A different kind of desktop publishing

How a collaboration between various creatives and manufacturers led to an inspired working art project.

Art director Peter Chadwick and creative collaborator Jonny Holmes' project Desktop Publishing brings the title to life in a literal fashion, creating a hybrid desk and printing press. It prints four colour sheets, with interchangeable plates so that any combination of designs can be produced to vivid effect.

In fact, though the design and project lead was taken by Chadwick and Holmes, no fewer than nine collaborators - from specialists supplying metal plates to the New North press designing the actual printing mechanisms - contributed towards the project.

"Our Desktop Publishing project is an analogue take on the original digital meaning of the words," explains Chadwick. "The phrase conjures up images of poorly designed, mass-produced print literature. The table is an antidote to this, delivering well-crafted, bespoke, hand-printed posters."

Although it was his initial idea, Chadwick points out a further advantage of working in collaboration with other creatives - the banishment of procrastination and development languish. "At one point, I thought the idea would not get off the ground. This changed after I approached Jonny. After briefing him on the project and idea, Jonny went away and produced some visuals. He was invaluable in the development of the concept, sourcing the materials and assisting me throughout the process."

Collaboration with other creatives, suppliers and designers also sped the development of the project along. From the briefing to the manufacture of the table the process took just under three months to complete, says Chadwick. "It would have been quicker if not for my other commitments. The beauty and curse of personal work is that there is not a fixed deadline."

The table really came to life in the form of a promotional newspaper printed by Newspaper Club - a further example of the collaborative nature of the project. As a promotional item, it contains a series of photographic images showing the CMYK poster being printed on the table by Graham Bignell from New North Press. The photos themselves were taken by another project member - the excellent David Ryle, who is a friend of Chadwick's and long-time collaborator of Popular.

"The original idea was developed as a one-off concept piece," says Chadwick. "But I see the potential in the mass production of the table, with it being used as an educational tool in schools and colleges."

Words: Tom Dennis

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 117.

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