Category Archives: Theory

CMYK RGB HEX PMS? Colour Spaces and Printmaking

This post briefly introduces the two colour modes CMYK and RGB before moving on to the Pantone Matching System. It will then touch on mixing colours in the printmaking and letterpress workshops at LCC. It is meant as a small guide to help you decide when to use which colour mode and how to go about mixing the perfect shade in a print workshop.

Graph showing additive colour mixing on the left: Overlapping circle of blue, red and green. The overlaps are cyan, magenta, yellow and white. On the right, subtractive colour mixing: three overlapping circles in cyan, magenta and yellow. The overlaps form green, red, blue and black.

RGB is an additive colour space. The overlap of its three primary colours, Red, Green and Blue, results in white. This is because the RGB model is based on three light rays which are projected onto a surface.

CMYK, on the other hand, is a subtractive colour space. The combination of its primary colours, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, results in ‘black’ – or rather, a dark, muddy brown. The K in CMYK stands for Key, referring to the key colour or plate.

On Screen

A monitor or TV screen generates three colors of light: red, green and blue. The different colors we see are due to different combinations and intensities of these three primary colors. This means that RGB is used for anything displayed on a screen, so if you are preparing images and colours for websites, they should be in this mode. It has the added benefit of reducing your file size, because it contains one colour channel less. We will take a quick look at channels a little bit further down.

When you import images from your phone, camera or a scanner, they will by default be set to RGB. Most printers, including your standard home printers, can interpret RGB data. They will convert and output it as CMYK, but this will usually lead to duller colours. In order to have control over your printed output, always convert your images and files before printing – ideally while before designing! You can check and change your colour space in Adobe Photoshop under Image > Mode.

Hexadecimals, which you may have come across in web design, are basically shorthand for RGB. A hexadecimal is made up of a hashtag and six character. The first two characters stand for red, the third and fourth for green, and the last two for blue. Values range from 0-9, followed by A-F. F is the most light, while 0 represents the least: so #ffffff equals white, and #000000 equals black. 

Adobe Photoshop Colour picker showing Web Colours and a hexadecimal value of 0000ff, which is intense 100% blue.
Adobe Photoshop Colour Picker for web colours, showing #0000FF

In Print

Digital printing and offset lithographic printing predominantly use CMYK for standard four-colour printing. Modern printers like for example the HP Indigo additionally use orange, violet and white.

All visible colours are made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The four colours are printed in detailed patterns of differently sized dots to create the illusion of all colours. When you look closely you can determine the dot sizes and angles at which they are printed.

In order to achieve a real, dark black, designers and printers usually specify a rich black. This is solid black overprinted with a combination of one or all other CMYK primary colours. This can also create hues of warm and cool black.

An image in two halves, the left half shows a print of a succulent plant from an old book. The right half shows an enlarged portion of the plant image, which makes the CMYK halftone pattern visible.
A picture and close up showing CMYK halftones.
Original image from ‘200 House Plants in Colour’, first published 1968 by Zomer & Keuning. Printed offset lithography.
Activating CMYK channels in Adobe Photoshop

The distribution, size and angles of these dots matter. A standard combination of angles is Yellow at 0° or 90°, Black at 45°, Magenta at 75° and Cyan at 15°. When two colors are less than 30º apart there is a risk of moiré. There are lots of resources on the internet about different dot types and screen angles, for example on The Print Guide.

CMYK is not exclusive to digital and lithographic printing – in fact CMYK colour separations, or approximations where they are replaced with slightly or wildly different colours, are common in screen printing, risograph printing and even photo etching. 

The angles you may need for CMYK screen printing or photo etching can depend on additional factors such as your screen mesh, as the wrong angles could lead to Sawtoothing:

Four rectangular boxes of dots. The boxes are angled in increasing increments of 10°. The box on the right shows and uneven edge.
The edge of the last box shows sawtoothing. Image from The Print Guide.

Below are two pieces of work by our own specialist screen print technician Lisa Chappell. Lisa works with four-colour printing across many processes.

