Artist Interview

Chichester Art Trail Artists

A studio interview with Tom Boulton

 

Ellen Hancock has taken the lead in the three latest Artist Interviews. Here is what she has to say about our visit to Tom, Venue 111 in this year’s Art Trail.

 

It is not long now until the 2019 Trail starts but before the last minute preparations begin, Mum (Nicola) and I (Ellen, middle child) took the opportunity to visit a few more studios to check out what’s in store for this year.

Following the Regis Trail, we went to see Tom Boulton, otherwise known at Type Tom. Kindly welcomed in with a cup of coffee, we were a-gasp with the cave of wonders in front of us. I felt my self itching to get photographing immediately, seeing all sorts of nooks and crannies filled with curiosities!

Tom is obviously extremely passionate about his work and the processes and machinery that informs it. He has a wealth of knowledge and is a delight to talk to, we guarantee you won’t leave quickly and will be signing up for one of his workshops as soon as you can.

... I’m lucky that I find machinery really inspiring. So when I feel a creative block and just lost, I tend to look at some of the machinery that needs to be restored and start taking it apart and thinking what I can do with it.
Ellen Hancock

What inspired your interest in typography and printing?

Tom Boulton

When I went to Art College I naturally found myself turning towards design and typography and so afterwards went on to the London College of Printing. Whilst there, I found myself drawn to bold and classic design and the amazing type design that seemed to somehow bond everything together. Letterpress came to me after I left the London College of Printing when I started working freelance and realised the real modern potential to mass produce and create actual prints with soul, rather than poor copies.

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Ellen Hancock

What sort of environment did you aim to create with your studio?

Tom Boulton

The workshop has naturally developed, there was no masterplan. As to how it has evolved, people who know me well say that it is just an extension of me and my personality – which is probably why I feel really comfortable there.

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Ellen Hancock

What specialist machinery do you have in your studio? What is your most loved tool or piece of machinery, and why?

Tom Boulton

I have quite a lot of machinery; I love them all! My Cropper Charlton Peerless will always be special as it was the first press I really learnt how to print on. My Vandercook will always be special as it was given to me by someone (Andy) a stranger who I met at a trade fair as he wanted to see it restored. Previously, it had been sitting rusting in a barn for years and it was such a challenge to bring back from the dead – my biggest restoration job to date.

My most loved tool is easy, I have an old quoin key (used to lock out the type) that I use every day. It was owned by someone obviously called Roger and he has engraved his name on the side of it, but done a terrible job and only fitted ROG on it! It always makes me happy; it is really not the best key I own but I always use it.

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Ellen Hancock

What is a normal day like in your studio?

Tom Boulton

I don’t really do normal! Every day is a bit different (I’m not good at routines). Usually I start by checking emails and drinking coffee and then go from there. I can often be found working late at the workshop, which is something of a bad habit!

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Ellen Hancock

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Tom Boulton

I have just finished a massive job working on a project for an event at Skoll World Forum at Oxford Siad Business School. This meant spending a week with 1200 delegates to create their own news headline and print it live with them; the idea being to print individual news headlines e.g. headlines that sum up how they have achieved their end goal.

After such a big job, I have returned to working on smaller individual projects including some rather nice wedding stationery commissions, which feels good to get back to.

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Ellen Hancock

You have a keen interest in reviving old techniques and machinery, any in particular you are exploring at the moment?

Tom Boulton

Every year I like to feel like I have to achieved something! Usually this means learning a new skill. Last year I taught myself how to make photopolymer printing plates and I made myself a UV exposure unit. This year I keep thinking about how to make my own new wood type (I have just purchased a type saw which is my first step towards this aim).

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Ellen Hancock

When you are creatively lost or frustrated, does your space inspire you?

Tom Boulton

Always – I’m lucky that I find machinery really inspiring. So when I feel a creative block and just lost, I tend to look at some of the machinery that needs to be restored and start taking it apart and thinking what I can do with it.

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Ellen Hancock

What time of year or day do you most enjoy your studio?

Tom Boulton

Coffee break time when the sun starts to come though the front doors and the workshop warms up quickly.

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Ellen Hancock

What ambitions do you have for your work and studio in the future?

Tom Boulton

Work ambitions are the same as they have always been – to do as much as possible to the best possible standards. And, to show that Letterpress printing is a creative form and craft that is relevant in the modern world.

Studio ambitions – more wood type and more machines (same old same old!) I would love to get an Albion or Columbian in the workshop and I have spent a lot of time over the last year and a half running interactive workshops with people, which is great fun, so lots more workshops to come.

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Ellen Hancock

What is a 'studio' to you?

Tom Boulton

I think of my space as a workshop not as a studio, to me a studio feels like a gallery and I’m more a man in shed kind of creative, so lots of tools and big heavy things make me happy.

Photographic Credit: Ellen Hancock
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