Legacy of Letters 2017—Erik Spiekermann at the Tipoteca

spiekermann_printshop_bwIf you don’t recognize this face you haven’t been paying attention to graphic design, information design, typography and type design for the past three decades. This is Erik Spiekermann. He was trained, in the true German printing tradition, as a compositor before working at H. Berthold GmbH under the legendary Gunter Gerhard Lange. For Berthold he both designed typefaces (the revivals of Berliner Grotesk and LoType for instance) and type specimens. In 1987 he also wrote the wonderfully concise, witty and wise Rhyme and Reason: A Typographical Novel for the foundry. It became the basis for the more familiar Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works that Erik co-wrote with E.M. Ginger in 1993.

Erik was one of the co-founders of the Berlin (and later London and San Francisco) design agency MetaDesign and a co-founder of FontShop with his former wife Joan Spiekermann and Neville Brody. His typeface Meta, originally designed for (and rejected by) the German post office, was so successful after its release as a FontFont that it became known as the Helvetica of the 1990s. However, Erik would surely point out that Meta is a far more legible and functional typeface. (In fact, if you have not seen Helvetica: The Movie, do so and pay close attention to Erik and Paula Scher—you’ll see why I call it a typographic comedy.)

Along with Meta, Erik has designed or co-designed innumerable typefaces, many of them for signage and information systems. They include ITC Officina (serif and sans), FF Transit, FF Unit and FF Info.

Despite his immersion into the nerdiness of both type design and information design, Erik has a lively sense of humor, in English as well as his native German. Listening to him speak is refreshing and enjoyable. His opinions are blunt, almost invariably right, and always delivered in an amusing manner. Erik is never dull. And he never minces his words.

So, why are we telling you all of this since you surely know how accomplished Erik Spiekermann is? We are excited to announce that Erik has agreed to teach a letterpress workshop for Legacy of Letters in the summer of 2017 at the Tipoteca in Cornuda, Italy. With the establishment of Galerie p98A in Berlin he has returned to his roots in letterpress. And he is eager to apply his ideas of redefining letterpress in the digital age—to go beyond the usual “letterpressed” poster—to a workshop at the Tipoteca.

The full Legacy of Letters tour and workshop will take place from July 3 to 13 with the workshop portion being held from July 8 to 13. The tour will begin in Torino (instead of the usual Milan) before going on to Padua and Venice. The workshop will be 5 days long with four days for a group project and one day set aside for participants to do personal work In the middle there will be a day of sightseeing and gastronomy in the Veneto.

The exact details of the itinerary and the price of the tour/workshop are still being hammered out. Meanwhile, we are taking advance sign-ups without deposit. The workshop will be limited to 12 people. To save a space, email paulshaw@nyc.rr.com. Grazie.