The 2013 Catlin Guide features a selection of 40 recent graduates to watch: and we are proud to say that once more we were tasked with printing the beautifully boxed book. Here we meet one of the artists: New Sensations shortlisted RCA graduate Steven Allan, a Scottish painter who specialises in anthropomorphic depictions of everyday objects.
Steven Allan – There’s Always Time for Tea.
Has being Scottish and your subsequent move to london informed your work? and if so in what way?
I wouldn’t say that being Scottish has had an overriding influence on my paintings, but my roots have certainly influenced the black humor that is evident in most of my work.
Why do you think you focus on a confusing and tragic landscape? Any particularly sad stories in your past that have made you this way?!
I don’t think my paintings are necessarily just tragic or confusing – but they can often be interpreted that way. I think there are many less obvious things at play as well. Like Hogarth, I am interested in the tragicomedy aspect of humanity. I want to depict real life situations but obscure and twist them around to both bend and underline their meanings.
Steven Allan – One Off The Bunch.
Objects such as bananas and snails are a feature of your art – what draws you to these most curious and disparate of subjects?
I don’t tend to dwell on why I paint this, or why I paint that but If pushed for an answer I guess I Identify in some way with these kind of ridiculous objects. I look at a banana in the fruit bowl, browning, overripe. It’s such a sad image to me – the last banana that no one has gotten round to eating – destined for the bin. It can say a lot about where your heads at to be painting a version of yourself into such an object. The snail I don’t paint so much anymore. Most images are a passing phase. They completely captivate me at the time but at some point I’ll move onto the next image that captures my imagination. With the snail paintings I was just interested by this slimy little creature that carried its house on its back. How I choose an object is pretty much that simple –its really just about my desire to visualize that subject in my paintings.
Steven Allan – Stains Of A Decade.
Subversion is a key element of your artworks – any future subversive ideas that you would like to work on?
Currently I am working on a hybrid painting, which involves two very disparate images that visually seem to fit together. I came across this really odd photograph of a gimp in a pvc balloon suit and then thought about coupling it with something else I’ve been looking at a lot lately – Bertie Basset of the famous liquorish allsorts. As a child I always though there was something quite scary about Bertie Basset. He’s supposed to be approachable and sweet but he’s his strange anthropomorphic figure with a liquorish black hole for a face. Taking Bertie’s head and putting it on an inflatable gimp suit just seemed to be more in spirit with what he was all about in the first place so I decided to make a painting about it.
Steven Allan – The Faithful Companion.
What is your work process? (using materials and in the studio)
Well for me it’s a really intuitive, complex process and it can take a long time. I use alot of unconventional tools I find in diy shops and of course an array of paint brushes and palette knives. I’m always on the look out for different objects that I can manipulate paint with. I also use allot of paint mediums, depending on what effect I’m after. Some give the paint a matt finish, some a gloss, some thicken paint and other speed up drying time. It all really depends on each individual painting.
Steven Allan – We’re All In This Together.
How has being part of the Catlin Guide aided your career and what do you hope for in the future?
Being part of the Catlin Guide so far has been a great experience. I was surprised to see an image of my painting in the Guardian and also get a quick review. I am also going to be putting work in the London Art Fair which will be featured in the Catlin Guide’s stand so I’m looking forward to that. All in all it’s been a great experience so far and I am extremely thankful to Justin Hammond who had the belief in my work to give me this great opportunity to get my work out to a wider audience.
He that’s born to be hanged will never be drowned.
Geoff Litherland – I Knew it Would Come to This (The Old Horizon).
Also check out the work of Geoff Litherland, who creates abstract landscape collages that tap into our current obsession with other worlds. To find out more about the selection process read our interview with Art Catlin founder and curator Justin Hammond.
The Catlin Guide 2013: New Artists in the UK is launched at the London Art Fair 2013, 16 – 20 January. It will also be available from Amazon, Culture Label and selected book sellers (£12.99).
We couldn’t talk about it before the event but now we are pleased to blog about our involvement with producing the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant official brochure. Principal Colour printed the programme that you see being held by Boris Johnson and the Queen's aide, and which was read by thousands of people who flocked to the Thames to celebrate the Jubilee just over a week ago.
