At the Larmer Tree Festival in 2013, by Olivia Keith

Keeping it Semple


My name is Rachel Marsh and I'm a letterpress printer working from a print shed at the bottom of my garden in north Devon. I make artist's books and print ephemera (like postcards, posters and cards), which often explores using type as image.

Letterpress printing gives me freedom from the screen (I'm a graphic designer by day) so in my own work I'm usually analogue: using wood and metal type... plus some lino and the occasional found object (bubble wrap prints surprisingly well for example!). This means that if I don't have some type in a certain size to fit just that space... then I need to find some other type that will, or come up with another idea altogether. Often the workaround to find a solution means I end up with an outcome I could never have imagined, which is usually much more interesting. I've nothing against polymer and magnesium plates though, and do use them from time to time – they're perfect for many situations.

I love work by HN Werkman, El Lissitzky, Kurt Schwitters, Piet Zwart and Moholy-Nagy and am also very influenced by Karel Martens and also (weirdly) a lot of the new wave typography from the 1990s. For me, what their work shares in common is an engagement with experimental typography, to find new ways to communicate using the technology to hand. The technology I use (type and press) slows me down, and to use actual physical type and spacing makes me design in a completely new way.

Limitations of time mean that I very rarely undertake commissioned work, but check out my Etsy Shop if you’d like to buy one of my books, or drop me a line if something catches your eye.