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.

Blue Pencil no. 13 Addendum—Standard Deviations

One of the nagging aspects of the Museum of Modern Art’s acquisition of digital fonts for its Architecture and Design collection is the cloaked identity of those that advised Paola Antonelli and the museum. I don’t presume to have an answer to who the advisors were, but I do have a list of those I believe they should have consulted.
Peter Karow, inventor of the Ikarus type design and production software that converted existing typefaces and artwork into …
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Bartolomeo Sanvito: A basic bibliography

This is a simple bibliography regarding Bartolomeo Sanvito for anyone interested in the Paduan calligrapher, whether or not they are able to afford the new book by Albinia de la Mare, Laura Nuvoloni et al. It is in chronological, rather than alphabetical, order so that the evolution of Sanvito scholarship can be traced.
De Kunert, Silvio. “Un padovano ignoto ed un suo memoriale de’ primi anni del Cinquecento (1505–1511),” Bollettino del Museo Civico di Padova 10 (1907), pp. 1–16 and 64–73.
Wardrop, James. …
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Bartolomeo Sanvito: The Life and Work of a Renaissance Scribe

Julius Caesar, Commentaria di Bello Gallico et Civile, fol. 4 c.1465
Bartolomeo Sanvito: The Life and Work of a Renaissance Scribe
(The Handwrting of the Italian Humanists II)
A.C. de la Mare and Laura Nuvoloni
edited by Anthony Hobson and Christopher de Hamel
with contributions from Scott Dickerson, Ellen Cooper Erdreich and Anthony Hobson
Paris: Association Internationale de Bibliophilie, 2009
463 pp., 196 images
$325.00
Designed by Humphrey Stone
Albinia de la Mare (1932–2001) spent the greater part of her working life as a paleographer investigating the life and …
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Blue Pencil no. 13—Standard Deviations (the exhibition)

Standard Deviations: Type and Families in Contemporary Design
Museum of Modern Art
Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator and Kate Carmody, Curatorial Assistant
2011
The Museum of Modern Art exhibition showcasing its new digital font acquisitions contains a short glossary of type terms. It is not only inadequate but inept. Here are all of the definitions and my comments on some of them.
Bitmap typeface 
A typeface in which the letterforms are composed of pixels, or “bits,” unlike a vector typeface, in which each letterform is rendered as …
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Blue Pencil no. 14—Salon Manicure

Claire Lambrecht of Salon interviewed me on April 5 about my book Helvetica and the New York City Subway System. It was a very cordial interview. She asked me several questions and then let me ramble, uninterrupted before her next question. The whole interview, which took about an hour, was tape recorded, with my permission, on her end. The published interview appeared online on April 11.
I have no major complaint about the interview, just a tiny one. My side of …
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From the Archives no. 18—Satz- und Druck-Musterheft 1938

Satz- und Druck-Musterheft 1938
Vorlagenheft für Setzer, Drucker, Werbefachleute, Graphiker und Reproduktionstechniker
Berlin: Verlag der Graphischen Monatsschrift “Deutscher Drucker”, 1938
Satz- und Druck-Musterheft 1938, a printing trades periodical, is another instance where I wish I was able to read more than a few words and phrases in German. (The translations here were done with the kind help of Indra Kupferschmid who also helped with proofreading the German.) It is a compendium of articles about printing, typography and design …
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From the Archives no. 17—More on Helvetica in the United States

This evening at the Type Directors Club I came across a type specimen entitled helvetica (all lowercase) issued by Empire Typographers, Inc., a type house in New York City, in February 1963. It was designed by Martin Friedman, a name that is unfamiliar to me. More importantly, it stated on the inside of the front cover, “Helvetica is now being cut in display sizes. The following will be available at Empire Typographers in the …
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Opinion redux—Deviations from Standard Deviations

