If it wasn’t for a committed stint in the underground squat rave scene of the 90s, Ben Freeman, owner and co-founder of Ditto Press, would have been publishing zines uninterrupted since the tender age of 12.
But having escaped the trappings of Dutch hardcore, metal, habitually at least, he returned to the publishing game, writing and shooting for Vice magazine before starting what is now one of London’s most respected and in-demand publishers of art and design- based work, Ditto Press.
Ditto Press’ resolute stance is to reflect its personal tastes. Taking pride in its heritage, it was decided from the off that it would be a mistake to shy away from the things it knew best.
"Everything comes down to having a background in underground music scenes, club culture, rave culture, hardcore, metal, punk, skinhead, all of these things that we’ve been involved in," says Freeman. Much of what Ditto publishes is notably avant-garde, often graphic even for the subculture it caters for.
"We have a lot more freedom, creatively and otherwise, than people had in the 70s and 80s. This has definitely been helped by underground publishing," Freeman explains.
In contrast to Ditto Press’ progressive content and liberal design alignment, what is equally as remarkable is the traditional print techniques they’ve become so synonymous with. Ditto was one of the first Risographic print studios in Europe.
But instead of resting on their laurels, Ditto have decided to move into the world of digital publishing, intending to prove how the two mediums can work in tandem.
Everything they release will, in some capacity, have a digital component, whether that’s entirely digital publications, books that come with an accompanying digital element, or narratives that simultaneously exist across print and digital.
"I’m very keen for us not to be seen as print fetishists or a retro vintage company, so we’re also doing GIF workshops and things like that," says Freeman.
Bevis, an illustrator who created the original Ditto Press logo, is always on the hunt for new mediums and is keen to try his hand with Surface Pro 3.
"We always wanted to make a swatch with him that showed off all the different print processes. We spend our whole lives explaining these processes to people," says Freeman. "Because it’s a Ditto thing it couldn't just be a real didactic boring swatch so we thought it would be good to have Jiro take the style of things he's done for us in the past and make something useful but also completely visually insane as well."