A Day With Letterpress Printer Tom Boulton and the Lomo'Instant Automat Glass


To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Lomo’Instant family we’ve sent some of our instant cameras off on their own adventures. In this article series, a selection of LomoAmigos take us into their unique worlds and show us a day in their lives through the magic of instant photography. Today we’re spending a day with UK-based printer and designer Tom Boulton and the Lomo'Instant Automat Glass.

Type Tom is a letterpress printing studio that uses specialist printing machines from the 1800s and a collection of antique wooden typefaces to create bold posters and cards with a unique analogue touch.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

The following words are written by Tom Boulton.

The day starts with the school run! Getting my 7-year-old daughter through the school gates at the prescribed time is the first negotiation of the day. The short walk with talk of sports week and the Lion king play soon ends and its back home.

Now in the garden, aiming for a quiet 10 mins with a good coffee. Without coffee I am pretty useless and it is my only real vice. Coffee finished, onto checking emails and reviewing priorities. I have been working, designing and printing with Letterpress in different guises for the last 20ish years. Whilst I like to try and ignore the real world as much as possible and allow myself time to be absorbed fully by the creative process of my craft, sadly the real-world demands sending out quotes, doing paperwork, costing materials and generally thinking about a lot of very boring and sometimes stressful stuff.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

Boring stuff all done, onto the workshop. I moved to the south coast of England from London about 15 years ago and I love my short journey to my workshop along the seafront, today sadly I am a little pushed for time so I take the car, leaving the bike in the garage with a flat tyre.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

Into the workshop, turning on the lights to be welcomed by my collection of printing presses dating back to around the 1880s with some of my collection of wood and lead type left out from the previous day. The workshop has a great old stuff mixed with oil-based ink smell that people always comment on when coming to the workshop. I start my time in the workshop remembering that there was a slightly strange clonk noise the previous day on one the printing presses. So, it’s out with the oil can, giving all the machines a quick once over and a good oiling. Finding nothing wrong I start to focus on the fact that I have people coming to the workshop the next day to take part in one of my ‘have a go get printing’ workshops.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

Alongside my standard practice of making my own line of products (greetings cards, poster prints, notebooks and general stationery items) and printing custom jobs for clients, my true passion is designing and creating artwork. Workshops have been a way to interact and pass on the experience and knowledge of letterpress to others who otherwise may not be able to experience the craft in a hands-on way. Workshops are hands on and the attendees after a couple of practical challenges get to print their own chosen designs to take home with them – so the workshop needs to be tidy and I need to have plenty of paper cut to the right size. I run monthly workshops that anyone can book a spot on via my website. I find running workshops really interesting to see others interact and use the type and printing presses, often for the first time.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

Putting all the type cases (trays of type) away and making the workshop look spick and span, I move onto mixing ink for a custom print run, testing the ink pulling prints as I go to get just the right mix of each color. After a nice quantity of ink is mixed of each color needed, I have a quick and much needed sandwich. I now need to do some pictures of new print work to update my website with – and of course the all important social media channels, once again making a mess in the workshop.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

I am now down to the last hour before I must dash back to the school for collection. I use this one hour for one of my passion projects! I have found over the years that to enjoy and feel passion for what you do it really helps to do something that you really love and believe in, even if it is not really that sensible or practical. For me this has always been about future proofing Letterpress not just for myself but for others, so the craft does not die out. This currently finds me making my own wood type. Planning down and sanding is a slow and physical process. Preparing the timber for finishing and then cutting – I am working with CNC and 3D printers currently to create weird and wonderful things, and complete otherwise incomplete sets of type and fonts.

Photo credits: Tom Boulton

Time is up. My phone alarm sounds and it is time for the school run. Getting there with 10 mins to spare I sit and play Zelda on the Nintendo Switch in the sun, collect the child, then head to the beach with my wife for a well-earned ice cream and a walk. I see out the day doing some writing for a commission I took at the beginning of the year – to write a book on printing.

To see more of Tom's latest work visit his Instagram page.

2024-06-28 #news #graphic-design #letterpress #lomo-instant-glass #type-tom

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