring ink on lino to paper.

Durer_web‘Repose on the Flight into Egypt’ (c.1504) by Albrecht Durer

Bearing in mind the technique, you can only marvel at the sophistication and intricate detail of the earliest and opening print of the display. ‘Repose on the Flight into Egypt’ (c.1504) by Albrecht Durer is one of a series of woodcuts illustrating the Virgin Mary’s life. In true Renaissance style, it has a story telling narrative coupled with the scientific approach to perspective shown in the beautifully detailed architectural forms in the background.

But by the end of the 16th century, the woodcut became less popular in Europe, due to the advent of engravings. However, in Japan the medium continued to develop. The influence of the mokhunga printing technique led to the ukiyo-e (loosely translated as ‘pictures of a floating world’) movement. This is a period of printmaking that has a distinctive aesthetic that I’ve always admired. So I was delighted to see an original print by Utagawa Hiroshige – the grand master of the genre. ‘Travellers surprised by sudden rain (Shono haku-u)’ (1833-34) is part of his famous series “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road’ (Tokaido gojusan tsugi no uchi). This is a great example of his more poetic work achieved through subtleties of light and colour, and a fine quality of line to illustrate the falling rain.

Hiroshige_web_Travellers_surprised_by_sudden_rain‘Travellers surprised by sudden rain (Shono haku-u)’ (1833-34) by Utagawa Hiroshige

Moving through this small but exquisite exhibition, there are other later examples of European style prints, such as the geometric architectural forms in Edward Wadsworth’s 1949 representation of Lemnos, a village in Greece. However the Japanese theme remains strong in the work of artist Nana Shiomi. With bold use of colour, she creates simple still life compositions using iconography from traditional Japanese woodblock printing. There are two examples taken from her series ‘One Hundred Views of Mitate’, a series of 100 prints that Shiomi began in 1998. Both in ‘Mirror’(2001) and ‘The Great Buddha’ (2011) Shiomi references the woodcut’s traditional function as a means of communicating religious texts.

Shiomi–web‘Mirror’(2001) by Nana Shiomi

British artist Rebecca Salter also studied traditional printmaking in Japan at the Kyoto City University of Arts. But unlike Shiomi’s figurative work, Salter’s printmaking is abstract and closely aligned with her other practice of painting. Using Japanese paper, cherry wood and water based inks she has produced monochromatic works that take on the appearance of delicate fabrics.

2884_Salter‘Untitled’ by Rebecca Salter

Finally Emma Stibbon’s work is the polar opposite to Durer’s original print. She applies a broader drawing style to her large scale prints. Firn (2008) is a series of four dramatic woodcuts recording her response to the physical landscape of the Swiss Alps. Stibbon makes large scale drawings whilst on location, which she then later translates onto large sheets of Plywood. Her style of printing produces rugged surfaces that reflect these epic and unpredictable terrains.

1960-1_Stibbon_webFrom ‘Firn’ (2008) by Emma Stibbon

Print technology derived from digital generated artwork is the status quo. But this charming exhibition is reassuring in it that it shows artists who are clearly passionate about print are still experimenting and producing some beautiful new work using traditional techniques.


(First published in Crafts magazine, July/August 2016)

Willem Sandberg: from type to image
De La Warr Pavilion,
30 April – 4 September 2016
Reviewed by Patrick Myles

1.WSAt a time when a limited print run (and of course budget) are part and parcel of many a design brief, this retrospective of the Willem Sandberg’s work is both pertinent and inspirational. Willem Sandberg (1897-1984) was a prolific graphic designer throughout his lifetime, but what is outstanding is that his most renowned work of more than 270 posters and 250 catalogues were produced only in his spare time, following his appointment as director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam at the age of 48.

As museum director, he introduced contemporary art to the post-war Netherlands and laid the foundations for one of the best collections of modern art in Europe. But his multi-faceted approach brought inspired curator and seminal graphic designer together to create a distinctive and unique body of work.

