Inside the studio: Meet Russell Frost, printmaker and owner of Leytonstone’s Hooksmith Press
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of print, and old-fashioned printmaking in particular, so the opportunity to visit Russell Frost in his Leytonstone studio was one I was not about to pass up, extremely cold Sunday morning notwithstanding.
Once inside what can only be described as a very compact space, I immediately spotted several wooden plan chests – beautiful objects in themselves. I was also struck by the sheer amount of printing equipment, which included several presses and seemingly endless drawers bursting with the most extraordinary collection of wood and metal letter and illustration blocks. I was in my element, and the more we talked, the more I wanted to know.
Born in Canada and raised in a remote National Park, in the South Island of New Zealand, Russell’s work references a connectedness to place and is also inspired by his childhood love of collecting Kiwiana and other ephemera; mostly objects that he’d rescued ‘while scouring the dumps’ as a youngster. Many of these finds, such as old matchbooks, cigarette packets and tiny tins, hearken back to a different time and evoke feelings of nostalgia for the craftsmanship that produced them.
Russell also has a passion for flyfishing and, after gaining his degree in Landscape Architecture, he worked as a professional Flyfishing Guide for about seven years before getting back into design. After he had met and married his wife, who is British, they relocated to the UK and have now been in Leytonstone for several years, where he runs Hooksmith Press in Church Lane.
In talking with Russell, it’s clear that he’s a man who loves what he does. He has a respect for, and a love of, typography and of the written word. That, coupled with a relentless creative spirit and a keen eye for detail, culminates in beautifully produced, handcrafted, limited edition prints and cards. He’s also a walking, talking encyclopedia regarding letterpress (and flyfishing).
Russell sells an array of prints and cards, both online and at the shop, as well as taking commissions. Go have a gander at his website; better yet, pop by the shop to really appreciate his beautiful work. The shop is open most weekends from 11am – 6pm, and at other times by arrangement; you can also ring or text during the week and if he’s nearby he’ll happily come down.
FIND OUT MORE:
54 Church Lane
Leytonstone, E11 1HE