Articles

These are articles which I have written about calligraphy, lettering, type design, book design or graphic design for magazines, newsletters, catalogues and websites. Anthologized articles are also listed under BOOKS.

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Fascism on the Facade (2004)

Once again, I have stumbled across an old article of mine online. It is “Fascism on the Facade” in Print LVIII:III May/June 2004, the 2004 European Design Annual. It can be found on the website (under Lesson Plans) of graphic designer Brian R. Williams as part of his course “Defeating the Ideal: Art and Propaganda, from the Third Reich to the CIA” (HNLA101). I am adding the PDF of the article here Fascism on the Facade-Shaw and also displaying the pages.

The images are …
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ITC Bodoni: a review from 1995

I wrote this review of ITC Bodoni for Print magazine in their January/February 1995 issue. I recently stumbled across it online while teaching my History of Type class at the School of Visual Arts. It is posted on the Gale Group website under Gale Student Resources in Context. I have left the text as is, but have added some images since the Gale Group site has none.
Comparison of selected letters from ITC Bodoni 72 (top), ITC Bodoni 12 …
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Gilgengart: The tale of a typeface

Gilgengart Fraktur (often shortened to just Gilgengart) was the first typeface designed by Hermann Zapf. Its history is not only complicated but a bit muddy. This is because in the various books on his career, Zapf has given conflicting accounts of its origins and of the dates of each of its stages. Before trying to untangle the true story of Gilgengart, it should be noted that for all of his typefaces Zapf rightly makes a crucial distinction among the three phases …
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More conversations with Michael Harvey

History of Western letters integrating calligraphy, epigraphy and printing. Undated spread from notebook by Michael Harvey. Scan courtesy of Michael Harvey.
Last year (27 March 2012) Imprint published an interview I conducted with my longtime friend Michael Harvey, the triple-threat lettercarver/jacket designer/type designer. After it was posted I continued to email Michael with the intention of publishing an addendum to the interview. Unfortunately, after a month or so our conversation petered out as we both became absorbed in other things. In …
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Ten Simple Rules for Researching Letterforms

Last fall James Edgar of Camberwell College of Arts in London asked me to contribute something to Whatever Next: a discourse on typography, a small book the college was publishing. The request was last minute so I recycled an essay, “Ten Simple Rules for Researching Letterforms,” I had written originally for Gunnlaugur SE Briem.
I am reprinting my essay yet again for all of those unaware of The Briem Report 2012 or Whatever Next. This is also an opportunity to rectify a …
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Bibliologia 7

Bibliologia 7 (2012) is finally out—and so is my article “New Types for New Books Revisited”. The article is a survey of the typefaces used by several American and British book designers, ranging in age and in temperament. It is a tribute to the late Will Powers (1943–2009) and his essay New Types for New Books: What We Have, What We Need (2006) which argued that we should use only typefaces designed for digital production and …
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The Briem Report: Letterforms 2012

Thirty years ago Gunnlaugur SE Briem—Icelandic calligrapher, handwriting reformer, type designer and digital maven—edited a Special Calligraphy Issue of Visible Language (17.1). He has now followed it with The Briem Report: Letterforms 2012, which can be freely downloaded (as either a low- or high-resolution PDF). As before, he has gathered a wide-ranging set of contributions from colleagues throughout the overlapping worlds of calligraphy, handwriting, type design, typography and graphic design, …
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Codex 2—My Life with Menhart


For nearly a year my life has been bound up with that of Czech calligrapher and type designer Oldrich Menhart. In August 2011 I was approached by John Boardley, the mysterious genius behind I Love Typography, to be the editor of Codex, his new magazine, but it was not until January 2012 that the position was made official. At the time there was no sign of Menhart. It was sometime in March that I concocted the idea to take …
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Whatever Next: A Discourse on Typography

Last year I wrote a short essay entitled “Rules for Researching” for Gunnlaugur SE Briem to include in The Briem Report: Letterforms 2012. It will soon be available for free download at his website operina.com. Meanwhile, it has been published earlier this month in Whatever Next: A Discourse on Typography, a book jointly sponsored by This Is Art and the Camberwell Press, both located in London. The essay is a quick guide to doing research for those not …
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Inside Inside Paragraphs

My advance review of Inside Paragraphs, type designer Cyrus Highsmith’s new book on the fundamentals of typography, can be read at Imprint. Here are previews of several other pages from the book: “How Type Works”, “Glyph Space” and “Hierarchy of Space”.Inside Paragraphs, pp. 14–15 “How Type Works”Inside Paragraphs, p. 22 “Glyph Space”Inside Paragraphs, p. 76 “Hierarchy of Space”A reminder: Inside Paragraphs is not a complete guide to typography and the history of type. It is a …
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Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2011—Cala by Dieter Hofrichter

Typographica recently announced their list of the best typefaces of 2011. Stephen Coles invited me to be one of the critics and—from the list of typefaces he offered me—I chose Cala by Dieter Hofrichter to discuss. There were a number of typefaces on the list that appealed to me, including several by Hofrichter. In the end I selected Cala because 1. it was a Venetian Oldstyle face, an historically important category of type that has been on the …
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Flawed Typefaces

What constitutes a flawed typeface? For this article it is defined as a typeface that is perfectly fine—except for one nagging aspect, usually a single character. A flawed typeface is one that either you avoid using entirely because of this lone defect; or one that you use sparingly—and only then, after some alteration of either your design or the face itself to ameliorate the “flaw”. Flawed typefaces are not bad or even mediocre. The whole premise here is that they …
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Stereotype: The Future of Type Design—Kai Bernau & Nikola Djurek

When we think about contemporary type designers there is a tendency to forget that we are now into the third decade of the digital revolution and that the once-young pioneers of the genre—Robert Slimbach, Zuzana Licko, Jonathan Hoefler, Jean-François Porchez, Tobias Frere-Jones, Martin Majoor, et al—are now mature, well-established figures with thriving (we hope) businesses and a raft of fonts under their belts. So, who will shape the future of type design? Here are two accomplished young designers whose typefaces …
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How do you design a great typeface?—A (condensed) interview with Matthew Carter

My recent interview with Matthew Carter for Imprint (Print magazine’s blog) was reprinted—if one can use that term with the Internet—on Salon. Although it is gratifying to see my work picked up by a mainstream media site, it is distressing to see it bungled. All of the images have been laterally compressed. This is a disaster when the subject is type, especially so when typefaces are being compared to one another. To see Carter’s work …
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Take the SVA Train: Louise Fili’s Homage to New York’s Subway Signage

For decades the School of Visual Arts in New York City has been famous for the unstinting excellence of its promotional efforts. The most visible of these works have been subway posters notable for their blend of memorable copywriting and arresting imagery. The latest example is an eye-catching simulation of the mosaics that are virtually synonymous with the subway and thus with the city itself.
Click to read Imprint 22 April 2011

Standard Deviations: Types and Families in Contemporary Design

When the Museum of Modern Art decided, at the beginning of this year, to expand its purview and include typefaces among the artifacts of modern design it collects, it was a moment of celebration not only among the type designers whose works were selected but among all of us in the design community who care about type. The notion that a museum of art, especially one as august as MoMA, rather than a museum of history or technology had stooped …
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