31.01.15 — Journal

Leeds Print Festival 2015

So after being stranded in Leeds on Thursday after planning to go to Burnley to conduct some research for my Pantone D&AD Brief, which is to “reimagine your hometown through the language of colour”, myself and a bunch of other designer friends headed down to Leeds College of Music for the Leeds Print Festival (#LPF2015) talks.

A dusting of snow over Hyde Park
Sketching and research for my brief

After wandering round the foyer and picking up my invite and a tonne of free print goodies, we took our seats and the first speaker was up: Alec Dudson, editor and creator of Intern magazine. He made a strong case for the retention of print as a medium and also as a craft, with points such as:

  1. Print presents a unique method of discovery, free of algorithms and associations as found online.
  2. Print is an art form, as you are creating and working with physical materials.
  3. Print is permanent.
  4. Print forces you to consider ideas more carefully, as mistakes cannot be rectified later on.
  5. You can interact with print, it is an object that you can take, lend and want back.

The points he made (which were more numerous than the select few above) really made me consider focusing more on print in my work, and treating the process as more of a fine craft, rather than just taking for granted my handy little inkjet. The talks continued with two speakers from Counterpress, a letterpress studio in East London.

They also made further compelling points – noting how that print, rather than dying out, is just becoming more of a specialised process. This idea that print is becoming a specialist craft, rather than just a standard method of mass-producing environmentally unfriendly copies of something, was an optimistic new take on print’s seeming decline which I agree with.

Counterpress take the stage

After a quick break, Paul Heys, a senior lecturer of Graphic Design at Sheffield Hallam University took the stage. He had an interesting story to share on a project he embarked on with the Stanley Kubrick Archive at UAL, and also some other wisdom, my personal favourite being “find what you love and let it kill you.”

We then took some time for lunch, where we headed just across the street to Café 164 for a delicious chicken and chilli sandwich. Situated just next to Colours May Vary, it’s a lovely spot to stop by for a snack and a coffee if you’ve treated yourself to a lovely new book.

As part of the Print Festival events, the exhibition space by the café was housing a selection of beautiful prints from a variety of designers and artists. Two of my favourites are below…

I love the colours in this set
I love this because I love pizza, and the style is beautiful

Before too long it was time to head back to the auditorium to recommence with the talks. Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review was there to greet us (as he did last year), and he introduced the next two specialists to deliver their talk: a father and daughter duo who run Perrot Bespoke Printing, a print studio down in London.

Having been featured in a video during last year’s festival, it was great to have them there to deliver a speech, which they began by reshowing the original video. It’s a beautiful piece of filmmaking showing the equally beautiful work that the workshop produces, and you should definitely go and give it a watch.

Next up we had Ben Freeman from Ditto Press on stage to give a talk on the work he does at his London studio, where he seemingly pioneered the introduction of the risograph printing process for decorative work rather than simply batch copying of boring ol’ documents. One of there most famous pieces of print work is the Ninja Turtle Porn Museum (check it out here, it’s quite obviously NSFW, however).

To finish of a long day of talks, a design legend Ken Garland took the stage, to present a talk entitled “Protest Graphics: Professional & Amateur”. Ken had us all in stitches as he talked us through some gabel end art in Derry, the use of amateur and professional designs in signage used during protests, and other pieces of famous graphic designs protesting against issues such as nuclear war (including some of his own!).

The talks ended with a panel discussion, where the audience were invited to ask questions of a panel including Ken, Patrick Burgoyne, Paul Heys and the guys from Counterpress. It was here where Ken dropped another pearl of wisdom, which I am very much tempted to print out and stick on my wall: “What we need is less graphics. Graphics can be a pain in the ass. There are too many signs everywhere. I love it here. I don’t see a single sign. Lovely. Wonderful.”

I have since made it home from the festival and unpacked my backpack full of delicious print loot, including a copy of Intern Magazine which I picked up for just £5. I had another amazing day at the Print Festival and would strongly urge that anyone with any interest in graphic design, art or just the medium in general heads down there next year for what I am sure will be another wonderfully informative day!

Some print goodies from the festival