Bespoke. The word conjures images of fine quality, handcrafted items. Artisan Books fit this description; they make beautiful books.
Artisan Books offers bespoke books to a wide audience. The service is targeted to creative professionals and artists, as well as anyone who wants ‘superior limited edition books at an affordable cost’.
Owned and managed by Francis Atterbury and Jo Hilton, Artisan Books are handmade in London using traditional book binding techniques combined with the most advanced digital printing technologies available today.
Francis explains that Artisan Books was inspired by his own experience producing a print-on-demand book, based on his father’s memoirs. The pictures were assembled, the pitfalls and traps inherent in trying to make something as complex as a book were avoided but, while the printing was satisfactory, the binding and ‘feel’ of the book was so bad, it was genuinely shocking. “I hadn’t been sent a book” he says, “I’d been sent some sheets of paper glued between some overweight boards; it won’t open easily, looks disgusting and in a few years it’ll be in pieces. To me that’s not a book, that’s an over-specified memo”.
Located just outside of London, England, Artisan Books is a subsidiary of , the company established in 1978 by Rowley Atterbury and internationally regarded for their expertise in print production. Current Partners Francis Atterbury and Jo Hilton have more than thirty years experience of book production and high quality printing, as well as extensive experience in letterpress and litho printing. Hurtwood Press books are often fine art books and photography collections, but they have also produced exhibition catalogues and special edition books for publishers and clients.
The late Rowley Atterbury was the founder of Westerham Press and a contemporary and friend of Rocky Stinehour and Harold Hugo at Meriden Gravure and the Stinehour Press. Rowley pioneering the use of computers in printing, which culminated in the world’s first bible typeset by computer in 1965. Francis continues to share how first Westerham Press, and now Hurtwood Press, have used technology to improve printing standards. This heritage informs the approach of Artisan Books, combining traditional book binding processes and ultra modern printing technology – not to make objects that are easy for machines to make, but rather to make objects that people will love to hold.
Artisan Books have been selected by several high profile customers, including Sir Paul McCartney, for whom Artisan Books created a one-of-a-kind collection of Tour books, which included two years worth of extensive tour photography enclosed in a beautiful, double slipcase.
Each Artisan Book is made with premium Mohawk Superfine paper as its foundation. “It was a simple decision. I’ve used Mohawk Superfine for 20 years, and quite simply, there is not a better paper for digital printing than Mohawk Superfine” said Francis Atterbury of the archival quality paper that does not fade or discolor over time.
These books are finished using traditional techniques with optional custom foiling and although they can be delivered to order, there are three standard book sizes – Large (13 x 12 inches), Photographers’ Landscape (91/4x 131/2 inches) and Standard (91/4 x 81/4 inches). These sizes were chosen because they make beautiful books; they were not decided by the economics of machine formats or paper sizes.
“When you are only making a few books with little or no waste, there is no reason to compromise the beauty of the object”, says Francis Atterbury. The books make use of large format sheets of Mohawk Superfine Digital with i-Tone and are printed on the HP Indigo 10000.
Artisan Books were early adopters of the digital print process, which makes individual books an affordable venture for customers. Nine vibrant colored cloths are available for the binding, or artists can choose their own, unique shade. All books have color matched end papers as well as head & tail bands.
Everyone should have access to unique, handmade, lasting books and Artisan Books is extending a limited-time, special discount offer to readers of Felt & Wire.
To make your own custom book: mention “brands who love Mohawk” and receive a 10% discount and free shipping, for orders placed by March 31. Contact Francis at artisanbook.co.uk to make a book that really will live forever.