Paul & Anita Collier rookie

Not the thing you make, but the conversations and the interactions

Plymouth, United Kingdom

How long have you been printing?

Paul: 1978
Anita: 1989

Describe your first encounter with letterpress

Paul: Following a 10-minute career guidance session at school, my teacher said you need to get an apprenticeship son.
I applied for every apprenticeship going. I went to many interviews and couldn't imagine working at any of them... until I saw this huge machine in a print shop. Paper was going in one end and printed sheets coming out the other. 'WOW' I thought and that was it.
Anita: I was an art student at Plymouth College of Art and Design. I saw a printer operating a huge machine in the print shop at the college. ‘WOW’ I thought and that was it. I fell in love with the process and the printer… I married the printer.

Where did you learn?

Paul: Plymouth College of Art & Design
Anita: In Pauls workshop.

Who was your most influential teacher?

Paul: Bill Shepherd Lecturer, Painter, War Veteran and Great man.
Anita: Paul

What super power would you like to have?

Paul: To travel back (not forward) in time to any time of my choosing. Not to be a part of, just to observe.
Anita: To be able to fly

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

Paul: Both, but I do need my own space.
Anita: Both, but I also need my own space.

What do you most value in your friends?

Paul: Being there.
Anita: Honesty and time.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

Paul: Usually when I'm most likely to forget them.
Anita: When I’m relaxed; chatting with Paul whilst drinking coffee/wine; spontaneous moments; when I’m trying to get to sleep!

What tool do you use more often than any other?

Paul: My quoin key, I've had it from new forty years ago and the wear in the metal is what I have put into it.
Anita: Pen and paper

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Paul: Bible always and How to be a Craftivist by Sarah Corbett.
Anita: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.

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

Paul: Joseph Moxom.
Anita: Gutenberg.

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

Paul: I don't have a workshop, I run the Letterpress workshop at the University of Plymouth. I designed and put it together. It feels like mine but I have to remind myself it belongs to the Uni. I'm very proud and protective of it.
450 cases of type. Columbian press, Littlejohn proof press, Western proof press, FAG Swiss proof press. Two Farley hand presses and a Wohlenberg 92 cm guillotine.

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

Paul: Our cylinder proof presses all have the same bed dimensions. I would like to swap one for a press with a larger bed.
Anita: To own it.

When and where are you the happiest?

Paul: Working with the type and a cup of tea. Eating with friends and a glass or two of wine.
Anita: Anywhere drinking coffee or sipping wine with Paul – preferably in the sun.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

Paul: No wine or coffee in the house and the shops have closed.
Anita: Being busy achieving urgent things but not spending time enjoying the important ones.

What do you think is useful about what you make?

Paul: For me it's not the thing you make, it's the conversations and the interactions you have while making. The smiles on faces when they enter and discover the workshop.
Anita: I don’t think it needs to be useful – but I like creating something that can stir a positive feeling in someone. I guess that’s a useful thing in itself.

What’s your day job?

Paul: Teaching University students how to work with Letterpress – just how cool is that.
Anita: Looking after Paul. But I also manage to squeeze in leading art workshops and working in the Art and Design department of a Secondary School.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

Paul: Used to print by Offset Lithography, might take up lino cut.
Anita: Screen printing, painting, collage, stitch works and ceramics...