CjT3LyvUgAI8w6sSandberg at his desk at the Stedelijk Museum, c1960 Photograph: Pieter Brattinga

Not surprisingly, it was the outbreak of the Second World War and the German occupation that marked a turning point in Sandberg’s life. The activities of the museum where he was already working were compromised, and there is a fascinating documentary film in the exhibition that describes how many significant works from the collection had been deposited for safe keeping in a vault hidden in sand dunes by the sea.

Also to help those in need of false papers to be able to work and avoid arrest, a group of designers and printers, including Sandberg, successfully produced identity cards, complete with watermarks and signatures that went undetected. Sandberg later said: “This for me is the greatest praise I have ever had for my typographic work.” However there was also a plan to attack the Central Civil Registry Office that held records of the city’s Jewish Residents. The attack was only partly successful, and almost all of Sandberg’s co-conspirators were betrayed and executed. He escaped and went into hiding.

During this period Sandberg managed to continue with his own private work, and on display are a selection of exquisite handmade booklets that he produced between 1943 and 1945. Each booklet had between 20 and 60 pages using various kinds of paper and typefaces presented through drawing, collage and photography, and in doing so building foundations for later work. He appropriately gave them the collective name experimenta typografica.

But it is the later catalogue and poster work for the Stedelijk that dominates the show, with Sandberg’s characteristic use of simple and bold use of colour and typography. Experimental and Avant-garde for its time, his off-centred combinations of sans-serif type dance across the page with bold Egyptian slab serif letterforms. The use of paper is so essential to his work, not only as a canvas for print, but he further explored layout and type through the rough contours of torn paper that became a hallmark of his design work.

2.WSInstallation view of the Willem Sandberg exhibition at De La Warr Pavilion

Sandberg’s playful and artistic approach to promoting the museum’s exhibitions really feels like it comes from a complete understanding and involvement with the subject matter that he clearly had. He made fascinating decisions about how to promote art through his design. For example, there are posters advertising the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Miro using only typography to announce heavyweight artists as if they were boxers. It would be a challenging task to convince a client today to agree with this unconventional but by no means effective approach. In doing so, Sandberg paved the way at the Stedelijk for his successor, the equally ground breaking icon of Dutch graphic design, Wim Crouwel.

Sandberg originally developed his methods through a culture of austerity. His use of recycled materials and printing methods almost appear contemporary considering the current rise in popularity of screen-printing and letterpress. However, he was a pioneer of design and as a result introduced a graphic approach that is still in use today 

3.WS.Poster, 1949Poster, 1949

3a.WS.Poster, 1949Poster, 1949

WS.1957-New-Year’s-card_-1956_lowSandberg’s 1957 New Year’s Eve Card, 1956 


(First published in Crafts magazine, May/June 2016)

Underground: 100 Years of Edward Johnston’s Lettering for London
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft,
12 March – 11 September 2016
Reviewed by Patrick Myles

Web_Edward Johnston, Bulls Eye, no date, c_86_134_3_5. Crafts Study Centre.
As part of a recent design brief I was asked to present some fonts that were representative of London. An obvious example was Albertus, the typeface of choice for the Corporation of London. It can be seen on plaques, road signs and buildings, and even used alongside the coat of arms of the City of London itself. Yet still more prevalent across the capital is the typeface for the London Underground. So much so its design by Edward Johnston remains as much of an icon of London as the red double-decker bus, but remarkably has barely changed in over 100 years in service.

An exhibition to celebrate this centenary is being held in a quiet East Sussex village where Johnston began to hand draw the first letterforms for the metropolitan underground System. He was encouraged to move to Ditchling in 1912 by his friend and former student, Eric Gill. Gill had previously relocated there with the hope of establishing something of an artists’ commune, and indeed the village did become a centre for a group of artists and craftspeople who transformed art and design through rediscovering forgotten craft techniques.

Web_Ditchling Museum (17)
The Underground typeface was one of the most iconic developments to emerge from this, and alongside Johnston’s early work as a calligrapher, this small exhibition charts the fascinating development of the design process through a series of original exquisite drawings and prototypes that led to a new and ground-breaking typeface.

Frank Pick, commercial manager of London Underground Railway, proposed the project that initially led to the typeface in 1913. It was a time when disparate companies that had made up the tube network were being merged into a single organisation. Therefore a new and modern identity was required for the Underground system.

