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I LOVE TYPOGRAPHY

My Favorite Fonts of 2021

It’s that time of year again. Although, for many reasons 2021 is best forgotten, it was a great year for type design. Join me as I look back and talk about my top ten favorite typefaces published in 2021.

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Emoji b4 emoji

Tens of millions of broadsides were printed from the very earliest days of printing. Many were cheap and ephemeral, eventually being recycled or ending up in the trash. Others, like rebus and puzzle broadsides were novel and engaging enough to live longer lives. This is my very brief look at some early examples of these curious so-called hieroglyphic broadsides.

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Penny Dreadfuls & Murder Broadsides

The Industrial Revolution mechanized printing and reduced costs, leading to explosive growth in publishing. At the same time, an unprecedented increase in literacy produced millions of new readers and sparked a reading revolution. But what were these new readers to read? One of the century’s most popular genres, sold on the streets of Victorian England, was the penny dreadful. Cheap, entertaining and extraordinarily popular. This is their story.

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Black Print

The remarkable story of early African American print culture; its authors, editors, journalists, printers, and publishers. From protest pamphlets to the first Black newspapers, periodicals and books.

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The Writing Mistress

From around the beginning of the 1600s, there was a renewed interest in calligraphy. At the same time, women, known as writing mistresses, begin to teach handwriting and calligraphy to young women. Maria Strick in the Netherlands and Marie Pavie, perhaps from France, are the first two women to have their calligraphy copybooks published in print.

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Death of a Typeface

Robert Granjon (1513–90) was a French type designer who, in 1557, invented a new style of typeface which later came to be know as Civilité, after the civilité or etiquette books which the typeface often appeared in. Although Granjon wished for his Civilité to become the national typeface of France, it never really caught on, and it never seriously competed with Roman and Italic fonts.

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The First Roman Fonts

The Renaissance affected change in every sphere of life, but perhaps one of its most enduring legacies are the letterforms it bequeathed to us. But their heritage reaches far beyond the Italian Renaissance to antiquity. In ancient Rome, the Republican and Imperial capitals were joined by rustic capitals, square capitals (Imperial Roman capitals written with […]

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What are Optotypes? Eye Charts in Focus

My graphic design students love to design posters using the classic eye chart composition, and they frequently ask “What typeface should I use for this?” Not having a definitive answer has always been frustrating, so I decided to investigate to find out what typeface is used on eye charts.

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The Last Word on Helvetica?

Perhaps this article should have ended at the question mark in its title. And by the end of it, you may well concur. However, in the meantime, and before I get started — and I promise this won’t take long — let me be clear, I am not, I repeat, not (in bold for emphasis) a Helvetica hater.

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Murder in Italic

Most will be familiar with the name Francesco Griffo, born in Bologna in 1450, and forever associated with the Venetian printer-publisher Aldus Manutius for whom he designed and cut roman, Greek, and the first italic fonts. Their partnership was an especially fruitful one and their collaboration at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of […]

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