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Fishing for Ink

Inspired by Nature, why print with normal ink when you can use renewable, natural sources, was the thought behind Today Designers’ latest project: a publication printed with squid ink.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 07-11-2013

Located at Vechtclub XL, a relatively new designer’s hub in Utrecht, Today Designers is a group of creatives working in visual communication. Although their client list includes some big name brands, every other year the studio makes time for a project that inspires them. Previously it was a book cover printed with ash from an Icelandic volcano – the one that caused a major air-traffic delay. This year it was a squid-ink print.

television programme about the price of printer cartridges is what spurred the idea for a book printed with squid ink. “On the show they attempted to refill printer cartridges with squid ink but it just turned into a big mess,” says Bob Derksen, creative partner of Today Designers. “We knew it would be possible to print using silkscreens, and the idea for a book printed with squid ink was born. Tall tales with a whiff of the sea, that’s was the idea.”

The book features stories from the sea, illustrations are provided by studio members and freelance illustrator Iwan Kempe. Two Rotterdam-based writers (Menno Smit and Edwin de Voigt) wrote a series of tall tales about seamen. “The book is a great co-creation between soulful stories and beautiful illustrations,” says Derksen.

Tell us about the printing process. Did the squid ink cause any difficulties?

Derksen: “Everything was done by hand and we used almost every craft we could think of. We silkscreened each book by hand, for eight days non stop. We were hoping for an edition of a thousand but unfortunately lost so many pages that we were left with 700. The books are bound with a Japanese knot which came with it’s own issues. And to top it off we rubbed out all the imperfections and stains by hand with soft rubber. Talk about labour intensive.”

And what about the ink itself, where did you get it from?

“They let us take all the ink from the squid at the fish auction in Scheveningen. We managed to get two litres of pure ink, enough for the entire production. Usually you can buy squid ink from a special company as it’s used to colour pasta, but we wanted it as fresh as possible to keep the smell. We didn’t catch the squid especially for this project, they were sold on to fish traders after we were done with them.”

We ask Derksen if the books really smell. “Yes, it really smells just enough, like the harbour and the sea!”

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