Killer app: Smith & Watts presents a perfect face for Exhibit A

By Max Goldbart, Monday 09 January 2017

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Artists Hugh Tisdale and Dan Murrell have not held back on their latest exhibition, Exhibit A, a show of life-sized hand-drawn masks of famous figures ranging from George Orwell to Tintin. To accompany the exhibition a catalogue was required, and for their printing needs they opted for Colchester-based 200-year-old Smith & Watts Print.

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What did you produce?

The short-run of 600 catalogues were produced over a one-week period in December, ready for collection just before Christmas to be exhibited at the Rich Mix exhibition centre in London’s Shoreditch on 6 January. Each book contains 50 images of the masks used in the exhibition. 

What did it entail?

The job required the use of family-run Smith & Watts’ Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 52. A number of proofs were initially printed on its Xerox digital press and shown to the artists before the full-run was printed. 

The books were PUR bound using a Muller Martini Pantera perfect binder and covers were matt laminated, while a number of the eyes of the masks on the front cover were drilled out by hand. Paper used was Novatech 400gsm for the cover and 200gsm for the inside pages. 

13-staff Smith & Watts uses Heidelberg machines for all its litho work, and mainly produces leaflets and brochures.

What challenges were overcome? 

Smith & Watts sales director Sam Olymbios said that the artists were specific about what they wanted and were keen to be involved with all stages of the printing process. 

“It was about trying to work with the artists to achieve the right tones that they wanted,” she said. 

“These aren’t photographs, they are hand-drawn, and the artists were very particular about how they wanted them to look. But it was all in the preparation, making sure we did the dummies, and they were happy with those.”

What was the feedback?

Tisdale, who co-founded sporting merchandiser Philosophy Football, said he was “more than satisfied” with the job.

“I’ve used Smith & Watts before and for this particular job the team have certainly come up trumps. The binding in particular was excellent,” he said.

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