Johnston responded to this by designing an alphabet that is simplicity in itself and radically modern for its time. However its design is rooted in the traditional proportions of Roman capital letters. He took inspiration from as far back as Trajan’s Column, with its precisely carved stone cut lettering. Gill had travelled to Rome in 1906 with his new wife Gladys, and there are some photographs on display showing him looking at the Trajan letterforms that also inspired his typeface designs (Gill was so enamoured that there were many photographs in the honeymoon album of Roman lettering, but only one of Gladys). Johnston reduced the traditional Roman capital to a modern sans serif letterform, and continued to simplify it but without sacrificing its character. A distinctive feature is the diamond-shaped full point that is also repeated above the lower case ‘I’ and ‘j’. The typeface is known as Underground or Johnston Sans, and is considered the basis on which Eric Gill designed Gill Sans, which was later released in 1928.

Web_Edward Johnston, Design for an alphabet, 1916 (V&A E 47 1936). Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Central to the exhibition is a London Underground sign that hangs above the jewel-like displays. Taken out of context, it encourages the viewer to look at the familiar roundel with fresh eyes. Memorable yet almost invisible in daily use, it reminds me of the first time I saw a full sized British motorway sign hung on a gallery wall in a previous exhibition about graphic design. The national road signs by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert introduced in the 1960’s are still in use today and also have a classic design status. To take the time to view what is normally seen in passing allows for a new appreciation of the craft involved. By visiting Underground you are given a similar opportunity to enjoy Johnston’s designs in a different and unique setting.

Web_Edward Johnston's Way Out, Brompton Road, 1916. DMAC.

(First published on Grafik, April 2016)

Patrick Myles sings the praises of a beautifully crafted letterform which looks as impressive on a block of concrete as it does online and in print.


The identity created for The Hepworth Wakefield museum is an embodiment of architecture and graphic design distilled into a single bespoke typeface. The purpose-built gallery is situated in the birthplace of sculptor Barbara Hepworth and exhibits examples of her work as well as other British modernists and contemporary artists. The building by David Chipperfield Architects is designed with striking angular shapes that are also reflected in the gallery spaces within. In response to this the font designed by the London based studio A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL) in turn reflects the architecture of the gallery building.

A distinctive feature of the Hepworth typeface is the angled ends of the letterforms. According to the designers, the angles are derived from the roofs of the museum and surrounding buildings. Hepworth Wakefield Regular is a typeface developed not only to be implemented across the usual range of requirements from printed material to website, but to be sand blasted into the raw concrete walls of the building itself. The type design is therefore fully integrated with the architecture itself in a powerful yet elegant way.

There is also something evocative of the modernist typeface that Edward Johnston designed in 1916 for the London Underground. Surprisingly he took his inspiration from the classical letterforms carved in the ancient stone of Trajan’s Column in Rome. Johnston reduced the traditional Roman capital to a modern sans serif without sacrificing its personality. I also like the economy of form in the design of the Hepworth typeface and how the bevelled ends of the capitals are a simple detail that creates its own distinct character. The most pleasing letterform for me is the ‘W’. It’s the most structural of all the characters, and I like the contrast between the pointed and the angled stems. I love the shape it makes and could be a logo in its own right.

The majority of my own work has involved representing three dimensional buildings into two dimensional media. As a result I’ve spent a lot of time working with fonts that compliment specific styles of architecture and therefore have a deep appreciation for the design of this typeface.

5_Hepworth17_HepworthThe Hepworth Wakefield…

…comprises of 16,000 square metres of purpose-built gallery space. As well as Barbara Hepworth’s drawings, prints, models and sculptures, the Hepworth Wakefield also houses an impressive collection of works from Wakefield’s former municipal art gallery. Despite some initial resistance from locals about the building’s appearance, the gallery welcomed its millionth visitor just two and a half years after it first opened.

Alex Evans’ intricate work explores both mathematical and biological forms through architectural inspired drawing.

