Letterpress: looking backward to look forward

Alexander Cooper, Rose Gridneff, Andrew Haslam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Until the latter half of the twentieth century, the majority of art schools and colleges in the UK housed letterpress workshops for the teaching of composition and typography, both as a craft and as a trade. This paper explores the value of retaining these workshops, not merely as a tool to understand our past but as a means to critically reflect upon our future.The benefits of teaching letterpress to graphic design students to encourage a deeper understanding of typography is well documented. Spencer (1982) argued for retaining ‘craft’ subjects as the physicality of processes, including letterpress, foster immersive learning. Edwards (2005) argues that the letterpress process is a significant teaching tool that complements, and should act in conjunction with, computer-based design education. This paper seeks to build upon these debates, examining the intersection between the practice and theory of an otherwise technologically redundant process.This paper focuses upon 6x6: Collaborative Practice in Specialist Subject Areas as a case study. The project brings together six leading UK based Higher Education Institutions with active letterpress workshops. The project encourages the sharing of best practice within a specialist subject area, through the creation of a collaborative publication where students and staff are linking their practice with critical writing about the process. Traditionally, workshop areas have been concerned with the teaching of a skill, often realised through rote learning or technical demonstration. Through placing students at the centre of the process they have been encouraged to form their own positioning on the subject. As links are drawn between typography, language and meaning, we can begin to question why we do something; as opposed to how it is done.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIGA Blunt: Explicit & Graphic Design Criticism Now
Place of PublicationNorfolk, VA, USA
PublisherAIGA Design Educator's Committee
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2013
EventAIGA Blunt: Explicit & Graphic Design Criticism Now - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, April 12-14, 2013
Duration: 14 Apr 2013 → …


ConferenceAIGA Blunt: Explicit & Graphic Design Criticism Now
Period14/04/13 → …


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