This video, produced by Monotype features letterpress artist Alan Kitching. Kitching has been working in the field of design and printing most of his life. He is 100 percent analog. Absolutely no computers involved in any way, shape or form. This is a wonderfully shot and edited piece that truly honors the art and craft of letterpress design, and execution.
Grey London has produced a wonderful little interview with Monotype’s Dan Rhatigan on the worlds most eco friendly typeface, “Ryman Eco”. In the three and a half minute short film Rhatigan talks about not only the intricacy of type design, but the larger picture of how inkjet printers impact the environment. The film reveals how this beautiful, and delicate typeface was designed to reduce inkjet, and laser toner use by 33%. We all use computer printers on a regular basis, yet very few of us think about the issues Rhatigan brings up. I love how the film focuses on more than the font itself, and how it delves into the design thinking, the design problem solving that reaches beyond just these letter forms.
Last November Monotype hosted an exhibit in London showcasing the transition of type design from analog to digital. The show Pencil to Pixel was recently on display in New York City at the Tribeca Skyline Studio. I didn’t attend either week long event but I wish I had. Below is a video highlighting the London show, and this link takes you to the Pencil to Pixel website which makes really nice use of full frame video running below the page content. (the footage is from “Linotype the Film”.)
The San Francisco Chronicle posted a short video by Mike Kepka on Vimeo about a week ago. I have been meaning to re-post it but just haven’t had time until now. It is a film about 80 year old Lewis Mitchell who has been working as a Monotype setter for 62 years. The film is a beautiful vignette into the life of a man who loves his job, the craft associated with it, and why he keeps on working well past age 65. Truly inspiring. Below the film is the editorial from the Chronicle’s Vimeo post. It worth reading as well.
A recent Thursday at 10:23 a.m.: In the basement of Arion Press, where they still print books the old-fashioned way, Lewis Mitchell slid open a box of parts used to change the font size on the Monotype casting machines he has maintained for 62 years.
“I thoroughly enjoy the sound of the machines turning, and seeing the type come out is a joy,” Mitchell said.
He can tell by the sound of the moving springs and levers if something is awry with his machines — a skill he said all good technicians should have. Four different owners have run the business since Mitchell walked through the doors at age 18, and he has had several opportunities to leave, including a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that he declined.
Now 80, Mitchell can’t imagine retiring from the job he loves so much. When Mitchell started making this kind of type, it was really the only way to print things, and now he doesn’t know how many books he’s helped print over the decades. There were once type-casting operations in most major U.S. cities, but now the practice is almost extinct.
There are only two companies left in the world that cast type for printing presses, and Arion is by far the largest. Mitchell has four grown children and nine grandchildren, but he calls the 20 type-casting machines his “babies.” “I treat them with kindness. I don’t use a hammer on them or an oversized screwdriver.” The first machine, which started the company during 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, is still its best machine — proof that Mitchell’s methods work.
“My dad taught me from square one if you going to do something, you’re going to do it right or you don’t do it.”