The graphic design course blog for
HND Visual Communication at Edinburgh College

Just Traditional Types

13 November 2015

Each year we make a pilgrimage to Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders to visit Robert Smail's Printing Works.

Founded in 1866, Robert Smail's Printing Works provided quality printed materials to Scotland for 120 years until its closure in1986, when the property was taken over by the National Trust for Scotland. It remains the only operational jobbing printer of its kind in country, and represents an important part of Scotland's industrial heritage.

This year we made two visits, one with our NC Graphics group, and a second visit with both HNC Graphics and HNC Interactive Design. The team at Robert Smail's gave each group a brilliant tour of the workshop, from the type specimens, printing press machinery and letterpress to the extensive and fascinating archive. The students also got a chance to typeset their own names in metal type and then letterpress print the results.

A visit to this amazing workshop is a bit like going back in time, and the traditional machinery, techniques and experience of working with real type is still a key ingredient in design education that we find inspires student designers and informs their the modern digitally-orientated typographical work in their projects.

All pics by Chris Radley, HNC Graphic Design