Crushed, 2014. Pen on paper, 30cm X 38cm

Growing up in Milton Keynes might not inspire everyone to develop a passion for architecture, however for artist Alex Evans that certainly was the case. He explained to me that as a result of living in a new town, he became aware of urban planning and the built environment from an early age. That said there is aesthetically very little similarity to be seen in the fantastical hand drawn futuristic cityscapes that Evans’ produces today.

His meticulously detailed architectural illustrations are not based on actual skylines but are drawn purely from the imagination. Geometric shapes are created with a fine ink pen, creating beautiful graphic and very personal interpretations of contemporary architecture. Also inspired by 20th Century urban planning theories, there is a strong sense of order within the underlying structure of the drawings. Yet Evans’ chooses to disrupt this against ideas of nature evoking the inherent chaos of the metropolis. A good example of this can be seen in Drift where foliage and city smoke have been stripped away, leaving organic voids that disrupt the ordered facades of the buildings.

Drift, 2015. Pen on paper, 87cm X 51cm

Surprisingly though you can also see similar irregularities created from geometry, evident in one of his most ambitious pieces. Entitled Truncated Icosidodecahedron, Evans assures me that if cut out and folded together, this 2 dimensional drawing would indeed make this rather complex 3 dimensional shape. But looking at it flats reminds me of nature once again, this time in the form of an impossibly irregular snowflake.

Truncated Icosidodecahedron, 2014. Pen on paper, 78cm X 68cm

Alex Evans’ work is currently on display as part of the Urban Dialogue exhibition at the Anise Gallery, London (Until 17th October 2015), and is presented alongside the photography of Agnese Sanvito. Both artist’s interpretations of the urban landscape create an interesting juxtaposition of the real and the imagined through two separate disciplines.

(First published in Crafts magazine, July/August 2014)

InsideOUT: Contemporary Bindings of Private Press Books
St Bride Foundation, London EC4Y 8EQ
15 May – 22 August 2014
Reviewed by Patrick Myles

Ann Tout - MidwinterMidwinter, Ann Tout, bound in goatskin with pen, watercolour, gilt, silk and marbled paper.
270 x188 mm

My passion for books is not just for the content, but the experience of the physical object itself. What appeals most is the tactile and visual quality, and how the message is communicated through the medium of print. Bookbinding is a craft that responds to the inherent brief of the content; individually produced, copies are the ultimate in limited hand-made editions. It is hardly surprising that they are regarded by some as the holy grail of book collecting.

InsideOUT, an ambitious undertaking, involved 34 binders from the UK’s Designer Bookbinders society 25 North American bookbinders. It showcases their response to titles and material supplied by private presses from both sides of the Atlantic. But what is unusual about this exhibition is that it breaks the conventional mould – of only displaying the covers – by also showing a selection of the actual supplied content, samples of texts and illustrations seen alongside the bindings.

Visitors expecting to see beautiful examples of high quality contemporary bookbinding will not be disappointed. But the most interesting pieces on display are the bindings that represent the content in a thought-provoking, innovative way. A perfect example is Sue Doggett’s design for Diane Ketcham’s Thomas Jefferson’s Paris Walks. Embodying intellectual and artistic brilliance for Jefferson, Paris was on the verge of a bloody revolution. The concept includes architectural details and use of colour suggests decomposition and the breakdown of social order. The piece is made from hand-dyed goatskin, embroidered, then painted with acrylic. The author’s private affairs are alluded to through a lace panel, a detail also hinting at the excesses of the French Royal family.

Despite the popularity and convenience of the Kindle, there is still a demand and desire for the physical book. Print looks destined to stay, just as the vinyl record survives, attracting new generations wanting a better quality of sound than you get from digital formats, as well as the large format artwork of the album cover. It also remains a viable platform for new artists. The Designer Bookbinders hope to promote a similarly progressive influence on the art, design and techniques of the hand-made book, and to encourage public interest in bookbinding through literature, public talks and exhibitions like this.

Appropriately, the show’s opening venue in London – before it tours the US – was in the St. Bride Foundation, where the society recently made its new home, and where it hopes to establish a ‘Centre for the Book’.