Small landscape image with rounded corners. The images shows a four colour photo etching of dark grounds with a sunset.
In Between (2019), photo etching, Lisa Chappell
View of the sky with clouds and sunlight and the reflection of a car. The image is the shape of a side mirror.
Road Trip (2019), screen print, Lisa Chappell

RGB in Print?

There is research into recreating RGB imagery in printmaking, for example using Spectraval pearlescent pigments by Merck Group. These are suitable for screen, gravure and flexo printing. Red, blue and green are overprinted on black to create lighter shades where they overlap.

Pantone Matching System

The Pantone Matching System is a numbering system for colours in graphic design. This system is widely used to define solid colours, for what is also knows as spot printing. In this process, a single colour is formulated rather than mixed by overprinting CMYK. 

There are plenty of reasons why you might use Pantone colours:

  • For more colour accuracy when printing, especially across different jobs, or when different printers being used
  • To define specific brand colours that can always be accurately reproduced through spot colour printing
  • Pantone allows for bright and bold, saturated colours; even neons, pastels and metallics
  • You can colour match accurately across other Pantone Systems – for example for textiles

The Pantone Formula Guides, or fans, are an international go-to reference for colour specification and verification. Each colour swatch has a specific name and recipe, which tells you the base colours it is mixed from. This is what we use in the printmaking workshops to determine how to achieve that perfect shade.

a fanned out Pantone Swatch Book showing neon colours: Pantone 809c, 810C, 811C.
Close-up of the PANTONE Pastels and Neons Swatch book showing recipes.

If you work a lot in inDesign and prepare books for print, my main tip is to set up a Preflight profile that checks for allowed colour spaces and image resolution. That way, you can check the entire document in an instant. I have one set up for print, and one for digital publishing, where only RGB is allowed. You can choose to only allow spot colours for example, if you are defining only Pantones for a print job.

Screenshot from Indesign with the Preflight panel opened
Screenshot from Indesign with Preflight Profiles opened showing a profile called Print. It specifies Color Spaces and Modes Not Allowed: RGB and LAB

Mixing Pantone colours for printmaking

When mixing colours for printing, there are several things that will affect your mix:

  • The type of inks. Oil based and water based inks will require different recipes
  • The mixing medium. in screen printing for example, this will determine the opacity of your ink
  • The printing method. How thick is your layer of ink going to be?
  • The substrate. What you are printing onto? Is it absorbent, like uncoated paper or fabric? Is it glass? Is it light or dark?
  • The lighting in the room will affect how you view colour. Remember ‘the dress’ that went viral?
  • How new is your reference Pantone swatch? If it has been exposed to light and is old, its colour will not be accurate anymore.
A grid of colour swatch tests with their respective Pantone colours.

All of these factors mean that the recipe can only get you so far. To accurately mix your colour, always mix a small amount first until you have your formula right. That way you won’t waste a lot of ink and you will be able to keep your mix simple more easily.

Keep testing as you go along. The easiest way to do this is to have a small sample of your substrate ready. Dip your little finger into the ink you have mixed and then dab it onto the substrate. Keep dabbing your finger, so the ink layer thins out, as this will represent your final outcome more closely. 

Shelves underneath the galley proofing press in letterpress, showing tins of Saphira Pantone inks.
Pantone base inks in the letterpress workshop at LCC

The letterpress workshop at LCC uses the same inks as offset lithographic printing. Our range is called Saphira by Heidelberg, and the workshop stocks all the base colours you need for mixing any Pantone shade.

The Print Guide

Print Curiosities: No.5- William Crozier

Written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht

Abstracted garden scene in bright orange, pink, yellow, green and blue.
William Crozier, ‘Garden’, Carborundum.

‘Garden’ is a limited edition print that was commissioned to accompany a special book publication about the work of William Crozier (1930-2011). William Crozier was an Irish Scottish artist that studied at The Glasgow School of Art. His work is often associated with bright colourful landscapes. In 2019, Flower’s Gallery had a retrospective of his printed works. The gallery also has a selection of paintings that you can view on their website.

