Low-Tech Print

Low-Tech Print: Contemporary Hand-Made Printing by Caspar Williamson was released by Laurence King Publishing this past October. Printeresting was provided with a complimentary review copy.

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Printmakers love making, learning about, looking at, and experiencing the touch of fine printed objects. Low-Tech Print will satisfy most of these things in one fell swoop. Caspar Williamson, a London-based designer, illustrator, and printmaker, has assembled a book packed with 100 artists working in print media all over the world. It features a foreword by Jamie Berger of Cranky Pressman, and also an introduction by the author. Williamson runs Flyingmachines, a design, illustration, and art direction company in London. His first book, The Little Book of Screenprinting, was published by Chronicle Books in 2011.

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Anenocena – Los Angeles, California, USA

Broken up into four sections – screenprinting, letterpress, relief, and “other printing methods” – Low-Tech Print successfully functions as a survey of international contemporary printmaking and also can be a nice educational how-to guide to briefly introduce the processes covered. That said, it should be noted that this is not a book covering all print processes. You won’t find intaglio or lithography. What it does cover, though, it covers quite well. The inside flap of the cover sums it up nicely: Low-Tech Print is an exploration of hand-made screenprinting, letterpress, relief printing and other printing methods and how they are used in contemporary design and illustration.

The London-based Laurence Kind Publishing has done a fine job producing a book that is both attractive and functional. Heavyweight matte pages make perusing a treat, and the abundance of included photographs and artwork reproductions look great. It also exists quite nicely as a tactile object, finished with a handsomely debossed sturdy soft cover. This one will look equally great on your coffee table and in your studio.

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As previously mentioned, the book is broken up by process. Each section starts off with a short history followed up by and a brief 4-page step-by-step tutorial of the particular process covering prep, materials, printing, and cleanup. This is certainly not a tell-all technical manual – for example, the letterpress tutorial section covers photopolymer plate printing and doesn’t touch on handset type. However, these technical sections, appropriately titled “A Process in Brief,” do provide a glimpse at how the each process is performed.

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Letterpress – The Process in Brief, penned by Kyle Van Horn of Baltimore Print Studios

Following up the short histories and tutorials are portfolios of work produced by individual artists, studios, and design firms, including a nice range of sources and locations. I counted at least 22 different countries represented throughout the publication, with plenty of artists and designers I was already familiar with and many more I was introduced to for the first time, which is great to see. Many of the artwork reproductions are accompanied by studio shots and short paragraphs about the particular printmakers. Others include brief interviews as well. I do wish the letterpress section featured more artists and studios working with moveable type. After all, the book does emphasize low-tech printmaking, and while polymer plates are still hand-printed, it would have been nice for this section to be more of an even split between digitally-output and traditional letterpress work. That said, the portfolio sections of the book offer a good look at what contemporary printmaking has to offer in the covered categories.

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Crispin Finn – London, UK

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Low-Tech Print also includes three “In Focus” features, each of which provides a more in-depth profile of selected printmaking practitioners: Chicha Posters in Lima, Peru (above), Lambe-Lambe in São Paulo, Brazil, and Print Gocco & Risography in Japan and beyond.

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Power and Light Press – Portland, Oregon, USA / Moveable Type – Everywhere

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Stefan Hoffmann – Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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The Hungry Workshop – Melbourne, Australia

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Brad Vetter – DeKalb, Illinois, USA

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Nick Morley – Margate, Kent, UK

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Bill Fick / Cockeyed Press – Durham, North Carolina, USA

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Endi Poskovic, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Darrel Perkins – Providence, Rhode Island, USA (left)  |  Gary Taxali/Chump Inc. – Toronto, Canada (right)

The “Other Printing Methods” section rounds out the book nicely, highlighting prints produced with Gocco and Risograph machines, legos, rubber stamps, and laser-cut woodblocks.

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Mikey Burton Design and Illustration – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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Letterproeftuin – Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Overall, Low-Tech Print presents an excellent selection of artwork, making it a perfect source of inspiration for emerging and established artists and designers alike. Its well-designed and cleanly organized layout makes it even more enjoyable. I’ve had a good bit of time to sit with Low-Tech Print, and have continuously found myself discovering new and interesting things with each read… And I keep going back for more. That’s certainly a good quality to have in a book, and Caspar Williamson has made it happen.

 

[Image spreads courtesy of Laurence King Publishing]

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One Response to “Low-Tech Print”

  1. Kevin McCloskey says:

    Thank’s for the head’s up, Josh. Such a fine book I thought it would cost a lot. Not so. I just ordered a copy for under $20. Looking forward to it.