Welcome to a new monthly roundup of type-related info and entertainment. (This will be in addition to Sean Mitchell’s excellent This Week in Fonts feature.) This month, we have movies (about sign painters, and Eric and John Gill), books (about Porchez, Baskerville, Spiekermann, and typewriter art, as well as books by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson), a Flickr group that points at things, a free typography course with Ellen Lupton, ladies of letterpress, medieval marginalia, all sorts of lettering and typography, some fun new fonts, and more.
Weathered by time, distinct characteristics shining through, hand-painted signs are a product of a fascinating 150 year-old American history. What was once a common job has now become a highly specialized trade, a unique craft struggling with technological advances. Sign Painters, directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, stylistically explores this unacknowledged art form through anecdotal accounts from artists across the country including Ira Coyne, Bob Dewhurst, Keith Knecht, Norma Jeane Maloney and Stephen Powers.
The term “manicule” is from the Latin maniculum, or “little hand,” and denotes the typographic finger-pointing hands you’ve no doubt seen on retro posters and other typographic paraphernalia.
Here’s a lovely type specimen demonstrating a series of oversized manicules, as captured by Nick Sherman at the Flickr ☞ Manicule Pool.
This monograph on the work of Jean François Porchez, published by Atelier Perrousseaux éditeur, features contributions by Karen Cheng, Aaron Levin, Muriel Paris and Sumner Stone. Porchez is a French type designer and founder of Typofonderie. He was president of ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale), the leading organisation of type designers from 2004 to 2007.
Bart Vollebregt is a typographic designer based in the Netherlands. His work is characterized by lively experimental typography. He strives to tell stories with pure letterforms often with a poetic approach.
The OpenType Cookbook is a creation of font creator and software developer Tal Leming. OpenType features allow fonts to behave smartly. This behavior can do simple things (e.g. change letters to small caps) or they can do complex things (e.g. insert swashes, alternates, and ligatures to make text set in a script font feel handmade). This cookbook aims to be a designer friendly introduction to understanding and developing these features.
Yves Peters at CreativeMornings in Minneapolis, April 2014, talking about how typography can, er, service erotic movie poster design. One of his key conclusions: “Cooper Black is one of the sexiest typefaces ever.”
A visual essay exploring humanity’s relationship with stone by juxtaposing two masters: one of rock climbing, the other of letter cutting. The film looks at the way these two seemingly very different practices, united by a common material, share basic principles such as: creativity, discipline, dedication, muscle memory and balance. Created by Louis-Jack Horton-Stephens, an artist and filmmaker working in London.
A vast new resource of images including many typographic gems, thanks to Kalev Leetaru, a Yahoo! Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University. Head over to Flickr and search through an archive of 2.6 million public domain images, all extracted from books, magazines and newspapers published over a 500 year period. The Flickr project draws on 600 million pages that were originally scanned by the Internet Archive. And it uses special software to extract images from those pages, plus the text that surrounds the images.
(Found on OpenCulture.com.)
A collection of photographs of the Caslon Letter Foundry in the St Bride Printing Library, found while researching the work of William Caslon, the first British type founder.
Kansas Casual offers a more upright, gothic, and modern alternative to the conventional sign painter’s one stroke. Kansas provides a completely unique take on a overdone classic with proportions and crossbar heights inspired by the more friendly Chicago style.
Have you checked out Skillshare? It’s an online learning community to master real-world skills through project-based classes. They have a bunch of typo-centric courses, but one in particular stands out: a free course from world-class typographer, designer, and educator Ellen Lupton. The course is titled “Typography That Works: Typographic Composition and Fonts”, and delves into typographic terminology, practice, and artistry through lectures and design projects.
Typographic Universe by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson. Unlike most books on typography that present the “best” and most refined examples, the object here is to reveal the “lost” or “unseen” typographies in nature and our cities. From machine-made and sculptural forms to flora and fauna, from the fading ghost types on buildings from a pre-digital age to the subterranean forms found beneath our urban centers, from crowd-sourced creations to the popular vernacular, there is a universe of letterforms all around us.
Steven Heller is co-chair of the MFA Design: Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. His many previous books include New Modernist Type and Scripts. Gail Anderson is creative director of design at SpotCo, New York, and a former senior art director of Rolling Stone magazine.
