The Tern Press was started in 1973 by Nicholas and Mary Parry. They purchased their first press from a local jobbing printer with prize money from a Welsh Arts Council open painting competition.
In Matrix 5, Parry stated: "Our initial aims were to relate each subject to a relative set of materials. to think of the book as an overall work of art, rather like an opera, with a body (stage - props - paper - binding), intellect (thoughts - words - libretto), and feelings (music - color - prints), to try, as in all art, to produce a form that lives and breathes. Thus our books are not conceived, designed, produced through process, but are perceived, arranged and produced through craft."