The book titled ‘William Crozier’ details the artist’s work from the past fifty years of his life. It was designed to offer ‘substantial critical attention to an artist well known within the UK and Irish art worlds, and gives new insights into the still under-written history of figurative painting in Britain.’

The book contains critical texts and many colour reproductions of his work. The hardcover book is housed in a bright yellow slip case and additionally contains the limited edition print.

Book with garden print and yellow slip case.
‘William Crozier’ by Crouan, Kennedy and Vann, 2007. With limited edition print ‘Garden’ and yellow slip case

‘Garden’ is a small multiple plate print made with carborundum. Carborundum is a technique where grit is added and mixed into PVA glue. The paste is then painted directly onto the printing plate creating textured painterly marks. These marks emboss into the paper when printed. The grit is porous and can hold a lot of ink. The result is a textured print with intense colour.

‘Garden’ was made and printed at Graphic Studio Dublin with Master Printmaker Robert Russell. There were only one hundred and twenty five prints made in this edition. I love this print for the intensity, depth of colour and the amount of textured detail that is contained in such a small print. It also reminds me of my time working at Graphic Studio Dublin. Meeting the artists who collaborated with the studio was a highlight. I will always remember William Crozier for his kind and gentle manner.

Print Curiosities: No.4 – Chisato Tamabayashi

Print Curiosties: No.4 is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht

There should always be one work of art in your collection that simply invokes a feeling of joy. Pop-up book ‘Airborne’ by Chisato Tamabayashi, instantly puts a smile on my face. The book consists of six full page pop-ups, illustrating the journey of a hot air balloon. The simple narrative, bright colours, pop-up surprises and interactive sliding tabs, remind me of some of my favourite childhood picture books.

Open page of a book depicting a large group of hot air balloons, of different sizes, colour and pattern. Some of the hot air balloons are pop-up and appear to float as the stick up from the page.
Final Pop-Up Page from ‘Airborne’ by Chisato Tamabayashi. Artist’s Book.

Chisato is a paper and book artist that studied Graphic Design at London College of Printing. She also holds an MA in Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art.

Like children’s picture books, Chisato’s artworks do not contain text. In an interview in Voice (2015) she explains: ‘I believe that visual language is universal, so hopefully the narrative I’m suggesting in my work can communicate through the imagery alone or take people along on their own imaginative journeys.’

Chisato illustrates and prints every part of her books. ‘Airborne’ provides the sense of awe and satisfaction that comes from something well designed and constructed. For ‘Airborne’, Chisato screen prints all the pages and separate parts for each pop-up piece. She then carefully cuts out each element. Once this process is completed, she constructs the pages together and hand binds them into a book. Painstaking care and patience is needed in every step of the process. It is this care that translates into a delightful tactile experience by the reader.

It is important to Chisato that the reader experiences this tactility. ‘I think tactility is very important and maybe that’s why I choose a book format. To enjoy an artist book, you have to touch the book, go through it at your own pace, feel the paper, listen to the noises (sometimes my pop-up pieces make noise!) and enjoy the images.’

Read the full interview with Chisato in Voice, an online art and illustration magazine.

Follow Chisato on Instagram to see her latest work, or view her portfolio on her website.

How to Start an Art Collection

A collection of prints displayed on a table.

In response to our Print Curiosities series, you might be asking yourself ‘how can I start my own art collection?’. Starting to create a collection of artworks can be a daunting and expensive idea for many. I am a recent graduate and don’t have the funds to purchase prints from some of my favourite artists, but there are ways to start creating a collection without this pressure. So….. here are some small and easy tips of how to get involved in starting your own print collection.

Tip no. 1: Swap with friends, peers and colleagues.

Being able to swap prints, books, photographs, paintings and sculpture with friends will help to grow your collection without spending money. Whilst on my MA, I swapped a project of artist books with some of my classmates, therefore starting a small artist book collection! These books not only are beautiful, but they can be a connection to this time in your life and a great way of supporting each other.

Fellow technicians swap Christmas cards in the festive period. They aren’t huge elaborate prints, but they are still beautiful, detailed and individual pieces of art that can be framed, placed on book shelves or mantelpieces.

