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Hurtwood Press achieves fine art print quality for its books with HP Indigo digital presses


“While digital does
enable you to print smaller
runs, it can do much more
when seen in the context
of quality printing and

— Francis Atterbury
Hurtwood Press

In fine art and photography, it’s essential to get a print’s look and feel just right. Hurtwood Press, a UK-based book production company, specializes in achieving the precise color, light balance, and high print quality essential to these industries. Along with fine art books, the company also produces exhibition catalogues and special editions.

Quick facts

  • Hurtwood Press produces short-run books and nearly all proofs using HP Indigo digital presses.
  • The company has found that HP Indigo offers a wider color gamut and better results on uncoated paper than offset.
  • A catalogue printed on an HP Indigo digital press won two prestigious awards, including a 2010 British Book Design and Production Award.

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Among the range of printing tools partners Jo Hilton and Francis Atterbury have at their disposal, HP Indigo digital presses play a vital role in both product offerings and the production process. In addition to using HP Indigo digital presses to achieve stunning quality for short runs of books, Hurtwood also uses them for nearly every proof.

“Proofs on HP Indigo presses can be printed on the final substrate and presented to clients in very nearly the finished form,” Atterbury says. Plus, proofing on an HP Indigo digital press is often less expensive than other methods, and clients tend to request fewer changes when they can see the proof cut and bound.

Stunning print quality

Hurtwood has used HP Indigo digital presses since 2007, when Atterbury first used one for a short-run book for a private collector. Atterbury says he was staggered at how good the result was and impressed that it was achieved by a normal CMYK set.

Francis Atterbury

“HP Indigo presses can
more easily achieve a wider
color gamut than offset. To
achieve similar results with
offset could take three proofs,
4,000 sheets, and several
touch plates. ”

And the benefits go beyond color reproduction.

“HP Indigo presses can give better results on uncoated paper than offset,” he adds. “The blacks lie flat, whereas using other digital presses, the image can look shiny, and create too much gloss in the shadows.”

Perfect for short runs

Because Hurtwood lends its expertise to a wide variety of projects, print runs can vary from 20 to more than 10,000. Atterbury has found that shorter runs are particularly suited to HP Indigo digital presses, making the jobs cost-effective without sacrificing long-lasting image quality.

“While digital does enable you to print smaller runs, it can do much more when seen in the context of quality printing and publishing,” Atterbury explains.

For example, Hurtwood recently produced a high school yearbook. “The real point is to produce something that when, in thirty or forty years’ time, the former student brings the yearbook down from the loft, it doesn’t fall to pieces on opening—and still looks fresh.”

Award-winning production

In 2009, Hurtwood produced 350 copies of the catalogue Claude Monet for the Helly Nahmad Gallery’s 2009—2010 exhibition. The case-bound volume featured full-page bleed images of Monet’s paintings on uncoated paper.

The catalogue won the Financial Times’ Catalogue of the Year award and a 2010 British Book Design and Production Award in the Digitally Printed Books category.1

“Printing this book on an HP Indigo press was an obvious choice, based solely on quality,” Atterbury says. “With litho, the colors would become too dark. I wanted a cleaner look that delivered the exciting lift off the page like one experiences with the paintings.”

Atterbury explains that although every publisher has a budget, that doesn’t mean quality needs to suffer. HP Indigo digital presses can help deliver that quality at a cost that fits into a range of budgets.

“The goal we share with our clients is to produce the
book we want to see. For some jobs, the qualities of
digital printing are best suited to the work.”

1 Awarded by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), Oxford Brookes University, and The Publishers Association.