NEAT

Carl Middleton veteran

Studio b

I have broken type, caught my fingers between rollers, torn paper, waited weeks for ink to dry...

How long have you been printing?

1979

Describe your first encounter with letterpress

Printing with an Adana 8×5 as a teenager – I used it to produce some membership cards. I remember being shocked at the authority of the printed matter (this was in a pre computer age where a photocopier was seen as in the service of the Devil).

Where did you learn?

I am pretty much self taught – I had brief introductions at both Cambridge School of Art and thereafter at London College of Printing but whilst studying at undergraduate and post graduate levels my interests where directed towards other forms of image making – it was only after my masters degree I became curious about the value of letterpress printing.

I have (and still do) collected type even prior to university, so by the time I finally purchased a basic galley press I had amassed quite a collection of wooden type and had become proficient in printing without a press - by burnishing the back of the printing paper with a wooden spoon.

I have broken type, caught my fingers between rollers, torn paper, waited weeks for ink to dry and committed a large number of other crimes against the traditional teachings of the printing industry. I continue with this approach today...

Who was your most influential teacher?

Tim Foster at Cambridge – Tim was always interested in the emotional impact of design – what it is capable of, rather than what it outwardly represents in visual terms.

Perhaps this is why I still contemplate the value of design content rather than focussing too much with the million variants involved in the aesthetics of making work.

What super power would you like to have?

I would love to have the ability to fly – although I suffer from vertigo so I would only be able to transport myself a few feet from the ground sober (with the introduction of alcohol I may be able to reach more giddy heights).

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

Both.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their humor and the ability to put up with mine.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

By accident, when I least expect them – when I am thinking about something else.

If you were to die and come back as a typeface, which would it be?

Johnson’s underground typeface – the underground is an interesting place full of romance and drama – an ideal spot to visit in spirit form.

What tool do you use more often than any other?

My rollers.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Business for Punks – James Watt
Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
The Circle – Dave Eggers

If you could study with any printer throughout history, who would it be?

Adolfo Kaminsky.

If you have your own shop, what equipment do you own?

1 Soldan Proof Press / 100 cases of wooden type / 10 cases of metal type / 100 tins of ink / 2 stools / 4 Aprons / 10 Rollers / 3 Rulers / 1 Hammer / 1 Pug / 1 bucket full of dirty rags.

If you could change one thing about your shop, what would it be?

Enlarge it by ten times its original size.

When and where are you the happiest?

At home between nine and midnight.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

Flared trousers will return and become fashionable again.

What do you think is useful about what you make?

It encourages people to read.

What’s your day job?

Graphic Design / Typography.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

A little lino cutting, wood engraving and collagraph.