We printed the brochure during May and June 2012. It has 72 pages of text and a 4 page cover, which is beautifully decorated with metallic blue foil. We printed the text on Robert Horne Hello Fat Matt 115gsm paper, using 250gsm weight for the cover. Inside a fold out page showcases a wonderful illustration of the boats on the Thames. The brochure is chock full of beautiful photos and interesting facts such as a history of the Thames and information about the participating boats. A total of 73,000 copies of this were produced along with 300,000 copies of a small giveaway leaflet “BIG diamond jubilee weekend knees-up”. Principal Colour produced the programme for Ian Paull at Knockout Print in Tonbridge, Kent, and it was published by St James’s House. Here’s a look at some of the pages:
Director Martin Darby says about working on the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant official brochure:
We are very proud to have produced this and even more so when you see the pictures on the television of the brochure in actual use: proud to be British and associated with the whole Jubilee. We have printed things before which we know the Queen and the Royal family will have seen and had copies of (mainly charity event programmes and that sort of thing), but this was on a totally different level. I hope she has kept a copy of the brochure on the Royal book shelf…
We’ve got some gorgeous Skype corporate branding manuals printed by Principal Colour to give away, but first, it’s down to the nitty gritty of production for a high quality print project such as this… Here our director Martin Darby describes how to produce white on white print for a Case Bound book, and how to find out what kind of binding suits what project best.
A few years ago you printed a beautiful Case Bound book for Skype - showcasing ways in which the brand identity is used. Who designed this and how did they find you to produce the book?
It was produced for Albion communications. They were recommended to us as they were looking for someone to produce this prestigious type of job.
Who received this book and what was the purpose of its production?
It is a corporate ID manual, so it was sent to anyone who was producing work (in print or otherwise) for Skype in order to ensure that the Skype brand image remains the same around the world. It is also two books in one, so if you turn it upside it is gives a brief history of Skype, so it was also given to new employees to give them the corporate line on Skype.
There is some highly specialised techniques in the production of this book - including white on white screen printing on the front cover. How did you ensure that this looked great? Any tips of the trade you can share?
White on white (and black on black) can be a very tricky beast because if you get the white to match too closely you won’t see it at all. We had to run trials with screen printing (which was the favoured route) as well as with foil blocking, to find which method worked best on this material. Generally if you are trying to achieve white on white or black on black (which we seem to do lots of) it will be done through a foil or screen process.
This book was casebound - when is this form of binding best for a project, and what are the other forms of binding are most commonly used in high quality printing? Can you give us a quick run down of the different types.
There are hundreds of different binding styles and methods but listed below are the most commonly used ones. I have listed them in order of cost – from the cheapest to the most expensive – although there are always exceptions to the rule.
Saddle-stitched. This is the most basic and most common form of binding which uses wire staples through the spine and is suitable for up to about 80pp.
Perfect binding. The text is collated and then has the spine cut off and the cover glued around it (think telephone directories) from 24pp up to 1000pp +
PUR Binding. The same as perfect binding, but uses a much stronger glue.
Thread sewn soft bound. The text sections are sewn together with thread to form a book block (this is an untrimmed block of text). This then has the cover wrapped around and glued onto the “book block”.
Paper over board case bound. The book is sewn in the same way as above, but then has endpapers (an extra 4pp section) glued onto the first and last page, a printed cover is wrapped around a greyboard and then glued to the endpapers (think Dandy and Beano summer specials)
Cloth case bound. Exactly as paper over board, except the paper is replaced with an imitation cloth, either real cloth or leather. This is quite commonly done with a separate dust jacket wrapped around it for protection (think Skype book and all those old library books).
Finally, you have some copies of the Skype manual to give away, who do you think would appreciate this book?
I think anyone who likes something a bit more unusual (or an addition to their book shelf) would appreciate a copy of this.
We also think that anyone who is interested in branding and graphic design would treasure this Skype book, as it’s full of interesting insider knowledge. Get in touch with Martin (via email) to secure your copy before he gives them all away!
Draft Magazine issue 005, featuring Brangelina by Jon Kessler
Martin Darby explains how Principal Colour set about printing a high quality project such as Draft Magazine. Which just so happens to be our latest giveaway: read on to find out how you can secure your copy of this rare magazine.
