Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983-1995, part 7
SAN FRANCISCO 1994 : Drawn to Type
San Francisco was one of Michael’s favorite cities. He enjoyed its topography, its climate, and especially its streets and signage. And he enjoyed its thriving calligraphy and letterpress printing scene. I think these notes may be for a talk at that year’s ATypI conference which took place in San Francisco. The content seems to be a dry run for his autobiography.
Note the A which Michael has labeled “Improved”, meaning that it is better than the one in large sizes of Caslon 540. What has he changed? The hairline strokes are slightly stronger; the serifs are longer; and the apex has been flattened. Subtleties, but ones that add up to a better letter. Just as he claimed.
The choice of the word “STONE” is a pun. Not only a reference by Michael to his work as a lettercarver, but also a reference to his mentor Reynolds Stone. What he learned from Stone directly and from Eric Gill indirectly was the importance of “Making things instead of drawings for things.”
Below are two rare instances of Michael using a broad-edged tool to create letters. “Calligraphy was the mother of type: now it’s the handmaiden.”
The pasted-on words at the bottom are all copied from book jackets that Michael designed. The same is true for those at the top of the next page, though I don’t recognize the “Bubble Gum” lettering.
“Jacket lettering ephemeral, type permanent. Jacket design quick turn around to meet deadlines. Short term. Type design long term. Substance. Worth doing.”
ST. LOUIS 1994 : Drawing Letters Freehand
I think these notes were for a workshop sponsored by the St. Louis Calligraphy Guild.
Despite his training as a draughtsman, Michael preferred freehand drawing to technical drawing. He was more interested in drawing as an exploratory technique than in drawing as a means of tracing.
The same “fluid line” that appeared in Michael’s sketch of “SAN FRANCISCO” earlier reappears here in “ST. LOUIS”. There is a lot of Art Nouveau in these designs.
On the right-hand page Michael is urging students to explore variations in the “curves” of letters. His illustrations are of three kinds of flattened curves. The ﬁrst is a condensed letter; the second is a narrow letter in which a rectangular shape has been softened by curving the corners; and the third is a condensed letter in which the curves have been fractured. The latter is the underlying idea behind Michael’s typeface Mezz (Adobe, 1994).