Tools of the Trade: Carli Hyland & The Grim Press

By Brianna Read Who better to discuss tools than a woman who grew up on a farm!  Carli Hyland of The Grim Press was kind enough to allow me to quiz her about the tools of the print trade. The Grim Press, so named because of its beginnings in a disused funeral parlour, was created by Carli and unites her many talents into one creative practice.

The aspect of Carli’s practice which first piqued my interest for this column was the fact that she uses both high and low tech tools to create. When pressed to narrow down her ‘can’t do without’ tool she replies “computer and pencil”. I am sure most creative folk are now nodding in agreement; most of us cannot do without either of these rather brilliant tools. One look at the beautifully crafted pencils made by Carli and the reverence is obvious, the humble pencil is given a whole new meaning when viewed through the lens of The Grim Press.

The toolkit of The Grim Press certainly does not end there. I enquire after a foil lined box housing an ultra violet globe on a long power cord and discover that Carli is quite at home in a hardware store. This contraption (another great word for a tool) was crafted entirely by Carli as a makeshift exposure unit for the print plates she hand makes. This is where the process really starts to sing… Carli sketches using a pencil, refines a design using the computer, prints the design, exposes the design to plate then prints the inked design onto paper using a small hand wound press. There is a wonderful blend of the old and new, the latest, greatest and the makeshift at The Grim Press!

I mentioned that Carli grew up on a farm and she credits this upbringing as the source of what she calls her ‘How can we make this work with what we’ve got?’ approach. The can-do nature of folks who have had to make do is a common thread in stories about the origin of a tool. I must point out that this aspect of Carli’s creative practice is not the first thing you would assume when viewing her work – the ideas of do-it-yourself and makeshift often bring to mind phrases like ‘not quite right’ and ‘rough around the edges’ – and while evidence of the handmade is present, all her designs, prints and publications are immaculate, high quality professional pieces. When I mention this nature of her work a discussion on the merits of mastery ensues…but that is fuel for another column I think!

With a background in visual arts, photography, book making, illustration and graphic design The Grim Press is a rare design practice offering clients a diverse range of design and print services. Carli’s clients can have custom made gift cards, logo design, hand bound books and publications and since the recent acquisition of a new printer using archival quality inks The Grim Press is also offering a high quality art printing service too. This is the made to measure of graphic design and printing!

Adding another string to her already full bow Carli is preparing to run workshops teaching willing students how to design and create their very own hand printed stationery and hand bound journals.

Carli's printmaking and bookbinding workshops begin in October at The Gasworks in Albert Park, Melbourne.

Carli Hyland and The Grim Press can be contacted by email at or through her website contact form here.


Brianna Read is a designer/maker based in Melbourne. Her knitwear label Jack of Diamonds Knits  employs traditional hand-made techniques in combination with machine knit technologies. Brianna’s multi-faceted creative practice encompasses design, production, works for exhibition and machine knitting workshops