Archived posts: Magazines

Interrobang: an international showcase of letterpress print


The lovely people at St Jude’s Prints have just sent us the latest edition of their Random Spectacular journal, Interrobang, and it’s a corker.

It’s been published in collaboration with Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, which is our new favourite place in the whole world.

The Sussex village of Ditchling was the home of letter-cutter Eric Gill (he’s the chap who designed Gill Sans) and calligrapher Edward Johnston (responsible for the famous Johnston typeface used by London Underground). The museum has collected together works from them, and from the artists and craftspeople who gathered around them.

We took a wander down that way a month or so ago. It made for a fantastic day out, starting with a stroll along the South Downs.


Here’s a sign post set, of course, in Gill Sans.


And an old National Trust sign, set in Albertus.


On the way from the Downs to the museum, you pass the home where Edward Johnston used to work and live. (We believe the security light is a more recent addition.)


The museum’s identity was designed by Phil Baines. And boy it looks great on a sunny spring day. Loving that arrow.


The current main exhibition at the museum is a history of the development of the Johnston typeface, and that alone makes it worth a visit. Just look at this lower case qu ligature. And the alternate versions of the g!



And check out this lovely set of Ws:



If you do one thing this year, go to Ditchling. Twice.

Anyway, we digress.

As part of their brilliant Village of Type events which run throughout May, the museum has put together Interrobang – an international showcase of letterpress print. The exhibition is an open submission, with pieces selected by a panel of typographers and designers.

The journal, designed by Kenneth Gray, and put together by St Jude’s in tandem with the show, features a selection of fantastic articles about the current state of letterpress printing, as well as all the work from the show.

It opens with Phil Baines writing about Hilary Pepler, who set up the local St Dominic’s Press in 1919.


Then there’s an insightful article by David Marshall and Elizabeth Ellis of The Counter Press about the state of letterpress. They rightly point out that letterpress printing is having a moment, with myriad new small presses joining the old hands who’ve been doing it for years. But they worry about whether letterpress printing is being valued purely for its old-world values: ‘it seems that more often than not, people struggle to leave the nostalgia and vintage charm of the aesthetic in the past.’ They warn of the danger of ‘pastiche and unimaginative reproduction’.

Coming from anyone else, this might sound like they’re just stirring the pot. But they’re one of the most exciting design teams working with letterpress at the moment. They specialise in what they call ‘traditional techniques with modern design thinking’. Here’s the cover of their recent publication Extra Condensed.


It is beautiful. And we do care.

This theme continues in Patrick Baglee’s wonderful interview with Alan Kitching: ‘He is a designer that is surrounded by and works with letterpress type and letterpress technology. But it is the ideas and deeper meaning that step forward… This sense of expressiveness, of freedom and joy is still what marks Kitching’s work out from much of what passes for letterpress – where it is the means of production that people believe we ought to care about – rather than the final idea as evidence of artistry, craft and simple, clear thinking.’

Here’s Kitching’s recent print for Monotype commemorating Paul Rand:


Later on in the journal, there’s an article about Adams of Rye, the printshop where Anthony Burrill creates his posters, including this recent one for the museum:


Another piece looks at the collaboration between Tilley Printing and poet Nick Alexander, creating posters which are flyposted in the local Tinsmith’s Alley in Ledbury, Herefordshire.


The bulk of the journal though is a showcase of the prints from the show. Here are just a few of those:

From Nicole Arnett Phillips in Brisbane, an analogue bitmap Q: ‘My intention with this series is to explore the space between analogue and digital type design and lettering. Each print translates form between analogue and digital instances. The letterforms start as pencil outlines. I then use physical type – either the face or the feet – (face being right way up type side of the sort, and feet being upside down backside of the physical piece of type) to typeset an analogue bitmap inside the pencil outlines.’


