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Of ligament and ligature: A practice-led investigation of letterpress printed artists’ books in the UK

Butler, A C


A C Butler


This thesis examines the practice of the contemporary maker of letterpress printed artists’ books in the UK. It focuses on individual and collaborative production of artists’ books with specific reference to utilisation of the letterpress process.

The research seeks to identify how letterpress printing is utilised within contemporary book art practice as means to locate and test how and why practitioners are employing this process to make their books. To understand their physiological and bodily relationships with presses and process: what equipment they use, how they develop their knowledge and skills, and transfer them to others, based on their own background and knowledge of their subject area.

Questions about the continued use and technological expansion of letterpress printing within book art practice have come about through individual and collaborative projects: in my own experiential practice as an independent practitioner and lecturer in the field of artists’ books and letterpress printing.

Through self initiated study and working with poets, printers, artists, designers and others across a series of projects in the UK, Europe and the USA, I have identified particular methodologies and methods of application by individual practitioners who use letterpress printing to make their artists’ books. These methods are important to document and establish benchmarks and standards as part of the tradition of good studio practice in an expanding field. A baseline for assessing the impact of digital technology on practice, the physical and psychological relationship of the practitioner to their equipment and the commitment to the practice of letterpress printing within artists’ books practice.

Word count: 72,277

Thesis Type Thesis
APA6 Citation Butler, A. C. Of ligament and ligature: A practice-led investigation of letterpress printed artists’ books in the UK. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from
Keywords letterpress, printing, artists' books, artist's book, phenomenology, tacit, haptic, collaborative, art practice, artist-led publishing.


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