C L Ingalls - King of the AlpsKing of the Alps, C L Ingalls, French structure bound in full white alum tawed goatskin.
285 x 173 x 14mm

Eri Funazaki - TsarevichTsarevich, Eri Funazaki, stub sewn binding in full mulberry-coloured goatskin, with recessed vellum onlays and carbon and gold tooling.
290 x 215 x 15 mm

Lori Sauer - The Silverado SquattersThe Silverado Squatters, Lori Sauer, bound in reverse vellum with Japanese paper onlays.
248 x 180 x 23 mm

Rachel Ward-Sale - MidwinterMidwinter, Rachel Ward-Sale, bound in alum tawed goatskin pierced with ovals revealing red coloured boards underneath.
267 x 182 x 10 mm

Sue Doggett - Thomas Jefferson's Paris WalksThomas Jefferson’s Paris Walks, Sue Doggett, full-bound in hand-dyed and machine embroidered goatskin. Onlays made form sewn and dyed goatskin, crocheted lace and transfer print.
241 x 165 x 57 mm

(First published in Edge Condition June 2014)

What happens from the building to the printed page.

Blog-BP covers

I’m not an architect but I specialize in representing architecture on the printed page. I’m a graphic designer and magazine art director, and a great deal of my work involves translating 3 dimensional structures into a 2 dimensional format either on paper or via a computer screen. I’m not alone in this process. I collaborate with architectural photographers and often the architects themselves who supply me their visualisations and drawings.

I also work with architectural journalists. In most cases they would have visited the buildings before me and have their own opinions of what is important to represent and brief me accordingly. I’ve also been privileged to work with great editors like Vicky Richardson on Blueprint (currently head of Architecture, Design and fashion at the British Council), and more recently Hugh Pearman at the RIBA Journal, who is also the architecture critic of The Sunday Times.

Blog-BP layout

The process begins with discussing the main concepts behind the projects, and we look though the photography, and the various drawings of site plans, floor plans, elevations and sections. If appropriate we might also include sketches, models and renderings. But more often than not the photography and drawings combined are enough to describe the building or scheme. Editorially there is limited space due to issue size and the amount of pages that can be dedicated to each feature. Therefore the picture editing has to be selective, and each image chosen to communicate a specific view of the architecture. Also when I am looking through the material and considering how to approach the layouts I’m also looking for a strong opening image through to an appropriate end shot, and possibly an arresting front cover.

So from a graphic point of view architectural imagery in all of its forms can be required to serve more than just accurately representing a building. When I redesigned Blueprint magazine in 2006 the process did not only include the magazine design but was also an opportunity to reconsider the use of imagery starting with the front cover. Blueprint has always covered a broader range of design disciplines, but unlike before we decided to set a rule with the relaunch of always choosing architecture for the front cover to reflect the core subject matter of the magazine. The photography chosen or art directed for the cover was not purely descriptive, but intriguing and atmospheric with a graphic impact that would lead to it being picked up from the newsstand. An example of this is when I worked on a cover and feature for ZH Architects the recently completed Maggie Centre (Link) in Fife, Scotland. Although the photographer Helene Binet had been commissioned to document the building, part of the brief was also to shoot an exclusive image for the cover of Blueprint magazine. When I discussed this with Helene, one of the challenges that became apparent was how to photograph such a landscape structure to fit a portrait cover format, as well as allowing space for the logo and cover lines. I suggested that the cover image could be quite abstract compared to the rest of the more descriptive photography that she was shooting for the feature itself. As a result, Helene confidently came back to me with one unusual night shot that worked perfectly to make a bold and dynamic front cover.

Blog-RIBAJ cover

Drawings on the front cover of an architectural magazine is nothing new, however rather than just use a supplied architects work I chose to collaborate and see what could be achieved working together. The process was fundamentally the same as art directing a photographer or illustrator as giving guidance on how their work could be used in the context of a magazine. I thought it worked particularly well when collaborating with East architects on an issue where we featured their new public square in Bermondsey that was completed in 2009. A profile piece on the practice included more images of the square, but the theme was continued in another broader feature on the design and use of public spaces. Various locations in London were selected and appropriately used a reportage style of photography capturing the spaces in use.