Front cover of two blue books.

Tip no. 2: Join a print exchange, organised by an external body.

I took part in the 20:20 print exchange in 2019, organised by Hot Bed Press, with some fellow students at the RCA. The 20:20 print exchange invites artists from print studios across the country to submit original prints. I made a joint application with some of my fellow RCA students, as we had to form a print studio to submit our work. The print has to be 20 x 20cm and in an edition of 20. This was then sent off to Hot Bed Press. In return, we were each given a box of 20 prints from other participants in the print exchange. I got prints ranging from screen prints, etchings and risograph prints. Here are some of my favourites. There is a small fee with this, but you get a lot of prints in return. This is a local print exchange in the UK, but there are many around the world.

You can find out more about Hot Bed Presses Print Exchange on their website.

Tip no. 3: Look on the instagram hashtag #artistsupportpledge.

#artistsupport pledge was created during the lockdown of summer 2020 to help support artists and makers in selling work, as a lot of people in this sector have been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is that an artist can post an image of works on Instagram to sell for less than £200. Each time an artist reaches £1000 worth of sales, they pledge to spend £200 on another artist/makers’ work. This is a great way of finding artwork through the hashtag, discovering new artists and supporting them with your purchase. You can find amazing prints for relatively inexpensive prices… a complete steal, so check it out!

You can find out more information and browse works on their website and instagram.

Screen shot of the hashtag artist support pledge, with images in a grid of artwork for sale.

Print Curiosities: No. 3 — Double Dagger

Print Curiosities: No. 3. Is selected and written by Specialist Letterpress Technician, Andrew Long.

Today I am sharing with you Double Dagger. A newspaper printed the traditional way, but it’s not what you might expect. It’s bright and colourful with amazing artwork and a focus on letterpress, unlike your typical newspaper. Every contributor includes an element of their work which makes each issue different and unique.

“The binding agent between all of our pages and contributors is a desire to print from the third-dimension, using both the tools that Gutenberg left us over 500 years ago and the tools of today such as the laser cutter. Printing using wood and lead type cannot be replicated digitally – the look, the feel, and even the smell offer an antidote to much of today’s commercial printing.”

(Loaring and Randle, 2021)

Double Dagger is a collaboration between Nick Loaring, of The Print Project, and Pat Randle, of Nomad Letterpress. The idea was formed, rather oddly, in 2013 on a sunny Somerset field. This was the first year Glastonbury festival had attempted to print their daily newspaper on a Heidelberg cylinder press using hot-metal type. The Linotype machine, which casts the hot-metal type for printing, had decided it no longer wanted to work. The newspaper was still printed on the Heidelberg, but the use of polymer plates rather than hot-metal type was the spark that started the Double Dagger conversation.

The first issue was released some 3 years later. To date they have released 3 issues, all full of letterpress goodness. Each issue is printed with lead type, none of that Polymer they had been forced to use at Glastonbury. Contributors include Stanley Donwood, Dafi Kühne, Ellen Bills and Thomas Mayo amongst many others.

You won’t be surprised to hear Nick & Pat are two of my favourite printers. Nick produces some of the most beautiful bold prints, you’ll find his work at The Print Project. Pat works out of Whittington Press and is the printer of Matrix ‘the finest periodical of the book arts of the 20th Century’. His imprint is Nomad Letterpress, where you’ll find some of the amazing books he has published.

If you want to know more about this publication check out the Double Dagger website, issue 1-2 are sold out but you could get your hands on issue 3. Follow Double Dagger on Instagram for any updates and to find out when / if they release an issue 4.

Print Curiosities – No. 2: Maev Lenaghan

Print Curiosities is back! We have expanded our series to include a variety of print and book curiosities from the personal archives across the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress Team. We have asked our technicians to delve into their collections to select, share and write about some of their favourite, special or unusual works of art.

Print Curiosities: No. 2. is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht.

Having spent nearly a decade editioning prints privately for artists and for Graphic Studio Dublin and Stoney Road Press publications, I have accumulated a good collection of printer’s proofs. Some of these prints are large colour multiple plate prints created by some of Ireland’s top established artists.