Draft is a beautiful high quality art and photography magazine that you printed between 2005 - 2008. It’s aim was to publish previously unprinted work by emerging art practitioners, and it features stunning photographic and illustrative artworks. How did you make sure that these were beautifully presented in print? What techniques do you as a printer have at your disposal to ensure the best quality image representation?
We look at the type of pictures that are required for a particular job and then recommend a screen value (the number of dots per inch) that will produce the best result. We are also able to change the plate output (people would refer to this as a curve) depending on what kind of paper is being used. To give an example, for a job to sell houses at auction the reproduction of the houses might not be the most important aspect of printing - it’s more important to print the job quickly. On the other hand we recently produced a poster for the Tate Gallery which had three stages of retouching (that’s adjusting the colour) to make sure the images were as close to the original as possible. We always cater for the individual requirements of each customer.
Ladybird books by Chris Brooks.
Photography by David Spero.
You used Fedrigoni papers in the printing of Draft Magazine. When high quality papers are used for a project how much of an advisory role does Principal Colour take on, and how do you steer a project in the right direction? Or do most designers come to you with an already firm idea of what they would like to use?
It’s a bit of a mix really – some people have a strong idea of what they want, and some people rely on our expertise to advise them about what would work best. We will always suggest suitable papers for particular job types, for instance the job selling house at auction might require a quick turnaround and minimal outlay – so the job would be printed on a standard silk paper which gives good colour reproduction for a good price. However our recent Tate Gallery job was printed on a top of the range triple coated silk (it literally had three stages of coating) because the accuracy of colour reproduction was far more important than the price of the paper.
Artwork by Anthony Burrill.
Nursing Home by Jim Goldberg.
Photography by Matt Burgess.
Unfortunately Draft is no longer in print - did you notice a big drop off in the printing of this kind of publication during the recession? And how has business picked up since then - what kind of publications are you currently printing, and have their print processes or paper stock options changed in that time to accommodate different finances?
We are printing lots of interesting things at the moment but are awaiting permission to talk about them, so watch this space! 2008 was a massive shock to the print industry and we are still struggling to recover (although we are very happy to be busy at the moment). Since that period designers and customers have generally moved away from specifying particular paper stock in favour of the cheapest approach. I am glad to say that this appears to be changing again, so hopefully this is a sign of green shoots in both our trade and industry as a whole.
Photography by Evan Brownstein.
Principal Colour have 50 copies of Draft Magazine issue 005 (produced during A/W 2007/08) to give away, each originally worth £15. It’s a beautiful feast for the eyes, so why not drop Martin an email to secure your copy?
Draft Magazine is276 x 216mm in size, with 112pp of text printed on Arcoprint 135gsm and cover printed on Splendorgel extra white 340gsm, both available from Fedrigoni. Printed in 4 colours process throughout. Binding is thread sewn with the cover drawn on.
In the first of a couple of blogs we discuss some of director Martin Darby's favourite print projects with Principal Colour - which are available as giveaways to interested readers of this website. First up the Shepherd Neame brewery’s Bottle of Britain Campaign.
So, Martin, tell us all about the accompanying booklet that you have produced to go with this long running advertising campaign….
It gives a brief description of the Bottle of Britain Campaign for Spitfire Ale – which most people will be familiar with - documenting the famous, successful TV and poster campaign. It also shows pictures of adverts that never quite made it (some of those I suspect due to advertising standards). It is sold in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund and for each copy we give away we will donate £5 to the fund (as this was the original price of the book).
Which is your favourite advert?
As a big football fan my favourite advert uses the tagline Looks like our boys have crippled another German sub, accompanied with a picture of a German football player.
This is one of your favourite print projects, why do you think it was such a successful campaign?
A lot of work we do here is for galleries, museums and other very colour critical work. This is not one of them - the reason I love it is it makes me laugh. The success of the campaign has been to play on the idea that every Englishman hates Germany (and France). We all know this is not actually true – but we still find it fun to take the mickey out of them and our past.
What were the technical specifications of producing the booklet?
We started this back in 2005 (MK1) and have produced in total over 30,000 copies (now on MK11, which has reprinted 5 times). The job is 60pp of text in A5 landscape format, printed in 4 colours throughout onto a 130gsm silk with a 250gsm cover. It has a plastic gloss lamination on the outer cover.
