Nick Hand showing us the prototype for the printing press bicycle

Recently, Nick Hand, founder of The Letterpress Collective came to Simpleweb HQ to share his story – from cycling around the coast of the UK to breathing new life into the art of letterpress printing.

Nick’s visit was part of a new Simpleweb initiative to help our team experience a broader range of businesses from both inside and outside the tech world.

Nick came to talk about why instead of “surging forward” like us, he’s “going back a few hundred years”.

It all started about eight years ago when Nick cycled around the coast of the UK, around 6,500 miles in total. Why? “Mainly because I had got to 52 then, and I thought I’ve travelled all over the world, but there’s so many places in our own island [that I haven’t seen].”

Thinking the ride in itself was “a bit self indulgent”, Nick decided to “seek out people that made things and record them. I recorded them in audio and took still pictures and put them together to make these sound slides and little photo films.”

When he got home, Nick couldn’t quite bring himself to go back to his desk job. He’d always been interested in letterpress printing, and met a few printers on his journey, so when he discovered there was no more commercial letterpress printers in Bristol, he started to set something up.

“There was still a little kit around and I thought someone should gather it together before it all goes and nobody else would do it so I did. I started collecting this stuff, found a place to put it and set up this community interest company.”

The Letterpress Collective does a bit of commercial press printing, works with artists and other creatives on their projects and holds beginner’s workshops to keep the art alive.

Through his friend, bicycle framemaker Robin Mather, Nick found an amazing way to combine his love of cycling with printing with the printing press bike. Nick rode the printing bike to Mainz, home of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable-type printing press. He printed limited postcards from each city he stopped in on his journey, which are now available to buy in a book on the Letterpress Collective website.

Nick has more trips on the printing press bike coming up. Keep an eye on for updates.

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