Guillaume Bétemps veteran

L'Atelier à l'Envers

Printing is not just a button that you click

How long have you been printing?


Describe your first encounter with letterpress

I've discovered typography during a 6-month stay in Sao Paulo - Brazil.

Where did you learn?

At Oficina Tipografica Sao Paulo

Who was your most influential teacher?

Claudio Rocha and Marcos Mello were my teachers there. They are the ones responsible for giving me this incurable disease called "Typography" ;)

What super power would you like to have?

The power to clean rolls full of ink in a snap of a finger.

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

I prefer to print with others because this way you can share your ideas and the prints are always more creative this way. However, living and working in the middle of the mountains I often find myself printing alone with only the marmots helping me out.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, humor and the ability to say "let's go!" when we decide to start printing at midnight!

When do your best ideas occur to you?

Night-time is a special moment where the good ideas often come. There is a bit of this feeling that the newspaper printers must have felt when finishing their edition (in french it is called "bouclage"). Only them were awake and preparing something the people would discover the next morning.

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

I think Antique Olive Extra Bold Italique from Roger Excoffon is a great font to come back from death. It is the typeface of the Air France logotype and therefore I would just fly off in first class Concorde drinking champagne when coming back from the grave.

What tool do you use more often than any other?

Magnets but please don't tell this to Gutenberg, he would kill me.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

1984 form Georges Orwell

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

I would love to visit the atelier from Aldo Manuzio in Venezzia to discover this period with such creativity and skillful craftsmen.

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

I have one Korrex Stuttgart, one small Adana press and one transportable A3 proof press that I use for my workshops outside the atelier.

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

I would really like to have a larger press to print 40 × 60 posters. Until now I can only print A3+ and many of the woodtype fonts I have are just too big for this size. So this is an announce if anyone has a 40 × 60 proof press to sell, I am there the next morning ;)

When and where are you the happiest?

In my atelier when printing with friends and with the walls full of prints.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

My greatest fear is to be too isolated to keep my creativity moving on. Living far away from the worker_city I either need to move to bigger places or to make people come and visit the atelier.

What do you think is useful about what you make?

Spread the message that printing is not just a button that you click and that there is a whole history behind this that we need to know. Especially when working with kids, I think it is important for them to know where we come from and also to see that we can experiment so many things with printing.

What’s your day job?

My day job is graphic designer.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

I am sometimes creating backgrounds with spray stencils and mixing it with letterpress. Also with kids they are preparing their own backgrounds with acrylic painting and then superposing the types.