From BunkerType in Barcelona, a print (#6) from their ongoing project, The New Call, based on the work of Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman:


Artist Ruth Kirkby shows one of ‘a series of prints to represent the Western-imposed state borders and the effects they have had on the Middle East. The text in the prints is taken from recent Al Jazeera articles about the areas affected by the enforced borders.’


From New North Press in London, comes a print from their ‘A23D’ 3D-printed letterpress font, designed by A2-Type, fusing old and new technologies.


One Strong Arm in Dublin submitted a print featuring a quote from Rudolf Koch, but we couldn’t find a picture of it, so here’s one of their other pieces, with a quote from Roddy Doyle.


Tom Pigeon, the studio of Pete and Kirsty Thomas, show one of their ‘Cinematype’ prints. ‘Cinematype is an original sans-serif, geometric typeface designed by us and inspired by the typography of early 20th Century film. We’ve worked with British printmaker Thomas Mayo to create these exclusive Cinematype letterpress numbers prints.’


The next print is from The Print Project in Shipley. We’re rather in love with their fantastic posters for the gig night Golden Cabinet, printed using metal type and overprinted laser cut abstract shapes:


We’re also quite taken by this print from The Wireless Press in Brighton. It’s based on Parisian graffiti from the 1968 uprising (the text translates as ‘Stop clapping – the show is everywhere’).


All in all, the journal is a wonderful record of a brilliant show, giving a really thorough sense of what is being produced by the best designers and artists working with letterpress print today.

The exhibition is on until 30 May. In the meantime, you can (and should) buy the Interrobang journal from St Jude’s.

The Best Kids’ Shop in London

Boom! We’re hugely proud to announce that Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has just been nominated as the Best Kids’ Shop in London by the good folks over at Time Out London magazine.

The latest issue of the magazine lists the best 100 shops in the capital, and singles out Hoxton Street Monster Supplies as the very best place for young folk to do a spot of shopping.

Of course, it’s not really a kids’ shop. It’s a shop for monsters. The clue is in the name really. But it would seem impolite to quibble, and the staff are generally fairly tolerant of humans, especially the younger variety.

If you can’t make it along to 159 Hoxton Street, you can buy some of the shop’s wonderful goods at their online store at

Read more about how we designed the shop, and how we helped set up and design the Ministry of Stories.

Noma Bar + Wallpaper*

Noma Bar. He’s a bit clever isn’t he?

He’s just created a series of eight covers for the latest issue of Wallpaper* magazine, and they’re stunners. The covers relate to eight design hubs: Germany, USA, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Belgium and Scandinavia. Known for his witty and economical use of positive and negative space, for Wallpaper Bar has moved into the physical world, creating painted room sets in which products and furniture become part of the illustrations (Nouvel chairs for France, a Schönbuch umbrella stand for Germany, and a Babaghuri ink box for Japan).

Great stuff. And they’re available as posters and limited-edition prints (of course) from Wallpaper.

The Ride Journal – Issue 6

The latest issue of The Ride Journal (#6) has just launched, and as always it’s full of a fantastic mix of words, illustrations, and photography about all forms of cycling goodness. (More full than normal in fact, as this is their largest issue to date.)

This issue also includes a piece written and photographed by Alistair all about his ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

You can pick it up from their site, and there’s also a list of stockists over there too.

Random Spectacular

We’ve recently been making our way through the first issue of Random Spectacular, the lovely limited-edition magazine created by the folks at St Jude’s Prints, and it’s just great.

The magazine was produced in a print run of just 750 copies (all of which sold within 48 hours), the profits from which go to Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres. The magazine features a mix of stories and illustrations from a wide range of very talented people. Here’s a selection of just some of those:

Mark Hearld (above) has put together a menagerie of random and spectacular animals.

Artist, designer, writer and photographer Jake Tilson shows the typefaces he designed for his recent cookery book In at the Deep End.

There’s a lovely interview with the Gentle Author of the fantastic daily blog, Spitalfields Life.

And we also liked this piece by Phil Abel of Hand & Eye Letterpress about the joys of machine-made printing.

