This paper examines the role of letterpress as a medium to produce limited edition artists’ books drawing on key examples from The Ministry of Books Special Collection (University of Portsmouth, UK). The author discusses the term ‘traditional technologies’ as opposed to ‘emerging technologies’ within this genre and reflects upon what we mean by those terms. There is consideration of the aura of the original and how our understanding of this, in relation to letterpress, is still evolving. The established tradition of artists’ books using letterpress relies on a wealth of skills and expertise - this once popular technique has, with the advancement of newer technologies such as digital, often been abandoned by many educational institutions as being outmoded and labour-intensive. This paper seeks to show how this process influences the visual output to a positive effect. The creative practitioner may not wish to become an expert in this field, but does letterpress’s perceived ‘slowness’ impede the creative flow, or enhance the speculative nature of it? These selected examples from The Ministry of Books collection highlight the beauty and tactility of this medium and consider how the viewer’s experience can be enhanced through multi-sensory artists’ books.
Publishing Practices: Past, Present, and Future
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Course Leader BA Illustration, Art & Design and Performance, University of Portsmouth
I am currently the course leader for BA (HONS ) Illustration where I run units in bookworks, social awareness and printmaking. I am the curator of the Ministry of Books artist's books collection that houses over 200 + special editions.My particular interest is in letterpress and literature.