Q&A: Nick Hand, director, The Letterpress Collective

Nick trained as a typographer and says he has loved type, ink and paper ever since. He recently completed an epic cycle ride from Bristol to Mainz in Germany on ‘the printing bike’, carrying an Adana press and all the necessary accessories, including ink and type. Postcards produced en route were sent to people who backed the project on Kickstarter.

Why did you get into printing? 

While doing a typography course in the mid-1970s, I spent a year in a room with a compositor and letterpress printer. It left its mark. A couple of years ago, someone in Bristol tweeted that the city’s last commercial letterpress printer had closed. It seemed a perfect time to collect some type and presses and start something new. The Letterpress Collective now runs day courses in learning to typeset and print on some of the brilliant old presses that we have

What would be your dream job?

I think I’ve just done it: cycling 800 miles to Mainz printing postcards on the way

What is your dream bit of kit?

Spike Island (an artists’ collective) has a lovely Vandercook proofing press. It was put there by a bit of a hero of mine, the illustrator Peter Reddick (sadly no longer with us). I’ve always yearned after that beautiful press. That, and any kind of decent guillotine. We don’t have one at all, and it would save asking many favours of print friends

What is your favourite film?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I just love that film

What is your favourite TV show?

I’m a sad cycling fan, so I sit for hours watching the Tour de France each summer

Who or what do you hate the most?

I was 22 when Mrs Thatcher came to power. I don’t like the word hate, but we will never recover from the damage that that woman did. I would love to live in a country where the NHS, state education and looking after the old and folk in need mattered, but sadly, I’m not sure that now I ever will

Who do you admire most in the industry? 

Pat Randle, printer and owner, Nomad Letterpress. Pat and his dad John are inspirational to letterpress printing

What is your favourite phrase or saying?

‘Is that a cakeshop?’

What is your favourite album?

Diamond Mine by Jon Hopkins and King Creosote

What is your greatest luxury in life?

I eat a lot of chocolate. At the moment favourite is Montezuma’s Minted. It is the best thing ever

What is the strangest job you’ve had?

When I left college I used to do all the drawings for the ends of shoeboxes for Tuf and Gluv shoes. It was good pay as well

Who would you like to be stuck on a desert island with?

My wife, Harriet, the only person that could put up with me for long periods of time

Who or what makes you laugh?

David Cameron

How would you like to be remembered?

A nice bloke who did crazy adventures on a bicycle

What was your childhood obsession?

Growing up to play football for Bristol Rovers – it still is actually


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