Editorially showing the function and the life of the built environment might be fundamental to what the piece is about. For example the photographer Iwan Baan has been acclaimed for doing just that and his own take on architectural photography is to capture the built environment in use and more often than not that includes people being in shot. The RIBA Journal recently published his images of the newly completed Glasgow School of art building (shortly before the disastrous fire), and as is his style, Iwan creatively included people within the building helping to depict an overall sense of function and scale.

Blog-RIBAJ layouts

As an art director and designer of architectural magazines and books, it is important to identify key images to translate 3 dimensional architecture into a 2 dimensional format. If correctly edited and presented the reader will be taken on a descriptive tour of a building and come away with a good understanding of its form, function and ambitions.


Blog-RIBAJ layouts2

(First published in Crafts magazine, March/April 2014)

26 Words: an exhibition exploring the DNA of language
Free Word Centre, London EC1R 3GA
26 November–31 January 2014
Reviewed by Patrick Myles

26 Words is touring. Click here for details


‘Waves’ By Rob Self-Pierson and Sally Castle
Coates image @ the artist
Photo: Clarrisa Bruce

As a graphic designer and magazine art director I am regularly supplied with journalist’s copy that I then typeset and incorporate as part of a page layout. I often use typefaces that are part of a carefully considered template that presents the message to the reader in a utilitarian way. After all letterforms are one of the most important means of communication for a graphic designer. However for a lettering artist those set of rules do not apply. Hand lettering in its many forms can powerfully convey emotions and subliminal information that more restrained forms of typography generally communicate in a more limited way.

So when the Letter Exchange, an organisation of lettering artists and 26, an organisation of creative writers decided to collaborate to on a project to celebrate their respective birthdates, it was destined to be a purely experimental undertaking.

The groups organised to meet in the cramped basement of a London pub, and with an element of theatre performed a modern version of an ancient Roman ritual. A blunt kitchen knife was inserted into a large dictionary Twenty-six times, its tip choosing a word from each letter of the alphabet in turn. Twenty-six pairs of lettering artists and writers were randomly paired and given one word each to work with. A final couple were given the challenging task of weaving all the words together in a final piece.

This arbitrary process has produced a wildly varied body of work, with a variety of methods and interpretations of letterforms. The materials also used range from paper, ink, lino, glass, different metals, and in some cases the words have been literally set in stone. On the other end of the spectrum words are presented on notepaper, and another is purely digital. Whatever the medium the most successful work on view conveyed not only the writer’s words, but visually add to describing their true meaning. In some cases this artistic reinterpretation of the written word is taken further, to the sacrifice of legibility; but this is very nuch in keeping with the spirit of this project.

The word ‘wave’ was the starting point for the piece Wave with words by Rob Self-Pierson in collaboration with lettering artist Sally Castle. It’s a good example of a sentence that has been interpreted to visually capture their meaning. The letterforms not only give a sensation of the movement of waves, but also are in themselves passing each other by. Castle experimented with different types of papers and found that printing on both sides of a semi-transparent Japanese paper gave some unforeseen results where the letters appear to touch but not quite meet, seemingly appropriate for the wording.

The expression of words and what they look like is now largely dictated to us by keyboards and touch screens, and although the computer in some cases has been used as a tool, the work in the exhibition is really about the material world and the free expression of the letterform. Perhaps exploring the DNA of language as the title suggests, will lead to further collaborations between 26 and The Letter Exchange. After all typographic experimentation has played a part in the evolution of the diverse range of letterforms that we have today.

Architectural photographer Andy Spain was aware that there were inconsistencies in his personal branding and presentation from his business cards and invoices through to his website, blog and twitter avatar.

Andy said “I’ve been in business for 8 years now and decided it was time I had a logo and brand to run alongside all the material I produce. I commissioned art director and designer Patrick Myles to come up with some ideas. After a few meetings and many an hour discussing my likes and dislikes Patrick came up with a new logo and graphic styling that answered my brief.”


