Scotland’s Centre for
Design and Architecture

Facebook Twitter Instagram
Trip Advisor

Twitter Feed /

Blog / Q&A with Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress

Q&A with Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress 24 Nov 2016
by Alan Kitching

Alan Kitching is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking. We are delighted to be welcoming Alan to The Lighthouse for the opening night of A Life in Letterpress and thrilled to be hosting the exhibition here until March 2017.

Ahead of the opening we caught up with Alan to ask him some questions relating to his exhibition, his career and to find out how he has adapted his practices over the years. Read on to find out more.

1. Talk us through your exhibition – what can we expect to see & learn from it?

What you will see in the exhibition is a wide selection of work from my apprenticeship in the 1950s through to the present day. All the work displayed is done by letterpress technology. It includes projects from some of my students from my workshops at the RCA in London. It also includes books and magazine and some work from many other artists and designers I have worked with over this period. The exhibition is very personal and only shows influences from people I have known or worked with.

What people may learn from it I hope, is the possibilities of what can be done with an ‘old technology’ and then made anew.

2. What was the inspiration behind your exhibition?

The inspiration behind the exhibition (which opened at Somerset House in London in April 2016) was to launch my book ‘A Life in Letterpress’ written by John L Walters, designed by Simon Esterson and published by Laurence King Publishers. The book covers much the same time scale as the exhibition, but with more detailed content.

3. Your career has spanned over six decades, how has the design industry changed during this time?

The design industry has changed completely, but that is due to the technology changing from hand-made to digital computer based design. What remains, is the fact that the visual language is the same.

4. How did you adapt to these changes, has your working method changed along the way?

The design industry became an ‘industry’ which it didn’t used to be. So I changed by moving into an area which had been forgotten about.

5. What has been the highlight of your career?

The highlight for me was working with Anthony Froshaug, Derek Birdsall and Alan Fletcher and also meeting Paul Rand.

6. If you were to give advice to someone starting out in the industry what would this be?

Study the work of the designers you admire. 

7. In the current graphic design world which emerging practitioners or design companies have caught your attention?

Some of the students who left the RCA in recent years like Henrik Kubel, GTF, Abake, Jonny Hannah, and then the illustrators Jeff Fisher, George Hardy, Noma Barr.

8. You recently ran a workshop during the Graphic Design Festival Scotland held here at The Lighthouse, what are your thoughts on the festival?

I have very fond memories of the Festival and the workshop I did with Edwin Pickworth from the Glasgow School of Art. It was well run and organised.

Join Alan Kitching here at The Lighthouse for the official opening of his exhibition on Thursday 8th December from 6:00-8:00pm. RSVP:

You can see Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress from Friday 9th December 2016 until Sunday 5th March 2017 in Gallery One here at The Lighthouse. Read more about the exhibition:

Design by Tangent Graphic