Small bear printed in grey and gold ink with hard and soft lines and a pale grey wash for texture
Maev Lenaghan, ‘Small Bear’, etching.

Today I have selected to share something a little more subtle and delicate, but equally noteworthy and special.

‘Small Bear’ is one of the most prized etchings in my collection. The print was gifted to me by artist Maev Lenaghan. Maev studied printmaking at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and holds an MFA from Konstfack in Stockholm. She currently lives and works in Sweden.

Maev is interested in narrative and storytelling across Fine Art, Illustration, Literature and Design. Her work explores our relationship and connection to wilderness, working with media such as books, drawing, painting, pastel and printmaking.

Maev is a contributor to I DO ART, an ‘independent dissemination platform for art, with a focus on personal stories and attitudes, visuality and process’.

“My artistic practice springs from ideas that are in essence narrative, that take stock of life in the face of an imperturbable wilderness.”

In 2012, Maev created a series of etchings depicting oral storyteller Clare Murphy in action on Story Night, a regular monthly community storytelling event in Galway, Ireland. These prints were exhibited as part of a solo exhibition titled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Woods?’.

She describes this show as “a peek at the richness of our interior lives, and then takes a walk to the edge of our society, in search of wilderness. As a species our strength lies in communities, in imagination and communication, and we are reminded of this amidst lively human interaction. We gather together in communities for protection, vulnerable as individuals. Most of us live removed from places where nature is still wild and foreboding. Yet even amongst those of us who have lost sight of our vulnerability beyond the societies of our making, there are yearnings for wilderness, for the great outdoors.”

Most recently Maev exhibited in The Space Gallery in Shanghai, China, with a show titled THIS BRIGHT EARTH. Another recent exhibition ROOTED IN SILENCE at Galleri LOKOMOTIV, Örnsköldsvik in the north of Sweden received an excellent review. The review is written in Swedish, but you can translate it online.

Open page of book with text on the left page. On the right page is a woodcut image that has an abstract texture and is printed in grey.
Maev Lenaghan, ‘I am a Maev, not a Moose’, artists book

“My latest work encompasses woodblock prints, linocut prints and artist books. These culminated in an exhibition in the north of Sweden which I called ROOTED IN SILENCE. There are two levels to the work: as a balancing of line, colour, emptiness and movement to create energy on the picture plane and to reflect experiences whose very nature are unspoken. Whether recalling the feelings of watching a  bonfire burn on the Swedish traditional night of ‘Valborgmässoafton’, visiting the  zen rock gardens of Japan or observing the exposed roots of trees; these are memories of being mesmerised by something. These are experiences that quiet the mind and speak to the unconscious and that I believe elicit the emotive response of stillness that you are looking for with the exhibition titled ‘Silence’.”

Detail of a small bear shows the bear's head and front paw printed in grey and gold ink. There is a combination of hard and soft line and a pale wash
Detail of ‘Small Bear’ by Maev Lenaghan.

I met Maev whilst working in Graphic Studio Dublin, one of Ireland’s oldest printmaking co-operatives.

‘Small Bear’ was created for Graphic Studio Dublin’s 50 year Anniversary exhibition titled ‘Gold’. The image is only 10cm x 10cm in size, but by looking at it closely you can see that contains a variety of beautiful line and texture that you can look at for hours. I come to it again and again and it always gives me joy as well as inspiring me to want to make etchings. This deceptively simple image contains three different etching techniques. This really demonstrates the quality and expertise of Maev’s drawing, mark making and printmaking. The etching is made of hard ground and soft ground line as well as sugar lift for a textured wash.

I chose this print not only for its beauty, and accomplished technique, but because it reminds me of the spirit of generosity in the printmaking community as well as the power of patience, subtlety and stillness and the complexity and simplicity of storytelling. You can explore more of Maev’s recent narrative works on her website and instagram.

