This is the doorway to The Claremount, an apartment building in Manhattan. I think that it was built in the 1890s. Those letters over the door just reached out and grabbed me from across the street and I had a typeface coming on.
Artist Joseph Kosuth’s 1965 work One and Three Chairs presented a static composition that represents an idea three ways. It was heady stuff, addressing what conceptual artists saw as a crisis of reconciling the realization of concepts with the concepts. One of the three material representations in One and Three Chairs was an enlarged photostat of the dictionary definition of the word chair, making text both a literal and metaphorical focus in a work of art. It was not the first time text had been used in art, but it was a key moment in the conceptual art movement of the time, followed by decades of conceptual artists using text to convey their ideas.
Perhaps the most difficult part in compiling this list is not what to include, but what to leave out. There are, then, many other typefaces that should be in this list, but aren’t. Perhaps some of your favourites from 2009 coincide with mine; perhaps they don’t — I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Without further ado:
Hoping that everyone is feeling refreshed, invigorated and inspired after Christmas and New Year. That we are now in 2010 is arbitrary, but it is at the same time a marker, the end of something, and the beginning of something else; a kind of armistice, an opportunity to dump all the bad, and begin a anew with the good. Well, that’s quite enough verbiage from me. May I present to you the first week in type of the 10s.
Vesper was developed over the course of almost three years. For this article, I’ve divided the process into two stages: #1 during my studies at the University of Reading; and #2 After Reading. Hopefully through this highly-condensed-yet-still-rather-wordy account of this project you will learn some interesting bits regarding my first major type family, the design process, and the MATD program.
I don’t usually do these single-item posts, but just had to share this. An alphabet created using items from the Mitchell Library’s broad and eclectic collections—with wonderful results. Some of the letters are accompanied by videos explaining the origins of their constituent parts.
In celebration of their centenary.
Thanks to @ashmorris
Yakov G. Chernikov (1889–1951), was a Russian artist, designer, and architect learned in classical and modern styles. As a draftsman he was on par with Piranesi and Rembrandt; his most forward-thinking drawings resemble the style of Yoshitaka Amano. This combination of knowledge and skill made him one of the most accomplished Russian Constructivist writers and architects; Chernikov designed sixty buildings—although most were not built—and wrote numerous books about architecture and graphic design.
In the late 1920s the state-controlled world of Soviet architecture began to turn against the Constructivists. In 1932 Stalin tired of the pointless political debate between Constructivism’s remaining supporters and many critics. He barred architects from political speech and limited Soviet architecture to classical revival. Unable to practice in his Constructivist style, Chernikov began drawing architectural fantasies that were usually not intended to be built. But he still needed work free from politics and in the 1940s he began to study and draw typefaces, an activity unlikely to draw attention.
Nadine Chahine is a type designer for Linotype GmbH, where she is also Branding & CI Manager, and Arabic Specialist. She designed Frutiger Arabic with Adrian Frutiger and Palatino Arabic with Hermann Zapf, for which she won the Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the TDC. Today I’m excited to announce that Nadine’s Neue Helvetica Arabic has just this minute been released.
Last year Mathieu Christe and Berton Hasebe wrote a very thorough article detailing the general day to day of the Type and Media masters program. With this article we hope to outline an historical overview of the course and provide a brief look at the final project typefaces from the 08/09 class.
Type Design at KABK
The Type and Media masters program has a long history at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague. The roots of the program can be traced back to Gerrit Noordzij’s Letter Programme within the graphic design department at KABK during the 1970s. Some of Noordzij’s students during that time were Petr van Blokland, Erik van Blokland, Frank Blokland, Jelle Bosma, Luc(as) de Groot, Christoph Noordzij, Peter Matthias Noordzij, Albert-Jan Pool, Just van Rossum and Peter Verheul.
The course that began as a foundation in type design evolved by the early 1990s into the Postgraduate Course in Typography and Type Design. Alumni of that era include Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs and Sami Kortemäki (collectively known as Underware), Paul van der Laan, Eyal Holtzman, Albert Pinggera, Corina Cotorobai, Jarno Lukkarila and Pieter van Rosmalen.
In 2002, the Type and Media program officially started in its present incarnation. Currently, the ten-month course is divided into two distinct parts, and limited to eleven students a year. The first five months comprise eight different weekly classes that expose students to numerous fundamental aspects of the type design process. The second half of the course is focused mainly on the development of individual final projects.
One of the aspects of the course that is most well known is the tradition of calligraphy classes as a foundational component of the course. Three types of writing are explored: pointed pen with Erik van Blokland, broad nib with Frank Blokland, and brush calligraphy with Peter Verheul. The primary focus of the calligraphy classes is to learn the basic rules of contrast, the structure of the letter, and to attain a sensitivity towards spacing. This part of the course is based around the legacy and teaching method of Gerrit Noordzij, and while many of the current teachers were at one point students of Noordzij, each teacher has a unique view on the application of Noordzij’s theories.
I was excited when Taschen announced the first volume of Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles, described as “This exuberant selection of typographic fonts and styles traces the modern evolution of the printed letter”*. Such language, including the title, is disingenuous, because this book is not a history. Type does contain a short essay by coauthor/coeditor Cees W. de Jong about type history, but it is poorly written and riddled with inaccuracies. Similarly bad are the captions that introduce each specimen. Many are obvious or inane statements such as “It was an honor to have one’s name set on such a lovely publication.” (p. 88), “This printer from Amsterdam evidently had a lot of customers in the countryside.” (p. 100) and “Back in time! Two lines, two different typefaces in a fantasy world.” (p. 243). Overall the writing feels like a draft rushed to press; it should have been fact checked and edited by a historian.
Let’s face it, most of the general public does not really understand typography. So when I first tell people that I attended something called ‘Type Camp’ this summer, I tend to garner a lot of puzzled looks. But, smiling bemusedly, the typographic outsider with whom I am conversing, is likely to then ask a question not so far off from my own the first time I heard about Type Camp: what, exactly, do you do there?
Well, explore typography, of course.
I signed up for Type Camp not quite knowing what to expect, but I knew one thing for certain: that the past two years at my in-house design job had burned my creativity to a crisp. There are many things I love about my work, but I was beginning to feel like I had settled into a rut. So when I found a link to the Type Camp website, my heart jumped. Started in 2007 by teacher and typographer Dr. Shelley Gruendler, Type Camp professed to be a living-learning creative retreat for designers and typophiles — a seemingly perfect way to escape my creative slump. It sounded absolutely glorious to travel to an island off the coast of Vancouver, BC to study typography with four inspiring teachers and a group of like-minded designers. I couldn’t wait.
And rightfully so. From the moment I stepped off the ferry onto Galiano Island, I felt as if I’d entered an impossibly magical creative dreamland. The chance to study typography with Shelley, Stephen Coles, Tiffany Wardle (aka Typegirl), and Marian Bantjes, seemed like a dream enough. But add that to a lovely landscape filled with fresh-scented pine, luscious blackberry bushes, and pristine sea air, and I was convinced that things couldn’t get much better.