Central Saint Martins student, Lydia Blagden has spent the last few weeks interning at Barnard & Westwood to gain first hand experience of fine printing & bookbinding.
What attracted you to want to do an internship at Barnard and Westwood?
My tutor at Central Saint Martins, Helen Ingham, organised groups of tours around Barnard & Westwood in February. I’d done some bookbinding, Letterpress and printmaking before so it sounded really interesting and I signed up. I ended up arriving about half an hour early and having a look through the B&W portfolio books, and as I went through them I remember thinking how each piece was so tactile and beautifully printed and designed, and how much I’d like to create work like that. I’m now interning here for the second time, designing an invitation for an internal event in November that I hope matches the standard set in that book.
Did you have any creative background before coming to Barnard and Westwood?
I’m currently just about to start my second year studying Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. What drew me to CSM was the fact that they didn’t just push technology for technology’s sake, there’s an equal emphasis on traditional processes such as Letterpress, Bookbinding, Darkroom Photography and a variety of printmaking processes. I’ve always tried to find ways to mix digital and physical techniques in my work so it’s the best of both worlds.
What processes were you most interested in learning?
I’m particularly interested in the Bookbinding department; all the opportunities for experimenting are great for a designer, but it’s built on knowledge that has been passed down for hundreds of years. Some of the equipment was made a hundred years ago, and they practice techniques that have been the same for centuries. It’s an odd meeting point of historical and contemporary design, and it’s incredibly gratifying to finish a project with a physical product, a beautiful book that could potentially live in a collection for hundreds of years.
What has been your favourite part of your time here?
As this is my second time interning here it’s been great to have more of an active role in helping out and to become more familiar with how the office and workshop operate. Seeing jobs go from the initial design concepts through to completion has been really interesting as well. Probably my favourite thing so far has been designing the invitation – thinking about which processes could be used, and watching it being printed will be fun and a great learning experience.
What does your average day at Barnard and Westwood consist of?
Each day has been completely different so far but it’s been a good split between the office and bindery. Some projects run over a couple of days, like designing the ‘Gent’s Event’ Movember invitation, or adding ribbons to a bespoke book for a client, or helping to order and categorise the invoices from the past few years. The other intern, Sam, and I have been helping out with such a wide range of tasks at Barnard & Westwood, wherever someone needs an extra pair of hands.
What are your plans for the future?
I still have two years of University left so it’s difficult to say as plans might change, but at the moment I want to pursue book design, everything from typesetting to cover design to binding. I don’t want to be stuck behind a computer screen for the next 40 years so learning more about the physical processes such as Bookbinding, Letterpress etc. will be key.
In the short term, I’m going to New York for 5 months next year as part of an exchange program with SVA which is exciting, it’ll be really interesting to see the differences between the English and American education system, and, if I get the chance to visit any, how binderies and printers operate over there.
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