Matching typeface and paper

When working on a project in print, you will decided on a typeface or more. This choice can depend on the overall aesthetic of a project, its historical context or any other conceptual reasons. There are endless design decisions that can influence it. The same is true for the choice of paper. Its texture and surface play an important role, and so does content. Colour photography may look more brilliant on coated stock, but uncoated paper can emphasize monochrome imagery just as well. But there is also a decision that can be made regarding the combination of type and paper.

A book spread with a page of text on yellowish paper on the left, and a monochrome image on slightly more white paper on the right.
This spread illustrates the use of two paper stocks within one book: uncoated for the main body text, and coated for plates and small, italic serifs.

Not every paper stock suits every typeface. On the contrary – often, typefaces for letterpress would have been designed to compensate for relief impression into paper. Nowadays it is rare that typefaces are designed taking this compensation into account, but optical considerations remain the same. 

Letterpress printed text detailing the font and paper it was set in
Font and paper choice in a letterpress project. Baskerville was designed in the 18th century and suits older printing presses and printmaking papers well.

One way to go is to group old with old, and modern with modern, based on historical usage:

“(…) that Transitionals and Didone groups of ‘moderns’ are best printed on the calendered surfaces which were developed to show off their elegance when they were first designed during the 18th century; and that art paper is not generally suitable for highly refined Didone faces because it accentuates the stroke contrast of these ‘moderns’, producing an effect of ‘dazzle’ which reduces their legibility.” (Warford, 1971) It is also worthy to note that some typefaces were only designed when more modern, precise printing presses were available. In the example of Didot, its very fine hairline strokes are prone to crack when printing is not done very carefully without any excess pressure.

The book cloth covering of a vinyl sleeve was printed with wood type or a plate, whereas an additional label was printed from metal type.

Letterpress is meant to be printed with a ‘kiss impression’, which means there is no actual relief impression left in the paper. An uneven surface will not result in an even, flat print. This includes uncoated paper, printmaking and handmade papers as well as book cloth. On those surfaces, small type and thin strokes will vanish. Bolder, larger sizes are more forgiving. Plates are often more suitable as a slightly stronger impression will leave a more even ink coverage, but would potentially damage type. Even with those materials, details will blur and larger, bolder type will bring better results.

Sources and further reading:

Design for Print Production
H. S. Warford
London Focal Press (1971)
Available at the LCC Library

Lost words of letterpress

A2 Letterpress printed poster of printing terms
Lost words of Fleet Street, Mick Clayton and Catherine Dixon, Printed at St Bride, 2019

For those of you who have been introduced to letterpress, you will be aware of the many confusing terms we use in the workshop. I’m sure you’ve already forgotten what a Quoin is. Well, let me confuse you further.

I am fortunate enough to work alongside others at St Bride Foundation who worked in letterpress when it was a larger part of the printing industry. One of the things I love about my role at St Bride is the wealth of letterpress history that I am taught through my colleagues. They’re constantly reminiscing about the good old days, in specific, the ‘words’ they used to use whilst on the job as seen below:

A.B.P. — anything but print (a lazy person)

Bang Out — celebration of retirement or conclusion of apprenticeship

K.D. — A private job (keep dark)

Knowing Your Boxes — Being aware of what you are doing or talking about

N.F. — a companion who hears or observes something intended for them and ignores it (no fly)

On the Coach — Not speaking to someone

Out of Sorts — running out of the type you need

Pieing Your Case — accidentally mixing the type so that they have to be sorted out

Putting up the Half-Double — ending a conversation on a particular subject

Quire — twenty-five copies / sheets of the same paper

Space Up — an argument

Stop Press — a small stereo added to a blank column, for breaking news while printing

Wrong Fount — a suspicious character

If you are interested in printing history, LCC archive have a fantastic collection linking back to its time at St Bride Foundation. St Bride Library holds one of the world’s most significant collections of books about printing. As well as many physical objects available for viewing, but not until the pandemic restrictions allow. Until then, please stay tuned for the next letterpress post and stay safe and well.

In the mean time, why not watch this short film Banging Out — Fleet Street Remembered a documentary film based on oral history interviews with former printers and journalists.


