The Diesel Island Cultural Olympiad 2011 continues this week with a talk from Sam Arthur and Alex Spiro from Nobrow press.

Based in London’s East End, Nobrow is a creative powerhouse that encompasses a gallery space, two printing presses to allow almost complete self-sufficiency in their publishing endeavours, as well as a charming office complete with an Otaku’s cave of rare treasures from around the world. Even if you only have a passing interest in illustration (as I do) you really owe it to yourself to take a trip to NB headquarters on Great Eastern Street to see for yourself what it means to run a completely self-contained publishing company.

Nobrow was set up to provide a platform for new illustrators to publish their work…

For Spiro and Arthur an initial interest in illustration came from early exposure to those colourful bastions of youthful wonderment and knowledge: the Ladybird Picture Books. From these humble beginnings, equally channelling the populist allure of Marvel, DC et al with the more esoteric appeal of graphic novel distributors like Fantagraphics (with a little inspiration coming from Japanese Godzilla annuals from the 1960s) Nobrow was set up to provide a platform for new illustrators to publish their work, alongside more seasoned veterans in individual releases as well as the superb Nobrow compendium which is published annually.

Nobrow aims to provide “economies through design”, providing the highest quality product while keeping overheads at a minimum thus reducing the cost to the consumer and increasing returns to the illustrators. All releases are effectively handmade, with the vast majority of printing done in-house on either the larger Nobrow Press imprint or the smaller screenprint-based Nobrow Small Press, while outsourcing, if needed, is kept local. Although initially using two spot colours for early releases such as the sublime Nobrow #1 which focuses on creation myths, the more recent output has been printed in glorious three colour!

…each Nobrow release is a collectors item, a publication to be cherished…

Nobrow are nobly attempting (and succeeding) in increasing the value of the printed page, mass production leads inevitably to disposability, and while they are reasonably priced each Nobrow release is a collectors’ item, a publication to be cherished, like the books we grew up with: the books that inspired Nobrow in the first place.

Visit Nobrow HQ at 62 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3QR where exhibitions and illustration events are regularly held.

Image courtesy of NoBrow


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