News

Paul Shaw at the Letterform Archive 8 August 2024

Reading Type Specimens: From Cicero to Spoonie Diddel, Ladies Cicerone: Uncle Sam is Some Pumki! No more shall copy bad perplex my brain!
This August 8th live event at the letterform Archive in San Francisco is a follow-up to my recent talk at the St. Bride Foundation in London on the same subject. However, the talk will not be the same. Instead of the broad overview of the literary content of type specimens that I did for St. Bride, I …
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3 Lectures in London June 2024—Type Specimens, W.A. Dwiggins and Bartolomeo Sanvito

In June 2024 I will be in London to deliver three talks on three wildly disparate topics, a reflection of my varied interests over the past 40+ years: W.A. Dwiggins, Bartolomeo Sanvito, and type specimens. The thread that binds these topics is letterforms. Sanvito was a calligrapher; Dwiggins was a calligrapher, lettering artist, and type designer; and type specimens—of course—display typefaces (among other things).
Patent Shaded Four Lines Pica and Patent Shaded two Lines Double Pica from D. …
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Maureen Hoffmann Exhibition—Italian Stone: Artist’s Muse

Maureen Hoffmann (Legacy of Letters 2012) has an exhibition hosted by the Burien Arts Association at the Highline Heritage Museum in Burien, Washington (near Seattle) from May 4 to June 30, 2023. She says this of the exhibition: “Merging my multiple loves for expression, I have pulled from my 15 years of travel and 60,000 photos in Italy, and combined them with graphic overlays for one-of-a-kind monoprints. Milan, Florence, Venice… Monuments and cobblestones… Manuscripts and textiles… These are a few …
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Dafi Kühne: Letterpress Posters Reinvented

WTF? poster (2021 version of a 2014 poster). Copyright Dafi Kühne.
Dafi Kühne, in conversation with Poster House curator Angelina Lippert, will present his work, share his approach to Swiss Typography, and give insights into his fascinating production process. Together they will discuss several contemporary questions such as: Do printed posters in a time of digital displays in urban spaces still make sense? And why should posters be produced at great expense using the antiquated letterpress printing process when digital printing …
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Meet the first Legacy of Letters 2023 Crowdfunded Scholarship Winner

Shaqa Bovand
Arabic typeface by Shaqa Bovand.
Shaqa Bovand from Iran, a student in the MA Typeface Design program at the University of Reading, is our fifth scholarship participant. She was supported by donations (ranging in size from $25 to $500) from 31 individuals and two couples via an informal crowdfunding campaign. Both Shaqa and I wish to publicly thank those donors (in alphabetical order) for their financial assistance*:
Henri-Paul Bronsard
Paul Carlos
Graham Clifford
Moira Collins
Ben and Ellen Erdreich
Behdad Esfahbod
Glenn Fleishman
Linda Florio
Davide Fornari
David …
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History of Printing and Type Design for South Asian Scripts from the 18th to the 21st Century

A set of Devanagari wood type from Standard Type Foundry, New Delhi (date unknown). From the  personal collection of Vaibhav Singh.
Fiona Ross and Vaibhav Singh
California Rare Book School 2023
August 7–11, 2023 online
Application deadline: May 2, 2023
This course will offer an overview of the history of printing and type design for South Asian scripts from the 18th to the 21st century. Focusing mainly on three scripts from the Indian subcontinent, namely Devanagari, Bengali, and Tamil, the course will introduce participants …
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History of Typography in the West (Cal RBS) August 8–12, 2022

I have been teaching The History of Type for California Rare Book School since 2014. The five-day class has taken place every two years, either in Los Angeles or the Bay Area. With the exception of 2020, when the class was conducted via Zoom due to the pandemic, it has been a hands-on class. This year the class will return to the Bay Area where it will be based at the Letterform Archive.
Grendl Löfkvist, Education Director at the …
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Images from Tipo Cibo Vino (Legacy of Letters 2019)—Part 1: Treviso, Venice, Rovereto, and Trento

The first iteration of Tipo Cibo Vino, the 2019 Legacy of Letters tour and workshop, was a smashing success. The ten participants and one companion had a marvelous time touring cultural and gastronomic sites in the Veneto, taking cooking and beverage lessons from Cristina Colle and Mauro Drago of Le Corderie restaurant, and then working collaboratively on a letterpress book at the Tipoteca under the guidance of Peter Kruty and Sayre Gaydos of Peter Kruty Editions. The experience was so …
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Gushing over Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Alexander Cameron has just written an exuberantly positive review of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System for I Love Typography. He especially focuses on the design of the book which both Abby and I appreciate. Some of his comments:
The format size of Helvetica+—285mm (w) x 245mm (h)—immediately suggests that this is primarily a book to study, and not necessarily read in transit. Both the text content (including substantial notes and captions) and that of the photography, illustration and …
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Philip Grushkin Collection

Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive (2013). Cover design by Kind Company.
The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University recently announced the acquisition of the Philip Grushkin Collection. Grushkin (1921–1998) was a book jacket designer, book designer and publishing educator and consultant. The collection was acquired from the Grushkin family by Glen Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. I wrote the text for Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive, the catalogue accompanying the collection. It outlines the life and career of Grushkin …
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The Lettermaniac or Literaphiliac Profiled: A Day with Alexandra Horowitz

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Experts. Jacket design by Tal Goretsky.
Alexandra Horowitz, Professor of Psychology at Barnard College (Columbia University) and author of Inside of a Dog (a no. 1 New York Times bestseller) has just written On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes (Scribner). One of the eleven “experts” is me, a literaphiliac—someone suffering from a malady that “makes one seek, and see, letters”—in Horowitz’s view. Guilty as charged, though I would have used the term lettermaniac. Anyway, I …
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Helvetica and the New York City Subway System short-listed

Great news! MIT Press has given me advance notice that Helvetica and the New York City Subway System has been shortlisted for The Art Book Prize (formerly the Banister Fletcher Prize), which is administered by the Authors’ Club in London. The shortlist of eight titles will be formally announced at the opening of The London Art Book Fair this Thursday evening, September 20th, at The Whitechapel Gallery. The winner will be announced later this year at a reception in late November.
 

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System passes a milestone

When The MIT Press offered to republish Helvetica and the New York City Subway System they initially planned a print run of 3000 copies. While it was far more than the modest 500 copies that Blue Pencil Editions did originally, it was a standard quantity for design titles. But The MIT Press quickly changed their minds and, to my astonishment, upped the figure to 5000 copies. Their faith in the book, especially that of their executive editor Roger Conover, has …
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New praise for Helvetica and the New York City Subway

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System has been awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2011 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in the Architecture & Urban Planning category by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The PROSE Awards annually recognize the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content in over forty categories. Judged by peer publishers, …
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Codex

I am excited to announce that John Boardley, publisher of the popular website ilovetypography, has asked me to serve as editor of the second issue of his print publication Codex.
Codex: The Journal of Typography (Issue 1, Spring 2011). Front cover.
For those unaware of Codex, its debut issue, published in spring 2011, contains a wonderful mix of material, both high and low, scholarly and popular: a review of the typeface Huronia, a paean to Ottmar …
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Ciao!

Ciao means both goodbye and hello in Italian. This is hello for Blue Pencil as part of my new website [nicknamed Shaw*] and goodbye for Blue Pencil as a standalone blog. This website gathers together all of my myriad activities under a single umbrella in a manner that makes clear how they all stem from my deep and abiding love of letters in all of their variegated forms and uses. It is about making letters, designing with them, studying …
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