The design of the logo is based on stencil letter forms that have an industrial and architectural quality appropriate for the area of photography that Andy specialises in. A circle intended as a graphic reference to a camera lens or aperture has replaced the crossbar of the letter. It has been designed to be versatile enough to work equally well in print and online, as well as lending itself to be embossed on portfolio covers and presentation boxes in a variety of materials.

ImageiPad screensaver

As well as working as a simple mono logo on Andy’s new letterheads and invoices, I designed a series of double sided business cards using the underscore as a consistent graphic device with the type set in National and in caps for the photographer’s title. On the reverse side I have introduced the new logo like a photographer’s ‘watermark’ over examples of Andy’s architectural and interior images. The cards have been printed on triple thick board with 2 white sheets either side of a black sheet in the centre. The design has also been applied in the same way on the opening image of Andy’s online portfolio. The logo will always remain in the same position but the image will alternate as the site is regularly updated.

PRESS RELEASE - New identity design for architectural photographer-2Selection of double sided business cards 

B+W letterhead


“The logo has been carefully designed to be used as my twitter icon and across all my other social networking pages, as well as screen savers from iPhone to iMac. Patrick also chose a font to standardise the text styles across all my promotional material.” Andy Spain.

(First published in Crafts magazine, July/August 2012)

Linotype: The Film
Directed by Douglas Wilson
Planned international release in October 2012
Reviewed by Patrick Myles

The famous inventor Thomas Edison called the Linotype the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. So what precisely is it? A typesetting machine that sets one line of type at a time is the simple answer. But its also an invention that revolutionised the world – yet most people have never heard of it, or creator Otto Mergenthaler.

Doug Wilson’s film is a fascinating tribute to an invention that heralded the dawn of mechanical typesetting, and played a pivotal role in the advancement of print and publishing. Introduced in the late 1800s, it rapidly replaced the art of setting metal letters by hand with a new set of skills – operating a Linotype machine. Mergenthaler was a German watchmaker and inventor who came to America in 1872. He settled in Baltimore where he was asked to find a quicker way of publishing legal documnets. His idea was a machine that would both stamp the letters, and also cast them. It resembled a giant typewriter – the operator entered text on a keyboard, and then cast a single piece, called a ‘slug’ of type metal. This process became universally known as ‘hot metal typesetting’.

Along with letterpress printing, it became the industry standard for all forms of print, including books and posters. The New York Times was set using the Linotype for 80 years. After a lifetime of service its reign eventually came to an end with the arrival of the Photosetter in the 60s and 70s. This in turn was replaced by the digital technology that we now use today.

Wilson brings this history to life via the stories of some of the last of the original operators, as well as some wonderfully eccentric modern day enthusiasts – the film is full of charming anecdotes and amusing sound-bites. it took a particular kind of person to actually operate the machine, which not only required tuition and craftsmanship, but a degree of fearlessness – as these contraptions would from time to time squirt out molten metal. And there was the noise. One of the reasons that newspapers of the time liked to employ deaf people was because they were not bothered by the din of working conditions. One such operators was Eldon Meeks, now 83, who demonstrates the skill that sill makes him the fastes known Linotype operator today. Despite not being able to hear the machines, operators such as Meeks could otherwise sense when something was going wrong and respond to it as quickly as anyone else.

The Linotype has a unique 90-key keyboard.

Described in one scene as being like a ballet between man and machine, the relationship turned for some into a kind of love affair. When its role as the universal way of working came to an end, many were heartbroken, not just as there own skills became redundant, but also to see their long serving workhorses literally thrown out as scrap metal. Some survive in museums and personal collections, but keeping them in working order is time-consuming and expensive. One owner in particular finally decides to consign his to the scrap yard, but struggles to look on as his film is being demolished.

The letterpress survives as a specialist practice, and there are passionate younger enthusiasts in the film learning the craft of using the Linotype. But wether this knowledge will be passed on to future generations who keep the art alive, or if it will only survive as museum exhibits, remains to be seen. The documentary is sensitively filmed and edited, not just an important record of a significant chapter in print history, but a testament to the people who understood and worked every day on these extraordinary machines.

All images: © Linotype: The Film