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Free advice on design problems, hints and tips from Hello Lovely Graphic Design, an affordable agency based in Cambridge

The Craft of Graphic Design and Print

Craft is a word I often think has been hijacked.

When I mull over this word, I conjour up a drafty marquee by a historic house with clever people selling wood turned bowls and trinkets inside. Craft also means apprenticeship and education. I have been looking for a visual representation of that for a while. Design and print are often considering as being something relatively easy by those outside these specialisms. Evening classes pop up all over the country in printmaking and quick start design, so what need is there for apprenticeships, hands-on experiences or degrees? I think this image explains the skills of craft so much better.

The metal piece in this image is a matrix, used in hot metal printing. This one was made by Monotype, manufactured from a die and you would expect to see one letter here. The matrix actually contains the full transcript of The Lord’s Prayer which is why I placed the matchstick next to it. My husband completed a 7 year apprenticeship in printing and spent time with a castors department where printing by hot-metal typesetting from a keyboard was undertaken.This piece was given to him on a visit to Monotype. Using a printers glass, it’s possible to read the entire prayer and for an extra flourish, it also contains the line Monotype Salford where it was made! There is a skill in the leading which is proportional, the text breaks are beautifully set and the spacing after the prayer and before the manufacturer name is neat and precise. 

Metal type is now a niche and not the main trade of any modern printing house. Designers rarely give metal type much thought but there is a lot to learn from the genuine craft of printing and typography as this one photo and this tiny matrix show.

 The Lord's Prayer matrix

The Lord's Prayer matrix