Mick Clayton and Catherine Dixon, Lost Words of Fleet Street, A2 Letterpress Poster part of the Collections and Collaborations event held on 14 May 2019 as a visual celebration of the St Bride Library. Available at St Bride.

Rowles, G., 1949. The ‘Line’ Is On. London: London Society of Compositors, pp.101-103.

Print Curiosities – No. 1: Paul Peter Piech

By Richard Roberts

Over the coming weeks I’ll be picking out and writing about a variety of print curiosities from my own collection. This post will focus on a Linocut print by Paul Peter Piech, (pronounced Peach), ‘When I Give Food To The Poor They Call Me A Saint, When I Ask Why The Poor Have No Food, They Call Me A Communist’. The Dom Hélder Câmara referred to in the print was a Brazilian Catholic Archbishop who was critical of the military regime of the time.

A framed Linocut print by Paul Peter Piech 1987
Signed Linocut Print – Paul Peter Piech – 1987

Piech (1920-1996) was a prolific printmaker and self-publisher who started out as a graphic designer. He founded his own imprint, Taurus Press, whose purpose, in his own words, was “to stimulate interest in and concern for humanity as a whole. I want to publish only work which I feel does this.” (V&A Archive)

Interestingly, he has a connection to LCC, teaching at the original London College of Printing for a time. In 2013 Four Corners Books, in association with the V&A, published The Graphic World of Paul Peter Piech which reproduced over 120 prints drawn from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the University of Reading. This book and other Taurus Press publications are held in the LCC Library.

The book cover of The Graphic World of Paul Peter Piech by Four Corners Books.
Four Corners Books – V&A Publishing

In 2016, The People’s History Museum in Manchester staged an exhibition entitled: Dedicated to all Defenders of Human Freedoms: The Art of Paul Peter Piech. A lot of his posters really resonate in these turbulent times so if you haven’t already, go and check him out. Even better, if you feel inspired, how about picking up a V gauge yourself and giving Lino-cutting a go. Go on, you know you want to! On that cheesy note I’ll sign off. Bye for now.

The Architecture of a Book

“The book is an intimate communicator, revealing its secrets to those willing to move its pages and interpret its signs”
Anne-Catherine fallen, “In Context – Contemporary Artists’ Books and their Antecedents

The image is showing icons of a book, explaining its architecture
Terminologies of a book

book — A portable container consisting of a series of printed and bound pages that preserves, announces, expounds, and transmits knowledge to a literate readership across time and space.

codex — The physical form of Western books, i.e., printed leaves open at the right and bound together at the back edge.

cover — Thick paper or board that attaches to and protects the book block.

dust jacket — A protective paper sleeve around the cover of a book.

endpaper — The leaves of paper that are glued to the front- and backboards of a hardback book to strengthen the joint between the boards and the book block. They are often decorative.

french fold — A method of binding whereby a sheet of paper is folded in half and the open ends are bound into the spine so that the fold forms the fore-edge of the book.

fore edge — The outer vertical, trimmed edge of a book, opposite the spine.

head — The top of the book

hinge — A fold in the endpaper between the pastedown and the flyleaf

recto/verso — The two sides of a leaf in a codex. Recto is the right-hand, verso is the back of that same leaf, not the page facing to recto.

spine — Section of book cover that covers the bound edge. 

tail — The bottom of the book

For more details on book terminologies and book structures you can order a free copy of: Size|Format|Stock by emailing It is a booklet that was written by Justin Hobson from Fenner Papers in collaboration with Zoë Bather at Studio8. A great reference book for graphic designers and book makers.

Reference on the above terminology and further reading can be found here:
Fawcett-Tang, R. New Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2004
Haslam, A. Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2006
Smith, K. A. Structure of the Visual Book. New York: Keith Smith BOOKS, 2002
Stanley, R. Book Design, Systematic Aspects. New York & London: R. R. Bowker Company, 1979

Watch the Anatomy of a Book a short film by the New Yorker in which, antiquarian booksellers reel off the special language they use to catalogue a book’s condition and describe the methods for fixing its faults: