I’ll admit it, I’m a type junkie. I have been for a long time, and there is no 12 step program to cure me of this affliction. It’s part of being a graphic designer, and someone who has spent the better part of his adult life playing with, using and building with typography to create something new and unique.
This morning when I was out on the Hamilton Wood Type Museum website (yes there is a museum dedicated to wood typography) I came across a book for sale that will be going into my reference stack asap.
“Alphabets of Wood. Luigi Melchiori and the history of Italian wood type” is the most recent addition to the latest wave of books dedicated to the history of wood type used in printing presses before digital, and before metal type became the standards of the day. It is also the first book to seriously look at the historical and cultural significance of Italian wood type manufacturers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“This book sprung from an encounter with the life and work of Luigi Melchiori, a skilled craftman who lived and worked during the late ninteenth and early twentieth centuries in Crespano del Grappa – a small community at the foothills of the Alps in the Veneto Region. It is a tribute to a maker of alphabets of wood. The authors, James Clough and Chiara Scattolin, develop a private and professional artist’s profile, the history of the wood type and its progressive use in typography. The archive “Luigi Melchiori” is part of Tipoteca Italiana’s collections.”
Grey London has produced a wonderful little interview with Monotype’sDan 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.
“Atypical Typography” from Warsaw based artist and designer Pawel Nolbert, is a series of posters that explore the form, rhythm, and flow of letter forms. The posters are a created from sculptural elements that are figurative illustrations designed to capture the expressive nature of writing. Each of the elements were built from artistic, painterly gestures that were formed, then photographed to create the final B1 sized print at 8100 x 8100 pixels at 300DPI. What a great look. Frankly I’d like to have one of the original sculptures used to make the final image. Nolbert’s impressive client list includes Google, Adobe, Sony, Nike, Chrysler, Nepresso, and more. There are more examples of his work at the link above.
There was a time not to long ago when people actually had good hand writing. Taught in primary school, practiced for hours, good penmanship was king. Slowly though, over the last twenty or so years it has begun to dissolve. Why write by hand? Why write in cursive? Why practice the art of creating letterforms by hand when you can type, touch or talk, and have your primary communication device correct your spelling on the fly. Don’t get me wrong I am not anti-technology. I am however in love with beautifully crafted hand lettering that demonstrates the craft of a dying art form. Thanks to people like lettering artist Seb Lester the art form stays alive and well. Hopefully his work will encourage others to take up a pen and create with ink on paper.
Cloths of Heaven’ is Lester’s interpretation of “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”, by renowned Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The video shows the creation of a the master art for a serigraph poster, which was also translated into a limited edition embroidery piece via The London Embroidery Studio. The attention to detail, and the craftsmanship that went into this is outstanding. It is a continuation of his exploration of the theme of beauty in the context of letterform design, and the mastery of the calligraphic arts. Big hat tip to Seb Lester.
“Yeats’s poem references ‘embroidered cloths’ and ‘gold and silver threads’, so I wanted to try to make the screen print look like an exquisite and timelessly beautiful piece of highly ornamental needlework. I’ve drawn from Medieval, Renaissance and 18th-century sources but I have also tried to integrate personal, progressive and irreverent flourishing ideas. The result is a hybrid stylistic treatment that I think could only exist in the 21st century.”