Keeping the art of print alive

From L’Automàtica letterpress workshops in Barcelona to New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the Collie Print Trust study tour explores global practices in graphic design, typography and art. Every year 20 RMIT students and two academics have the opportunity to join this unique tour generously exposing a new generation of graphic designers to old printing techniques.

It’s all thanks to the Collie Print Trust, established in 1967 by Barbara Collie to support technical education in the printing and allied trades in memory of her father and brothers, who ran R. Collie & Co – a prominent Australian printing ink manufacturing business.

Colin Lewis is now Chairman of the Collie Print Trust (he was an employee of Collie Australia until 1983), which supports the annual study tour.

A night marked in Colin’s diary each November is the annual awards night hosted by the School of Graphic Design. “I get such a thrill when some of these students, that I’ve obviously never met, come up to me and explain their experience going to all of the top graphic design studios all over the world. And the appreciation – even though it’s not asked for – you can see it in their faces what they’ve gained from the study tour,’’ he says.

A total of 90 students have taken the tour since it began in 2013, visiting incredible cities and renowned studios to learn the art of print and apply it to their own practice.

Previously the Trust supported scholarships to printing apprentices until these programs were no longer offered. All previous grants were transferred to the School of Graphic Design.

On tour, students learn the traditional practices of printing and typography. Hands-on workshops force them to consider their relationship with technology challenge their current aesthetic.

Alumni reflections on the study tour experience, the practitioners and how it has informed their work today.

Ingrid Horton
Ingrid Horton
Diploma of Graphic Design, 2011

“I set the question for my investigation as – ‘can design do good?’ My travel and research led me to conclude that socially engaged design is prevalent and replicable.

Travel also enabled me to discover the powers of creative collaboration, how a sense of place influences design, and an appreciation of labours of love in keeping alive skills that involve the head, hand and heart.”

Michael Precel
Michael Precel
Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design, 2014

“The tour showed me how a group of very different practitioners all make their living, while practising their passion. I learnt more about manual printing and different creative processes: Dafi’s methodical approach in contrast to Re:Surgo’s organic approach and considered the ways in which I could adopt those techniques.

I learnt the importance of collaboration and open-mindedness in the graphic design world as well as the benefit of being multidisciplined and exploring personal projects.”

Emma Chew
Emma Chew
Associate Degree of Graphic Design, 2016

“One of the key elements of this trip for me was to see people doing their passions as their careers. They might not make a lot of money, but they do what they love and that’s where a lot of their happiness comes from.

Chill Phil was a prime example of this. His approach to work and the creative process was refreshing … only putting energy into the work that he really enjoyed.”

Erin Battersby
Erin Battersby
Associate Degree of Graphic Design, 2016

“We visited Palefroi on our study tour and they have heavily influenced my style as a designer. Their hands-on methods have challenged the way I begin my ideation in my design process.

The quirky style and almost child-like typography has inspired me to experiment with a range of mark-making media to create lively design.”

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