Jan and Crispin Elsted

Our aims have not substantially altered since we began Barbarian Press in 1977: to publish poetry, translations, classics, and belles lettres in a style that both glorifies the text and reveals it to the reader with the least interference. We also have an important interest in wood engraving. Most of the press's books now include engraved illustrations.

Barbarian Press is also a teaching press, reflecting our determination to help keep the crafts of hand setting and printing alive. Several people have worked with us as apprentices, and every summer we offer a six-day intensive workshop introducing participants to the basics of letterpress design and printing and the history of the book. Some participants have gone on to set up their own presses, or to become binders or papermakers. This sharing of experience has always been important to us.

The press's style is relatively conservative. Unlike those of many fine press printers, our backgrounds are in literature and writing rather than graphic and studio arts, and we make our books to be read, not only looked at. We have won several awards for design, including Alcuin awards and the Oxford Judge's Award. We believe that nothing should come between the text and the reader; it is our view that typography should have, in Robert Bringhurst's phrase, `a statuesque transparency'. Like good film music, the best typography is effective to the degree that it is unobtrusive — supporting, not supplanting, the principal experience of the reader. Fine printing is a craft, not an art. The design and making of beautiful books is only secondarily a matter of self-expression: its first excellence is to serve the author and the reader.

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.