Letterpress Poster Workshop

Quay Arts' Columbian or Eagle press

Quay Arts’ Columbian or Eagle press

Years back, I used to have a pottery studio at Jubilee Stores, an annexe of the Isle of Wight’s Quay Arts. It was a great place to get all mucky; throwing clay on a wheel using centuries old skills, and a material that has been exploited by humans for millennia. Pottery is a great hobby but, to be honest, there wasn’t much money in it and there’s only so many mugs you can give away as presents before your friends stop inviting you to their birthday celebrations!

Nowadays, I scratch my creative itch with my day job as a graphic designer. Colouring in against the clock is pretty rewarding creatively and, of course, I get paid to do it (mostly). But it primarily involves sitting in front of a computer, and every now and then it’s important to get up, get out and smell the… well, in this case, solvents.

'A Different Kind of Tension' lyrics poster

‘A Different Kind of Tension’ lyrics poster

The analogue skills that I have developed, such as pottery, sewing and jewellery-making, should stand me in good stead come the zombie apocalypse – if I survive the rampage and learn how to cook weeds and rabbits. Newly added to my skill-set is print-making. I’m certainly no expert in this medium, but I have attended a couple of courses run by the talented letterpress printrix Kae Carlstedt-Duke.

'Everybody's Happy Nowadays' poster

‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’ poster

Letterpress is a form of printing that uses blocks of raised type, or other media like lino cuts or woodblocks. It was the print standard from the mid-fifteenth century and, despite the prevalence of digital printing, there has been a resurgence in this heritage skill – probably instigated by typewriter-toting hipsters. When produced in a short-run artisan style, letterpress results can be pleasingly haphazard. Ink coverage can vary depending on how it’s applied, vintage type can be unevenly worn, and the paper that is used adds another variable.

'A Different Kind of Tension' lyrics poster

‘A Different Kind of Tension’ lyrics poster

One of the best things about letterpress poster making is that it’s off-the-grid, away from the robot snoopers poking through your computer activity. You can just use it to recreate anti-establishment glitter-paper flyers or a Buzzcocks‘ lyrics poster, like I did. And no one would know – that is, until you plaster the town with your work or blog about it.

'Austerity is Bogus' glitter print

‘Austerity is Bogus’ glitter print

Letterpress poster workshop at Quay Arts, £45. Keep an eye on Quay Arts website for other courses.



  • John Bradley says:

    Hi there
    I’m a letterpress printer based in London but moving to the Isle of Wight in the near future.
    In fact to Newport.
    I’d love to come and do a workshop for the day with Kae soon and would like some more details about the costs and aims of the course etc.
    If it’s possible to do that or to give me her email address I’d like to know more.

    Many thanks
    John Bradley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.