Simon Goode - Founder of London Centre For Book Arts
London College of Communication, BA (Hons) Book Arts and Crafts, 2006
What are your fondest memories of London College of Communication?
Coming back to College at the beginning of the year. I remember it being really exciting to see what had been going on over the summer, and seeing everyone after the break. On the BA (Hons) Book Arts and Crafts course, we had a three-day taught week, with other days free for us to work on projects in the bindery studio, and it was at the beginning of the year that we’d know what we’d be learning that year, and what electives we could take. It was all very exciting – being in an environment where you could work alone or with others, and seek advice and help when you needed it. It was a really supportive group of tutors and fellow students which really allowed you to explore.
Who was your favourite member of staff and why?
We had a few really interesting teachers so I don’t have one particular favourite. Brian was our technician, and he had trained, much like the other tutors, as an apprentice bookbinder at London College of Printing. He was really helpful and supportive, as were the other bookbinders: Terry Buckley, Mike Brunwin and Ken.
Do you still keep in contact with anyone you met at LCC?
Yes, quite a few actually. A few classmates of mine from my year kept in close contact and worked together on projects in the first few years after graduation. Because of the LCBA, I’m in touch with a fair few fellow alumni of the course – which is great. While I was planning the opening of the Centre, I looked to them for support and input, as well as help moving in!
I am also in touch with my old tutors: Daphne Plessner, who actually recently left LCC to move to Vancouver, was a great help for me when I was setting up the Centre, as was the old course leader, Mike Brunwin, who’s now retired.
What was the best bit about being a student and living in London?
It seems a very long time ago now! Moving to London in 2003 was fantastic. It really opened my eyes to the sheer amount of stuff to see and do! I think it’s the same for many students, a lot of who are moving away from home for the first time. Initially, it’s quite a daunting thing, but moving into halls or shared accommodation and attending college really helps you settle in to London life.
Tell us about London Centre For Book Arts
London Centre for Book Arts (LCBA) is an open-access educational and resource centre dedicated to book arts. We are based in what was once the heart of London’s print industry in Fish Island, near Hackney Wick in east London.
The Centre’s mission is to keep book-making skills alive, by offering expertise and teaching in bookbinding, letterpress printing, papermaking, and related disciplines. LCBA also offers studio space and equipment rental to members working in the book arts.
What inspired you to take on this mammoth task?
I graduated in 2006, and after three of the best years learning these new skills and developing my practice, I was keen to continue once I’d graduated. There was nothing available for me at that time – no workshops or studios with open access or membership, and I wanted to carry on making work in my own time. I also missed the community that we had at college. So I decided to start buying my own equipment: bookbinding presses, printing equipment, stuff like that. It continued to a point where I had too much – I think I got a little carried away – so I thought the best idea would be to share access to this wonderful stuff, and so that’s where the idea started.
I did a research trip to the USA in 2011, where I visited loads of different book arts centres and print studios, and soon after I returned was lucky enough to acquire the collection of the Nautilus Press – a private press run by Jane Reese (who used to teach at London College of Printing in the 80s). This equipment was the final piece of the jigsaw, and really gave me a push to find a space and move all of the equipment into it.
What drives you to keep going?
While the LCBA is still fairly new (I opened officially in February) there is still so much for us to do. I run the space with my partner, and together we’re planning lots of exciting developments: we’re hoping to seek funding to develop a public programme, to build a library, and much more. It’s tremendously exciting.
I also relish the thought of working with new faces: studio membership has recently launched, and I’m excited at the potential that has for recent (and not so recent) graduates and artists working in books.
Anything else you want to accomplish away from LCBA?
Professionally? I want to learn more. I’d like more time to myself, to work on my own practice. I’d also like to travel more: this year I’m taking a trip to Japan – hopefully I’ll get to do more of this in the future!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received and what advice would you pass on to current students?
Strike while the iron’s hot. Both what’s been given, and what I’d pass on...
What do you value most about being part of the alumni community?
It’s great that there are so many diverse characters all with this connecting thread. It’s a great common ground to share with others, particularly in the creative community.
For more information about how to get involved with the London Centre for Book Arts, including membership, studio access and specialist workshops, visit the LCBA website.