To get hold of your very own copy of this delightful booklet and ensure a donation to a very worthy cause, contact Martin here. He only has 50 to give away so be fast!
Creative design agency One Big Company designed the new S/S 2012 look book for Liam Gallagher's clothing brand Pretty Green, which was then printed by Principal Colour in Kent. This beautifully made object was inspired by record sleeves and features stunning photography shot on London’s Hampstead Heath. We caught up with designer Dave Uprichard to find out what goes into putting a look book together.
Your most recent project has been the creation of a look book for Liam Gallagher’s clothing company Pretty Green. How did the collaboration come about?
Myself, Matt and Neil (the other members of the One Big Company team) were contacted by a former colleague from our time at Ted Baker who now designs the collections for Pretty Green.
Have you worked on the design of many look books over the years?
Yes indeed, working at Ted Baker they were one of the bi-annually repeated projects we looked forward to most and as a bonus towards the end of my time there they started creating a High Summer mini-lookbook too so I got to turn my hand to that as well.
One of Dave’s Ted Baker look books (also printed by Principal Colour).
What do you think sets the Pretty Green collection apart from other fashion collections for men?
Apart from the inherent sense of cool which comes through its associations with Liam Gallagher and the best bits of the British music scene what’s great about Pretty Green compared to other fashion collections is that each season is different - obviously your staples are still there but there’s no taking the best selling styles from previous collections, adding a different button or pocket to it and rolling out something which is 99% the same as last year.
What inspired the design of the look book?
It’s inspired by the British music scene of the 60s & 70s, the format is a 12” with a black slipcase to echo a record sleeve and then all the shots have been graded to give an aged analogue feel. There’s no digital crispness with this book, we wanted it to look raw.
The sleeve was die-cut and foiled.
How did you choose the materials and print production techniques for your look book?
Firstly the paper stock had to be uncoated to be in keeping with the grading we’d added to the photography, we knew this would darken up any imagery so that had to be taken into account when printing. We picked Challenger Offset by Antalis McNaughton for this. Other than that it was a case of picking a great black stock for the cover and slipcase (Colorset by Fenner Paper) and ensuring that the foiling of the logos was of the highest quality. We haven’t been let down!
You’ve clocked up 10 years in the print design industry - what have your design highlights been?
The biggest highlight would be breaking free of corporate shackles and setting up with Matt & Neil, maybe not a design highlight but a highlight of my design career! Other than that, it’s hard to say… I’ve worked with so many great clients and brands from MTV to Ted Baker to Pretty Green. Can I just say that the past 10 years have been a highlight?
Where did you work before setting up One Trick Pony? And what skills did you learn at each different place?
I started at a boutique creative agency called Point Blank which was lead by Steve Wallington, it was the perfect place to cut my teeth as everyone had input into creative briefs - the ethos of PB was that a great idea was a great idea no matter whether it came from the Creative Director, Junior Designer or company accountant! After that I went in-house in fashion, working at Ted Baker for just over three years. Then I took a foray into retail design with Portland Associates before setting up One Trick Pony with Matt Bishop and ultimately One Big Company with Matt & Neil.
Aldgate Lofts property brochure - produced for BMOR
What prompted you to start out on your own?
Without wanting to sound bitter it was getting made redundant for the third time! Admittedly Matt and myself had been freelancing for a year or so as One Trick Pony before my employment was cut short and it couldn’t have happened at a better time as Neil had just approached us with a very exciting offer of a monthly retainer from a fairly sizeable property client so everything fell into place perfectly.
Aldgate Lofts property brochure - produced for BMOR
One Trick Pony is about to become One Big Company - what’s the difference?
Pretty much the name is the only difference. Matt, Neil and myself (the three directors of One Big Company) have been working as a creative collective for the past two years now, under the separate guises of One Trick Pony and O’Dear. We decided that it was time we admitted our mutual love for one another by creating a new partnership, plus it makes it a lot easier knowing how to answer the phone when there’s only one company in an office!
During most of this time you’ve worked with Principal Colour, what is it that keeps bringing you back to Kent for your print production needs?
