Les was invited to run letterpress workshops following retirement from the Faculty of Arts & Architecture at the University of Brighton, where he had worked for 25 years, latterly with students in Graphic Design and Illustration.
Following his apprenticeship as a letterpress printer in Sheffield he thought he had the right to sit on a beach in Spain for the rest of his days. Running out of money, he made his way to Holland and, almost penniless, found employment, back in printing, with Joh. Enschede en Zonen of Haarlem. After more travelling through Europe and Asia he worked at the Cambridge University Press and Saffron Press before a move into teaching.
He worked at Matthew Boulton Technical College in Birmingham for 7 years, teaching apprentice printers, and then was fortunate to be offered the post in Brighton. The prospect of working near the sea, in the warm south, was too tempting to refuse.
Brighton-born John Packer was an apprentice compositor in the printing industry. He worked on local newspapers and trade journals before engagement with London shipping daily ‘Lloyd’s List’.He later joined the International Publishing Corporation group. Continental companies included Central Trikeriet, Norway’s leading print publisher in Oslo. John Packer has been involved in all stages of letterpress printing until its demise as a mass commercial technology before it was superseded by offset-lithography.
From the mid 1980s until his recent retirement, John Packer was responsible for the letterpress workshop at the University of Brighton and taught students at all academic levels. Being compos mentis, and still in retention of 75% of his original teeth, John Packer regards it as ‘super cool’ to impart his knowledge and techniques to the starry-eyed, new aficianados of that obsolete 15th century technology.