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« From craft to technology and back again: print’s progress in the twentieth century », Centre for Printing History and Culture Printing Historical Society & The National Print Museum

Professor Michael Twyman, University of Reading, Industrial photogravure: its influence on design 1920-50
Dr Nicola Gordon Bowe, National College of Art & Design, Dublin, The role of Harry Clarke (1889-1931) as illustrator, innovative art editor and graphic designer, Dublin 1921-25
During the twentieth century the printing industry underwent considerable change as it shifted from a craft-based trade to a technology-led profession, largely as a result of three major revolutions. In the composing room there was a move from hand- to machine composition followed by photo-setting and finally digital means of letter assembly; while in the press room printers experienced a shift from letterpress to off-set lithography and latterly digital methods of production.
These revolutions initiated both organizational and structural changes: compositors moved out of the printing office and re-located to trade typesetting houses; printers concentrated wholly on graphic reproduction and presswork; whilst design was undertaken by professional typographers working in private practice, remote from the trade typesetters or printing office. Change brought new methods of management into the industry and old grievances surfaced which often resulted in unrest, marking the twentieth century as an era of industrial disputes with the rise and demise of the print unions.
Education and training were seen as necessary in the management of change, with the advent of formal education for printers and the emergence of school-trained professional typographic designers who assumed a defined and prominent role in the preparation of printed products, which showcased typographic trends and new modes of graphic communication.
External factors also affected the industry including political upheaval, two world wars, fluctuating economies, international competition, politics and changing social values all impacted on print’s progress.
However, the end of the twentieth century also saw a revival of interest in craft techniques and an increase in the number of printers who chose not to be taken over by technology but held to older methods of production in order to satisfy a rising alternative market of customers seeking tradition and craft.
THEMES: papers are invited on, but not limited to the following themes:

  • Design: movements, designers, graphic design, type and typographic design, book design, magazine and newspaper design, corporate design; packaging
  • Printers: individual printers, printing companies, private presses;
  • Printing processes: Letterpress, lithography, gravure, screen, flexography, transfer;
  • Products: books, newspapers, printed ephemera, posters, maps, security printing, textile, tin and ceramic printing;
  • Structure: trade unions, management, trade shows;
  • Technology: printing, composing, type making, graphic reproduction, engraving, sterotyping, electrotyping, printing science, colour, paper, inks, bindings, packaging, machine manufactures;
  • Training: schools of printing, schools of design, manuals of printing, manuals of design;
  • Other: book trade, journalism, news agencies, editing and authorship.

PAPERS of twenty-minutes duration are invited for this interdisciplinary conference from independent researchers, established scholars and postgraduates working in the fields of twentieth-century printing history, typographic history, print culture, social and economic history. The event is also open to practioners and all members of the printing industry.
HOW TO APPLY Please send a suggested title, synopsis (300 words) and biography (150 words) via a Word attachment to and by 30 June 2016.
VENUE National Print Museum, Garrison Chapel, Beggar's Bush Barracks, Haddington Rd, Dublin, Ireland
ORGANISERS Professor Caroline Archer (Centre for Printing History & Culture); Anne Brady (National Print Museum); Francis Cave (Printing Historical Society); Dr Christopher Hill (Centre for Printing History & Culture); Dr John Hinks (Printing Historical Society); Carla Marrinan (National Print Museum); Sean Sills (National Print Museum)