Tutorials

Tutorials are instructive comments on various aspects of the practice of calligraphy, lettering and typography. They are based on my experiences as a designer and as a teacher.

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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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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The Rchive no. 12—No. 1 in New York

The mosaics in the New York City subway system display a surprisingly subtle variety of letterforms. This is especially evident in the stations along the Broadway/Seventh Avenue line (no. 1) between South Ferry and Times Square that have their names rendered in seriffed letters: Rector Street, Cortlandt Street, Franklin Street, Canal Street, Houston Street, Christopher Street / Sheridan Square, 18th Street, 23rd Street, 28th Street and 34th Street / Pennsylvania Station. An easy way to see these differences is through …
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The Rchive no. 11—two from São Paulo

Metal R on apartment building in São Paulo. Photograph by Paul Shaw (2013).
This R is typical of the lettering style found on São Paulo buildings erected in the 1950s and 1960s. Its light weight and extended proportions distinguish it from the sans serif letters commonly found on American buildings during this period. Was it brought to São Paulo from Italy by Italian architects such as Giancarlo Palanti (1906–1977) and Achillina Bo Bardi (1914–1992)?
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The Rchive no. 9—The Return of the Classical Roman Letter

The New York Life Insurance Company Building (1899; now the New York City Criminal Court Building) was designed by Stephen Hatch but completed by McKim, Mead & White after his death in 1894. The building’s address is affixed to the side in copper letters that have classical Roman overtones not normally found at that time. They are surely the work of McKim, Mead & White rather than Hatch, reflecting the firm’s interest in Beaux Arts architecture with its adoption of …
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The Rchive no. 10—Faux Art Deco

R from Tick Tock Diner, Manhattan. Photograph 16 February 2013.
The neon is real but the Art Deco letter R is not. This is a detail of the word “DINER” from the Tick Tock Diner in Manhattan, kitty corner from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. It is the New York City outpost of a famous diner in Clifton, New Jersey of the same name.
The original—which I have never seen—is an iconic American diner judging by the many photographs online …
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The Rchive no. 5—The Art Deco Empire

The Empire State Building (1931). Detail of “LAKE ONTARIO” from map of New York State in Fifth Avenue lobby. Photographed 16 February 2013.
The Empire State Building is not only one of the greatest examples of architecture in New York City, but it contains some of the greatest lettering. On the back wall of the Fifth Avenue lobby is a stunning map of New York State (the Empire State) made of marble, steel and bronze. The lettering of cities, rivers, …
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The Rchive no. 6—Stencil

R from unknown storefont on the south side of West 34th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan, New York. Photographed 16 February 2013.
I stupidly photographed this R in the entryway to a store without recording its name. It is Times Roman but the stencil effect, coupled with the light (only visible in the stem), takes it out of the mundane. Who knew Times Roman could be so alluring?