Derbyshire’s own charity Xmas card

If you are after festive cards, made in Derbyshire and in aid of a tremendous cause then look no further and get yourself to a newly-opened shop and gallery in Derby.

The Christmas card above has been designed by The Smallprint Company and the print will be used to create artisan charity Christmas cards in aid of Treetops Hospice.

Chris and Hannah Barker, the couple who created the letterpress printing business, have pledged to donate 20p to the charity from every one of  the cards sold.

The couple, who have a mutual love of typography, design and traditional letterpress print, met at university while studying fine art and printmaking in the 1990s.

They always had an ambition to run their own print studio but first spent several years in the print and publishing industry honing their skills before taking the plunge and setting up on their own four years ago.

They first had a studio at Banks Mill, in Derby and now they have their own independent studio in Friary Street.

The move has provided them with enough space not only to display their own products but also to run workshops, exhibit work by other printmakers and a space for other sessions such as life drawing classes.

The studio is an Aladdin’s cave of antique presses which they have lovingly restored and original type in a huge variety of fonts which they hunt out at auctions and on eBay.

“I consider that we are the custodians of the presses and type for future generations. It is important that we don’t let the skills we have die out.

“One of the presses is 130 years old and I would like to think that in another 30 years someone else will be using it. We are just looking after the equipment for now and passing on our skills to others in our workshops,” said Chris passionately.

While he takes care of the printing, Hannah keeps the business running smoothly and she jokingly says it is her job to keep an eye on what letterpress type Chris is buying.

“He just can’t resist it if he sees it,” she says.

The couple have built their business slowly and carefully, hitting personal targets along the way, and they are now pushing to get themselves better known in the region.  They create all kinds of bespoke wedding and business stationery and are particularly focusing on corporate events for which they can design everything from menus and place settings to cloakroom tags.

“We worked hard in the industry for many years to learn as much as could and now we are enjoying working for ourselves,” said Chris.

“It is great that if I have an new idea for a design I can just get straight on and do it that day without having to hold a committee meeting. We are looking forward to moving the business on a step in the new year.”

The Smallprint Company cards and designs are on sale at various other galleries in the region including Design @ 44 in Sadler Gate, Derby, The Two Birds Gallery at Castle Donington and Whynot Gallery in Burton upon Trent.

Go to http://www.smallprintcompany.co.uk to find out more about their workshops and courses.

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