I think it’s just refreshing to work with a printer who has the same high standards as we do. It certainly makes life a lot easier when you know you can trust your supplier to get the job done well, supply it on time and actually let you know if there are any problems that have arisen rather than covering them up or ignoring them… am I speaking from experience with other printers I’ve used in the past? No comment!
Thanks for chatting to us Dave! Don’t forget to visit the One Big Company website to see more of his stunning design work.
London Fashion Week kicks off next week, so it’s only fitting that this week we are working on the print production of the new lookbook for Liam Gallagher's clothing label Pretty Green. Here’s a quick sneak peak of the running sheets - as you can see it features some beautiful atmospheric photography. We’ll be sharing the full look book soon, alongside a Q&A with designer Dave Uprichard of One Big Company, so stay tuned!
This month we have been delighted to print an anniversary photo book for the Catholic aid agency CAFOD – 50 Years, 50 Voices - which marks 50 years of the charity’s work, bringing ‘hope, compassion and solidarity to poor communities, standing side by side with them to end poverty and injustice.' CAFOD works with people of all faiths or none in more than 40 countries across the world, with the aim of achieving ‘a safe, sustainable and peaceful world.’
Some sheet pages from the book, ready to be bound.
The book has been produced as a thankyou to all CAFOD's supporters, and features beautiful quality printing that ensures the excellent photography looks fantastic.
Checking that the print quality is superb on the light box
Technical specs: We used 250gsm Revive 100 White Silk for the cover, and the text is printed on 130gsm Revive 100 White Silk. This is a 100% de-inked post consumer recycled waste silk paper from Robert Horne, which ensures superb printing quality. This is an FSC certified paper that has been bleached using a totally chlorine free process.
We are very pleased to announce that we have just printed the highly collectible The Catlin Guide for 2012: the premiere place to discover the best new graduate artists from across the UK. We decided to quiz curator Justin Hammond on the history of The Catlin Guide. Read on to find out more!
You are about to launch the 2012 edition of The Catlin Guide at the London Art Fair, between the 18th - 22nd of January at the Business Design Centre in Islington. What can people expect?
Due to the financial implications of most art fairs, galleries tend to pack out their stands with large and expensive statement pieces. So I’m going to do the opposite and curate a show of small scale drawings, photography and works on paper. I’ve asked artists like Gabriella Boyd & Tom Howse to make very small paintings. I’m showing eleven artists from the Guide - a real mixture - and for most of them it’s the first time they’ve shown in that kind of environment. We’ll also be giving away copies of The Catlin Guide, of course.
Dark Green Fritillery on Wildlife Attracting Mix, installation by Alison Stolwood.
You’ve picked 40 graduates for inclusion in the guide: what criteria determines who you pick, and what are you looking for?
Potential is the key criteria. I’m looking for artists with the ability and desire to progress and really make their mark in the art world over a prolonged period. Ultimately, I choose the final 40 artists but a big part of the initial long-list is made up of recommendations from course tutors, curators, collectors, gallerists, artists, critics and bloggers.
Twofold Interleaf by Rowena Hughes.
What is your background?
I studied Art History in Manchester in the early 90’s, but didn’t open my first space in Hackney until 2005. Along with my brother, I ran MLIA in Broadway Market for a couple of years showing new grads and generally making it up as we went along. That was when I decided to start the prize and Catlin came on board as the sponsors almost immediately. The first year was held at the now defunct Ada Street Gallery with a first prize of £1000.
Portrait of the artist on vacation and the door opening for a Byronic Hero by Hannah Harkes.
How do you support the up and coming artists that you choose, so that their career gets off to the best start it can?
The Catlin Guide functions as an index; a bang-up-to-date ‘who’s who’ of the new wave in contemporary art, and that’s a great platform. If the Guide can help to facilitate exhibition opportunities or encourage interest from galleries and collectors, then I see it as a success. Last year, the winner of the Catlin Art Prize was awarded £5,000, while Catlin bought work by participating artists and commissioned two new pieces for their collection, so there’s financial support too.
Catlin Art Prize 2008 at LSO St. Luke’s
How is The Catlin Guide related to the Catlin Art Prize, and how do they work alongside each other?
