Blue Pencil

Blue Pencil is a “slog”: a slow blog. It does not get updated daily or even on a regular schedule. Instead, it gets updated when there is something of value to be posted. Postings often take a long time to prepare and appear at intervals of a few weeks or even months. Sometimes there is a flurry of postings within the span of a few days. Blue Pencil may be unpredictable in its frequency, but not in its purpose. Blue Pencil is fiercely dedicated to the 3Rs: research, reading and writing.

Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notes 1983–1995, part 8C

READING 1995–1999 : Letterforms
The notes reproduced here are scattered throughout the Reading 1995 folder, some together and others on their own. Since Michael’s file names have not been entirely reliable I have chosen to gang these notes rather than try to guess exactly how they would have fit into his teaching sequence. They are about cutting, carving and engraving letterforms: in linoleum, wood, stone, steel and copper. The techniques bridge the worlds of calligraphy, drawn letters and type design.
Michael divided the engraved …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notes 1983–1995, part 8B

READING 1995–1999 : Letterforms
This continuation of Michael’s notes for his Reading Letterforms course focuses on the segment devoted to drawn letters. The first of these pages is dated 1996 which suggests that this is the spring half of the class that began in the fall of 1995. Two are dated 1998 and 1999 respectively.

“Drawing is all about line, in lettering outline. Shapes are defined by drawn outlines. Solid forms are filled in with ink applied by brush. The pencil …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notes 1983–1995, part 8A

This is the last set of teaching notes that Michael left me. He grouped them in a folder labeled Reading 1995, but some of the pages are dated 1996, 1998 and 1999. It appears that his thinking about the contents of his Letterforms course had crystallized in 1995 and that after that he felt no need to prepare his usual set of notes. Instead, he amended his existing ones as new ideas for exercises or new insights came to him.
READING …
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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 …
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The Multiplicity of Type-Faces

There is always someone complaining that there are too many typefaces. In The Printing Art for August 1916 the editors, under the heading “The Multiplicity of Type-Faces” (pp. 562–563) have this to say:
Seriously, there is little need for the great variety of type-faces now offered. Of course, we require enough to relieve monotony in the appearance of our books and magazines, and to give proper emphasis in the advertising pages, but aside from this there is no absolute necessity for …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 6

Michael began teaching in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading in the “early ‘nineties’” he says in Adventures with Letters. The finding aid for the Michael Harvey Papers at the University of Reading indicates that he began his Letterforms course in 1993. He retired from teaching in 2002. The teaching notesbooks for the Reading class only cover the years 1993–1995. Some of these pages are reproduced in Adventures with Letters (see pp. 176–179).
READING 1993 …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 5

PORTLAND 1991 : Calligraphy Northwest : Drawing Away from Calligraphy / Stencil Lettering / Masterclass in Letter Design
Apparently Michael taught three classes—an unusually high number—at Calligraphy Northwest, the 11th annual calligraphy conference, which took place in Portland, Oregon. “Drawing Away from Calligraphy” was another of his attempts to get calligraphers to broaden their horizons and to lessen their dependence on broad-edged tools.





A stencil workshop was a natural for Michael. He liked stencils for two reasons: …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 4

BELGIUM 1989 : Written & Drawn Italic

This workshop was a new topic for Michael in a new venue: Belgium. “22+ students. Most English-speaking. Expecting to learn something particular from me,” he wrote, “ so it must be drawing and design. My English background could be a help or a hindrance. We’ll see!” Since Michael was not a calligrapher, italic was not a typical subject for him.

That Michael had some difficulty with this workshop is evident in these notes: …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 3

Michael made a teaching trip to Canada in 1988, visiting calligraphy groups in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa: the Toronto Calligraphy Guild, La Société des Calligraphes de Montréal and the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa. He taught several different workshops instead of repeating one as he had on his 1984 West Coast trip.
TORONTO 1988  : The Art of Drawing Letters and Lettering for Publicity

Item 3—“Demonstration of freehand drawing technique”—is illustrated on the right-hand page where Michael is building up a letter …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 2

ATLANTA 1986


There are no clues in the notebook pages that Michael gave me as to what this workshop was about, but it may have been another one devoted to Creative Lettering.
EXETER 1986 : Lettercutting
If my memory is correct, this workshop was part of a conference organized by lettering artist David Harris at Exeter College of Art & Design.

“Writing makes forms directly, the broad pen defining the edges as it moves
“Incising works towards the edges from the centre …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 1

The last time that I talked to Michael Harvey was via a series of email exchanges in the fall of 2012 in connection with his autobiography, Adventures with Letters: A Memoir*. Earlier in the year I had orchestrated a preview of A Life with Letters, its original title, in Codex 2 and for Imprint; and in September I had reviewed  the book upon its publication for Eye magazine (no. 84). Michael’s response to the review was succinct but …
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Blue Pencil no. 33—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: D entries

D [1910–1919]
D001
Oxo | unknown | packaging graphics | Oxo | 1910
[Helena Michaelson]
images: 5
text: 4
apparatus: 4
Is the front image of an Oxo tin small because it is reproduced at real size? The caption does not say. There are also no dates for two of the three images on the back of the card. Image no. 3 is 1957 or later, based on Michaelson’s text which says that foil wrapped cubes of Oxo did not appear until that year.
Michaelson describes the lettering of Oxo as “slightly …
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Blue Pencil no. 32—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: C entries

C [1900–1909]
C001
Combinaisons Ornamentales | Alphonse Mucha, Maurice Verneuil and Georges Auriol | book | Librairie Centrale des Beaux Arts | c. 1900
[Simon Bell]
images: 3
text: 3
apparatus: 0
Why show six pages from Combinaisons Ornamentales on the front? This is not typical of the Archive’s approach and it does a disservice to the book. The back has more small images: the binding/cover and three more pages. There are no captions. This means that most readers are unlikely to realize that the small upper right image on the …
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Blue Pencil no. 31—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: B entries

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design
(London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012)
Commissioning editor: Emilia Terragni
Project editors: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ruff and Davina Thackara
CARDS
B [c. 1800 to 1899]
B001
Printers’ Fist | various | symbol | international | c. 1800
[Caroline Archer]
images: 3
text: 4
apparatus: 3
The front image of an array of 88 fists is nice, but not as graphically compelling as a single fist would have been (or even three stacked up)—assuming one wants to frame the card. (Neither is it as visually exciting …
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Blue Pencil no. 44—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: the box reconsidered

Today, the front flap of my copy of The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design suddenly fell off. I have had the box open for the past few weeks while preparing this series of Blue Pencil posts, but I never expected the flap to be so fragile that it couldn’t bear the strain of being folded down for so long. It was attached to the front with only a few dabs of glue. For now the lid is still intact.
This circumstance …
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Blue Pencil no. 42—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: Contents

Since Phaidon failed to include a table of contents in the booklet accompanying The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design (London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012), I have decided to perform that public service for those who have bought the box. I have listed the cards in ID order as they appear in the box when shipped. For each ID number I have indicated the title, designer and date of the item as rendered by Phaidon. I have …
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