Sketchpad Artists: Textbook Studio 02 Sep

This week we would like to introduce you to Textbook Studio who have produced a limited edition cover for our Sketchpad range. Based at Islington Mill, Textbook Studio are a design team who specialise in printed materials especially editorial and publication design, for arts and culture sector clients.

We caught up with them to find out a little bit more about them.

Tell us a bit about the idea behind your sketchbook cover?

Fred Aldous Cartridge Pad A3 110gsm

We’ve done two – tools + a pigeon. With the tools cover, we started thinking about drawing some of the equipment in the studio. Some of it is pretty obvious, typical graphic designer stuff like scalpels and notebooks; but because we build and fix stuff quite a lot, putting a hammer and saw side by side with pencils and pens seemed amusing.

After that we had a laugh about pigeons eating almost anything and started wondering what they actually eat. I can’t remember why. Then we did an illustration of it.

Have you used a Risograph printer before?

Yes, we have one in our studio at Islington Mill. We co-founded Mono print collective some time last year with our friends John Powell-Jones and Dan Russell. We bought the machine to experiment with really, and to use as a means of self-publishing. It’s been fun for us to figure out, frustrating at times, but has given us the ability to print for clients and friends, which is great. We’ve learned so much, really pushed our understanding and expectation of what the machine can do (which is why its always broken – sorry Mr Riso Engineer).

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to print on a riso?

Design specifically for the process – not only thinking about how to create your artwork to make sure your design comes out how you want – but layering up different colours to make new ones, being clever with the process, embracing mistakes. Mostly its quirks are things you can plan for and control, though every now and then the machine will throw you a curveball and totally surprise you with what it does. This kind of thing and any misalignment or weird colour problems are part of the charm.

What are your specialisms?

Textbook studio1

We really like designing books whenever we can. It means a lot to us to be able to do limited editions completely in-house from start to finish. It’s a massive pain sometimes, but so worth it when you get to the end and hold a book in your hands that you’ve completely made yourself. Also if it’s in the studio, it’s your problem, and you’ve gotta fix it. This is both great and terrible at the same time.

How would you describe your work?

There are three of us, and we split everything, so its never any one person working on something. Its a mixture of styles, more of a shared thinking and liking of visual things that turns into Textbook. Graphic design is a bit invisible at times, it can be a lot of not-very-glamourous behind the scenes work that can’t be described visually but is equally as important.

What inspires you?

If it’s not too mushy to mention working with our studio buddies, then John Powell-Jones and Dan Russell. They really inspire us day to day and a lot of the messing around and thinking out loud that goes on in the studio usually leads to some good ideas or a new project. I guess our friends in general really inspire us, and going to a lot of creative events and exhibitions in town, things we find or pick up, reading a lot, nice books. Lots of nice books.

What materials do you use?

Textbook studio2


For design work, mainly just macs, a scanner and a camera; but we have loads of equipment for printing, binding and fixing things that we can work with. Having the riso in the studio is very useful. Risograph printing has kind of become a material in itself actually, we’ve recently figured out how to mono-print with the spent masters.

Who is your favourite artist or maker?

Too many to name, especially for the three of us. Sorry that’s such a boring answer! The last shows we saw and really enjoyed were Matisse Cut Outs at the Tate in London and Ryan Gander at Manchester Art Gallery.

What tip would you give to people about one of our products?

We recently bought some thermograving powder and started thermograving wet / newly-printed riso prints. Lots of fun, highly recommended.

Where can people see your work? Do you have a website?

We’ve just re-done our website and updated it with loads of new work — www.textbookstudio.co.uk

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