In a way, they’re quite separate. The Catlin Art Prize came first and The Catlin Guide was initially a supplement to that and a way of documenting the shortlisting process. Now, I think The Catlin Guide has taken on its own identity and individual worth. All artists for the Prize are selected from the book, but there’s a gap of four months between publication and exhibition, so The Guide has its own lifespan.
Victoria Matkin's 'Ladies in Waiting' - Catlin Art Prize 2010 at Village Underground
What are your particular hot tips from the current batch of featured artists in the guide?
All 40 artists are in with a shout, but some are already streets ahead in terms of attention and publicity. The press will always focus on new grads from the Royal College of Art or other major schools, so I’m going to pick out Mandy Barker from De Montfort University and Hannah Harkes from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. I like the way that both artists are forging their own paths. Neither is primarily concerned with producing commercial work, but what they make is very desirable. Hannah is on a residency in Tallinn and has just sent me through a fantastic new piece called Desert Picnic Imposter. I’ll be showing it at the launch.
What has happened with previous artists that were featured? Have they gone onto great things, if so what?
The Catlin Guide is only three years old, but lots of artists have gone on to feature in high-profile exhibitions in the UK and abroad. Leah Capaldi and Joshua Bilton from the 2011 Guide have just finished showing as part of Bloomberg New Contemporaries and Noemie Goudal has been selected for Out of Focus: Photography, at the Saatchi Gallery in May. But I’m taking a long-term view; it’s all about what happens over the next decade or more.
Untitled by Ali Kazim.
How is the guide itself produced and how do you ensure that it is a desirable object destined for collectibility?
The slipcase makes The Catlin Guide very expensive to produce but we’re not looking to make a profit or even recoup the production costs. We print a limited number so that all adds to its collectibility. The first edition has sold out and there are just a few of the 2011 edition remaining. OK, here’s the technical stuff: For the slipcase we’ve used Lockwood Green 135gsm from the GF Smith Colorplan range. The Guide itself is printed onto 170gsm Munken Polar. All the paper products are FSC certified. There are 128 pages.
Mossy Lichens by Tom Howse.
Why did you decide to print your guide with Principal Colour? Was it important to use a printer based in the UK and if so why?
Catlin came across Principal Colour and we were impressed with their green credentials. Printing abroad was not an option due to the tight deadlines. It’s imperative that the information in the Guide is as relevant as possible, so we sign off in the week leading up to Christmas and publish in mid January. Principal Colour were prepared to go in and work on The Catlin Guide over the Christmas break.
Tom Howse at work.
Who designs the guide and what kind of art direction are they given?
The original design and identity were conceived by the guys at Yes Studio. I liked a lot of the previous stuff they’d done and I was after a very minimal design; I wanted the Guide to be an art object in its own right. Yes Studio were working with Peter Saville at the time so it was a perfect match.
Moje Sabz by Soheila Sokhanvari.
What do you do when are you not curating The Catlin Guide? Any other exciting projects in the pipeline?
I’m actually trying to work less… and failing. I’ve been doing lots of writing and I also published a book of Alex Ball's paintings. The last couple of years have been non-stop but it's hard to turn down an interesting project. At the moment, I'm enjoying not having the burden of a permanent gallery, but that could change. I've curated a few pop-up shows and I'm always on the look out for original and exciting spaces.
Pools from the Plane by Sophie Percival.
Any last tips for aspiring artists who want to be featured in The Catlin Guide? What should they do if they are still working towards their graduation?
Presenting a strong degree show is vital. It’s a shop window. My personal bugbear is film or installation artists not bothering to turn up and switch on their equipment. A waste of everyone’s time.
Want to know more? Make sure you check out The Catlin Guide for 2012 at the London Art Fair between the 18th - 22nd of January at the Business Design Centre.
Eagle eyed readers of our tumblr feed will remember that we worked on the BBC Children in Need photo album to accompany the BBC Christmas advert. There was only one copy of the book made, which is to be sold for charity (Children in Need). This is your only chance to see the beautiful inside of the book unless you win it at auction! We especially urge you to check out the polaroid pics with beautiful calligraphic lettering. It was a wonderful bespoke project to work on for a good cause!
Here is the photo album in production at Principal Colour and here is the almost finished item in previous blog posts. The book was designed by TAG UK. Take a peek at all the lurverly featured celebs inside…