The Warehouse Home team love supporting and collaborating with the passionate, interesting and innovative designers behind our Capsule Collections. In our new series of interview posts, .
This week’s interview is with Beatrice Bless, letterpress designer and co-founder of New North Press, an artisan letterpress print studio in East London.
Beatrice Bless in the New North Press letterpress studio, East London Photography by Charlotte Schreiber
Where do you draw inspiration for your work? I draw inspiration from my surroundings, by exploring new things and working on different projects.
Tell us about your design process? Which is your favourite stage of that process?
Letterpress is a slow process. Setting type isn’t the same as typing and arranging it on a computer screen. Every character, and the white space surrounding it, is a physical object. Both are constructed like building blocks into the final form. We print on 19th Century Albion presses, which means that each print is inked individually with a roller, wound into the press and pulled by hand. The quality of the outcome is outstanding but takes time and skill. It’s a very tactile and physical process. And it’s also worth remembering that our oil-based inks take at least 24 hours to dry, so it’s not a process that can be rushed. We have hundreds of drawers of type and it’s always a pleasure to find the right one for a specific message or sentiment. Personally, I like the moment when ink comes into play, choosing or mixing colours that bring the work to life.
“I like the moment when ink comes into play, choosing or mixing colours that bring the work to life” says Beatrice Photography by Charlotte Schreiber
What do you enjoy most about being a designer / designer-maker?
I enjoy the slow and considered process behind print-making. Every step is very carefully thought through. Working with a traditional craft offers a physical connection with its materials and tools – that’s quite unusual nowadays. And I’m proud to be upholding and celebrating the heritage of letterpress and printmaking.
What achievements or projects are you most proud of and why?
We carry out projects ranging from poster commissions, branding and artist books to cards and invitations. I feel most proud of the projects where I have been challenged by a design brief and have really had to apply my skills and knowledge of the craft. At the end of the day, whatever the size of the project, my aim is always to give customers more than they expected.
“Every character, and the white space surrounding it is, has to be constructed. It’s like building blocks,” explains Beatrice Image courtesy of charlotteschreiber.com
Tell us about your design collaboration with Warehouse Home?
I was contacted by Warehouse Home to design a poster that had a sense of heritage, a Victorian feel and a maritime influence. I tried to combine these guidelines with our letterpress studio’s ethos, which is to communicate history through typography. I immediately thought of the ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor’ rhyme and selected a deep blue ink that reflected both heritage and maritime.
What’s coming next? Can you tell us what you’re currently working on? And what are your trend predictions for 2016?
We are currently working on a new limited poster edition, which tells of what we love about life/work in the East of London. We’re also designing packaging for a supermarket and collaborating with an artist on the design for their book. And…we’re preparing for our next public workshop; we hope to encourage a deeper appreciation for the traditional craft of letterpress through hands-on classes.
Beatrice works in a small team including Graham Bignell and Richard Ardagh | Photography by Charlotte Schreiber
The ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor’ letterpress print by New North Press is available to buy from the Warehouse Home Shop.
And if you are passionate about typography and print, don’t forget to take a look at our dedicated Pinterest board:
Remember to take a look at Warehouse Home Issue Three. You can read the issue in full here or in the reader below: