In 1983 Rudy VanderLans, Zuzana Licko, Marc Susan, and Menno Meyjes began Emigre, a magazine about “…the global artist who juggles cultures, travels between them, and who is fluent in the cultural symbols of the world. An émigré.” Early issues meandered through essays, interviews, fiction and poetry. VanderLans directed wild layouts that ignored the so-called rules instilled by modernist design pedagogues. After four issues Susan and Meyjes had left the magazine, allowing VanderLans and Licko to steer Emigre toward being a design magazine that explored experimental and usually computer-driven work like their own.
By Dan Reynolds
Large or small, letters seem to inhabit their own universe. Re-arrangeable in any combination, they can spell out all conceivable messages, be they poetic, bureaucratic, or anything in between. But sometimes a text is just about its letters themselves, not an object to be read, but one to be looked at. Type specimens have taken various forms over the centuries, from posters to postcards and from primers to pamphlets. In fact, this web ‘page’ that you are reading now is also a type specimen, at least of some sort. In our digital age, creating type specimens has become easier than ever before. But what did our predecessors do 100 years ago, or even 500 years ago?