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Alex Heslop

MA work

Open Shop: a Reassessment of London's Printing Trades, 1980-1992.

My dissertation examines how the printing industry changed in East London between 1980–1992. It not only directly challenges the dominance of existing narratives of newspaper production, but also sheds light on the mechanics of slow and complex industrial transformation. I argue that print production de-industrialised and emerged as a ‘service’, as the result of social networks within the industry deconstructing and reorganising.  

Underpinned by statistical analyses, oral histories, as well as design historical object-based and archival document research, I articulate a more realistic image of the industry network. By doing so, I offer a set of clearly-articulated methods to better understand the complexities of print production and its relationship with wider technological, political and economic contexts. Moreover, my dissertation contributes to our knowledge of how design work was understood at the time of a major shift in British post-war history and offers an alternative methodological approach to histories of print, geographies of production and to histories of industrial transformation. 


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2016

  • My work explores printing practices, which has stemmed from my background as a printer, illustrator and graphic designer. My research interests lie mostly within London and my chronology ranges from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, with a particular interest in the late twentieth century. 
  • Degrees

  • BA Fine Art (printmaking) with Art History, The University of Aberystwyth, Wales, 2008.
  • Experience

  • Founding partner & director of The Letterpress Collective, Bristol, 2013–present; Freelance illustrator and graphic designer, 2007–present ; Event producer, The Do Lectures, Cardigan, Wales & California, 2009–2013; Research internships, The British Museum and The British Library, 2008–2009
  • Conferences

  • 'Open Shop: London's Printing Trades 1980-1992', Printers Unite! Print and Protest from the Early Modern to the Present, The Marx Memorial Library, London, November 2016