Magazine for Culture and Design
The Counter Press
Ben Rider

The Counter Press is a quite unique design studio. Can you tell me how it all came together?

The Counter Press had very humble origins. David and I are both graphic designers and we work a lot in agencies on corporate branding. As with many people, we got an itch to explore something creative outside of working on a Mac. And so we took a short letterpress course with Kelvyn Smith which inspired us to continue with letterpress printing somehow. This began with a small platen press in a sorry state and a very small amount of type. One press led to another, and another, and more type was bought. Before too long we both had too much equipment to keep in both our homes. And so a workshop was needed which meant more space to fill with more presses, more type. And slowly but surely the press has grown to where we are today, allowing us to create both personal work and also client work using traditional techniques in a contemporary way.

What is your background in terms of design education?

We both studied graphic design at university, David at Staffordshire University and I studied at Edinburgh College of Art.

Where does your fascination for analogue workflows originate?

We like the physicality that wood and metal type bring to the design process. Holding the type in your hands, moving it around piece by piece, building up a composition bit by bit is both challenging and satisfying. You feel a greater connection with the design and the output. By using the traditional letterpress printing techniques we feel the work is more crafted and thoughtful, but we always aim to steer away from nostalgia in what we do.

Can you describe your creative process when you start a new project?

Everything must start with an idea. We often sit in the pub discussing thoughts or sketching things out in pencil. We tend to avoid using a computer in our design process for our letterpress work. From here we will take our sketches into the studio and start to experiment with type. This might lead us in another direction altogether or everything might come together as we've sketched out. Then it's down to typesetting, imposition and printing, which depending on the project can take a few hours, days, weeks or, in some cases, months.

The full interview is available in the printed issue of Point of View.

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