Though the first issue has sold out, they’re planning subsequent issues, each one taking a different format. Sign up at the Random Spectacular site to find out more.

Past Present Future

Those clever Diprose boys have been at it again. Not content with producing one of the best cycling magazines around, in the form of The Ride Journal, they’ve just produced this rather lovely book/magazine, Past Present Future, for Condor Cycles.

If you’re familiar with The Ride, it’s a very similar vibe – a collection of essays and photo stories, documenting the history of London bike manufacturer Condor Cycles.

It’s lovely stuff, and it’s really interesting to read the story of the company – far smaller and intimate than we’d previously imagined, and a real family affair.

And boy does it do its job – we came away from reading it totally wanting to buy a new bike…

Past, Present, Future is available from Condor Cycles, Magma, the Design Museum, and Look Mum No Hands.


Earlier this week the good folks over at the Association of Illustrators sent us the latest issue of their magazine, Varoom!

We’d not had a chance to check it out before, and were pleasantly surprised – we were worried it would be too intensely focused on illustration, with not enough to engage a wider audience – but it’s actually a really engaging mix of articles, designed in a clean and unfussy style (by the always brilliant Fernando Gutierrez).

This latest issue features articles about the new Vladimir Nabokov books which Pentagram have designed for Penguin, Des McCannon looking at the prejudices against image based learning in British schools, and an illustrated tutorial from Airside, showing how to make How To… films (above); as well as a whole bunch of other bits and bobs.

Good stuff.

Grafik magazine relaunches

Today sees the relaunch of Grafik magazine, returning after a brief holiday (issue 187 went AWOL, but you can download a pdf version), under the new management of the editorial team of Caroline Roberts and Angharad Lewis, with a new design and masthead from Michael Bojkowski, and featuring a cover created in collaboration with Heath Killen.

Grafik started life as the monthly magazine Graphics International in the early 90s. Larger than the current format, it often featured special finishes, as seen in the two issues below – the one on the left is printed on flocked paper, a velvety textured stock, with a single silver foil; the one on the right, their hundredth issue, is foil-blocked with a repeat pattern of the number 100.

In July 2003 the magazine relaunched as Grafik (issue 107), with a design by Made Thought which seemed to place the magazine’s own design ahead of the content it featured.

Seven or so years later, it’s great to see Grafik becoming a bit quieter again (though we’d still quibble with the use of an italic serif as a highlight in amongst sans serif body copy… but maybe that’s just us). A magazine will always survive on its content, and as always it’s really well researched and written. (Full disclosure here, we’re entirely biased, as our Hoxton Street Monster Supplies project is featured in the new issue. You can read the article in our Press & Books section.)

Check out Jeremy Leslie’s review over at MagCulture, or take out a subscription.

Lovely stuff.

The Ride Journal – Issue 5

The latest issue of The Ride Journal has recently hit the streets, and as always it’s a delicious combination of fine writing, gorgeous photography, and brilliant illustration, all themed around cycling of every form and style. (You can download pdfs of issues 1 and 2 if you want to get a feel for it.)

The cover is again by the good folks at I Love Dust, and it’s just fantastic. Here’s a look at all the full covers so far:

It’s great to see the magazine going from strength to strength. Oh, and the latest issue also features an article by our studio mate David Pearson about Eastern European matchbox labels featuring cycling.

Pedal out and buy one.

Fanzines talk

Bit of a last minute one this, but tomorrow evening (Tuesday 21 September) D&AD are having another of their Sharp’ner events, this time looking at The Art of the Fanzine, with Teal Triggs, whose new book Fanzines is published next month. She’s joined by Alex Zamora (Fever Zine), Cathy Lomax (Arty), Laura Oldfield Ford (Savage Messiah) and Neil Boorman (Shoreditch Twat). The event is at House, 1 Berwick St, and is free for members, £5 for non-members.

Speaking of D&AD, we’re also looking forward to their President’s Lectures, particularly the Pecha Kucha night on 3 November.