I am gratified that the first out-and-out Blue Pencil opinion piece has received a warm welcome. However, several people have posted comments or emailed me privately with corrections or comments that need to be addressed.
1. David Lemon of Adobe has written to point out that, “Stone was the first original alphabetic typeface designed at Adobe, but was preceded by Carta, Sonata & the now-ubiquitous Symbol. (I agree the “originality” of Symbol could be disputed, since it’s stylistically an extension to …
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Opinion—Standard Deviations

On January 24 of this year the Museum of Modern Art announced that they were adding 23 fonts to their Architecture and Design Collection. I paid little attention at the time to the news, other than to nod approvingly at their choice of typefaces by Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler and Zuzana Licko. But last week I visited MoMA to see the Counter Space exhibition and afterwards I stumbled upon Standard Deviations: Types and Families in Contemporary Design, an exhibition of …
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From the Archives no. 16—Choosing a Typeface

Among the items that interested me in the former library of the High School of Graphic Communications Art have been books, pamphlets and articles that promise to shed light on an often overlooked aspect of 20th c. graphic design: the origins and development of the type director and the type house. Two of the names that often pop up as early figures in this area are Frederick M. Farrar and Gilbert P. Farrar. I assume that they were brothers, but …
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What’s Online no. 5—Inland Printer 1901

Here is another interesting tiny article from the 1901 Inland Printer which, like the 1899 one, is also available through Google Books. This time the article is related to printing. It is an early indication of interest in trying to use the new technology of photography to make typesetting easier, faster and more flexible. It is another reminder that we do not have an adequate history of phototypesetting, a technology that enjoyed a brief heyday but is increasingly forgotten.
Typesetting by …
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What’s Online no. 4—Inland Printer 1899

Several months ago I stumbled across the complete 1899 issues of the Inland Printer on Google Books. I downloaded the bound set and in skimming the pages this item caught my attention.
It is not creditable to the American people that they have to be “lawed” into respecting the flag of their country and the uniforms of the service. New York has found it necessary to pass a law making it a misdemeanor to publicly mutilate or deface the American flag. …
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A Case Study no. 1—Chocolate & Zucchini—Addendum

The typeface used for “Chocolate” in the title of Chocolate & Zucchini is ITC Eclat (1984) by Doyald Young (1926–2011) who unfortunately passed away recently. You can see some of his sketches for the font at: http://www.doyaldyoung.com/DC04.html
There are a number of tributes to Doyald online. Here are a few:
http://www.idsgn.org/posts/remembering-doyald-young/
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/arts/design/07young.html
http://fontfeed.com/archives/doyald-young-passes-away-at-age-84/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doyald_Young

Tutorial no. 2 addendum no. 2 Comments—Sure and Faust

Johnny (Alex Morgan), Demo and ecs,
I don’t usually post comments on Blue Pencil without filtering or editing them first, but I think these testaments about Faust and Sure are deserving of being put up as is. Thanks to all of you for clearing up my misidentification of the star as an A and for explaining that SURE and FAUST are two different graffiti writers. I am sorry to hear that Sure was killed in Afghanistan.
Thank you for reading Blue Pencil …
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From the Archives no. 15—Helvetica and Standard

Something else that I came across at the High School for Graphic Communication Arts were two issues of a former local trade magazine called Graphics: New York. Both were from 1965 and they help to pin down the moment when Helvetica arrived in New York and began to muscle out Standard (aka Akzidenz Grotesk).
The first issue is volume 2, number 1 from January 1965. On its back cover is an advertisement from Amsterdam Continental Types, the firm that imported European …
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From the Archives no. 14—Linoskala


The High School of Graphic Communication Arts in New York City, originally founded in 1925 as the New York School of Printing, is changing with the times and one casualty is its extensive library of books, periodicals and ephemera about the printing industries (papermaking, binding, type design and manufacture, typography, editing and proofreading, graphic design, photography, illustration and more). Fortunately, thanks to Abby Goldstein, the material is being saved from the dumpster and will be …
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