Ladies of Letterpress is an international trade organization for letterpress printers and print enthusiasts. Their mission is to promote the art and craft of letterpress printing and to encourage the voice and vision of women printers. They strive to maintain the cultural legacy of fine press printing while advancing it as a living, contemporary art form, as well as a viable commercial printing method. Membership is open to both men and women. This is a community where you can read about adventures in commercial, fine press, art and zine printing, ask for advice and learn from other printers, share resources, and get inspiration for your own business and work — all for the love of letterpress.
In open beta for Mac, Affinity Designer touts itself as an incredibly accurate vector illustrator that feels fast and at home in the hands of creative professionals. It intuitively combines rock solid and crisp vector art with flexible layer management and an impressive range of high quality raster tools for finishing. With accuracy, quality and speed at the heart of every single design task, and the ability to finesse designs without switching apps, this fresh-faced multi-discipline illustrator lets creatives shine.
With full OpenType support, Affinity Designer just might be able eventually to dent the Adobe vector editing monopoly.
Elise is a sweet natured, layered display typeface, with a few layers but a wealth of options. From the feminine to the fun to the nostalgic, Elise is a capable and personable set. Best used big and with color, you’ll always find an occasion for Elise’s charm.
This short biography of John Baskerville was published in 1914 by Josiah Henry Benton, an American lawyer and author. Baskerville, born in Worcestershire, set up as a writing-master and letter-cutter in Birmingham, but later built up a business in ‘japanning’, the imitation of Japanese lacquer work, from which he made his fortune. He began working as a type-founder and printer around 1750, and made innovations not only in typefaces but also in paper, ink and printing machines. The quality of his books made them collectors’ items.
If you want a hard copy of the book, Cambridge University Press is planning to publish one in October.
Antonio Basoli was an Italian artist that lived during the 18th and the 19th century, and worked mostly in Bologna. Among other things, he created these beautiful architectural alphabet engravings called Alfabeto Pittorico.
The Neon Museum Boneyard in Las Vegas has a two-acre campus which includes an outdoor exhibition space, known as the Boneyard, featuring more than 150 signs, a visitors’ center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby, and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which houses additional rescued signs and is used for weddings, special events, photo shoots and educational programs.
Cataloging arabic typography from all corners of the world.
Type designer Sumner Stone has a new blog — and the first post details the creation of Adobe Type’s Trajan.
Letterpress printing in Berlin, with the illustrious Erik Spiekermann.
The visual biography Hello, I am Erik is the first comprehensive exploration of Spiekermann’s more than 30-year career, his body of work, and his mindset. Contributions by Michael Bierut, Neville Brody, Mirko Borsche, Wally Olins, Stefan Sagmeister, Christian Schwartz, Erik van Blokland, and others round out this insightful publication.
A fascinating chronicle of the development of the typewriter as a medium for creating work far beyond anything envisioned by the machine’s makers, embedded in which is a beautiful allegory for how all technology is eventually co-opted as an unforeseen canvas for art and political statement.
Word and images are often found in the margins of medieval books, placed there by scribes and readers. In most books, there was ample room to add such details, because on average a stunning fifty percent of the medieval page was left blank. It is in this vast emptiness, so often overlooked in editions of texts, that we may pick up key information about the long life of the book.
Monotype’s Dan Rhatigan on his passion for typography — and the fonts he loves so much he’s had them tattooed onto his body.
A precocious typographer!
A great article on visual systems in type designs: anything from a series of widths to a typeface with a spectrum of more than two or four weights (regular, bold and respective italics used to be common) to establishing parameters which allow for an interrelated combination of different styles (mixing sans with serif or with slab or any other hybrid version of these).
A really lovely (and useful) webfonts showcase of 16 microsites, to try to show Commercial Type’s webfonts in a different context and do something different from the usual ‘interactive type specimen’.
Type designer and self-proclaimed calligraphy avoider Mark Simonson traveled to the Gutenberg Museum’s print shop and created some lovely calligraphic pieces, using inking rollers. Read all about his adventure on Mark’s blog.
The Spirit of Letter Carving
There’s also an interview with Fergus here on ILT.
A long read, but worth it, is this treatise critiquing Bringhurst’s seminal reference text.
It’s the typography reference book you’ve heard of. The one everyone recommends to everyone else. If you’re a student it’s probably at the top of your list of resources; if you’re a teacher, you probably put it there. But is it a good book?
Check out Felipe Sant’Ana Pereira’s take on, what for some, will be unfamiliar scripts.
Photo credit: Yoann Gruson-Daniel.
Martina Flor’s short and instructive video demo on lettering sketching techniques.
And to conclude, something completely different and rather silly. Caslon Invaders.
Edited by Alec Julien
Sponsored by Hoefler & Co.