Hooksmith Press

Leytonstone, london

Typographic prints made lovingly by hand, using age old and rare letterpress equipment from the vast and revered Hooksmith Press collection–some nearing 200 years old.

The wordsmithing is as varied as the typefaces. Hooksmith Press produces both solely text-based prints, and text accompanied by imagery (from antique advertising/pictorial plates and bold colour blocks and borders). Subjects range from, fun poetic-witticisms, nostalgic & contemporary observations/sage advice or the just plain obtuse.

The story behind the business
Meet Hooksmith Press

Established in 2010 by Russell Frost in London, UK - a Kiwi from off the beaten track, now living in East London. A collector all of his life, he crossed paths at an early age with a couple of historians independently as well as one memorable living relic. One historian was his art teacher, who quit teaching to run his own museum full time, (Tawhiti Museum, Taranaki). Another, a family friend who also created another museum in Marlborough(Brayshaw Heritage Park). The latter encouraged him to ignore the school health nurse and continue his then passion of scouring the local dump in search of bygone relics. These might include, old tobacco tins, match boxes, enamel signs, old bottles etc (usually all with great labels). Ephemera, bric-a-brac, and kiwiana are words often used to describe the types of items he lovingly collected and graphically, they still influence many of the works he makes today. Ray Clarke was the living relic, a retired 1930’s gold prospector, would take him then in his 80's to fossick for gold on his old claim. Couple all of this with a rural upbringing in a mountainous National Park with wilderness to boot and a botanist father and you have a window into some of his inspiration.

Most recently, he was selected to show his work in the 2022 Royal Academy of Art, Summer Exhibition (Curated by Sir Grayson Perry) in London. This gave him a boost and enabled him to design and build his very own garden studio.

The name Hooksmith alludes to the handmade and conjures an artisan vibe. It also reflects a decade of his life obsessed with brown trout and fly-fishing, working professionally as a guide on the rivers of the top of the south Island of NZ, before following his heart to married and family life in London – quite a contrast.

In the discipline of letterpress, one of his biggest joys is collecting the rare and original 2-colour typefaces and the even rarer ‘chromatic’ typefaces – were two passes on the press results in parts of the printed letter having a resultant 3rd colour where the inks from the 2-piece letter-sets have been made to purposely overlapped. You need stamina in this game – it took him 8 years to find an original set of such type for sale.

We hope you like the work as much as he likes making it.

founder Credentials

  • 50s Plus Founder
  • Socially Positive
Hooksmith press


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