Tours & Events

Tours & Events lists all lettering walks, Legacy of Letters tours, public lectures, talks, panel discussions, workshops, calligraphic demonstrations, etc. that I am engaged in.

TDC Type Walk: Fort Greene & Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

The fall 2011 TDC type tour will return to the borough of Brooklyn. This time we will explore the neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. These are brownstone neighborhoods where the lettering excitement is going to come primarily from small businesses along with churches and a few institutions such as Pratt Institute. They have been revived but not completely gentrified so there are still older signs to see.

Paul Shaw Book Talk

South Ferry station (2009)The Skyscraper Museum
39 Battery Place, New York City
6:30 pm, Wednesday, 5 October 2011 Paul Shaw looks at how the subway’s signage system has evolved over the past forty years in his book, Helvetica and the New York City Subway System. The resulting story is more than a tale of a typeface. It is a look at the forces that have molded a signage system.

Tale of a Typeface: Paul Shaw’s “Helvetica and the New York City Subway System”

Porcelain enamel 8th Avenue IND sign (1930s)Transit Museum
Corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn Heights
6 pm, Thursday, 22 September 2011 Graphic designer, typographer, calligrapher, and author Paul Shaw—for whom letters and words are everything—will present a new edition of his acclaimed book, Helvetica and the New York City Subway System (The MIT Press). It features additional photos and annotations. The resulting story is more than a tale of a typeface; it’s a look at the …
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TDC2 2012

James Montalbano and I created TDC2, the Type Directors Club Type Design Competition, in 1998. Now, for the first time, I will have the opportunity to be a judge of the competition. I am honored to be part of an august panel that includes Roger Black, Matthew Carter and Erik Spiekermann. Maxim Zhukov is the chairman. The deadline for submission is Friday, 16 December 2011. For more details on TDC2 go to the Type Directors Club website.

WNYC The Leonard Lopate Show

On August 4th, guest host Richard Hake interviewed me on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC about my book Helvetica and the New York City Subway System. It’s too late to hear me live, but you still hear me online.

From the Street to the Sky

Taxi stand, Leiden
I gave my talk “From the Street to the Sky” at the Hochschule RheinMain / University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden on July 6th for students in the Design Informatik Medien department. The talk was at the invitation of Prof. Gregor Krisztian. “From the Street to the Sky” is a survey of the many places that lettering can be found in the urban environment—from manhole covers in the street to neon signage on the rooftops of buildings. …
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Author @ the Library presents: “Helvetica and the New York City Subway System,” with Paul Shaw

Middletown Road station (no. 6).

Mid-Manhattan Library, New York Public Library
6:30 pm, Monday, 23 May 2011
This visual lecture will show how the signs in the New York City subway system have evolved over the past forty-five years, from the first attempt by Unimark to create a coherent, cohesive and modular system in 1966 to its incarnation today.  The resulting story is more than a tale of a typeface; it is a look at the forces that …
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Paul Shaw and Jan Conradi: A Conversation about Design and the New York City Subway System

Strand Books
828 Broadway
New York City
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
7–8 pm
Unimark International, formed in 1965, was a new kind of design firm, one that sought to wed American marketing know-how with European modernist design. Over the course of a decade it transformed graphic design and corporate identity, creating a new paradigm of how design and business worked together. Among its major clients was the New York City Transit Authority for whom it created a new subway sign system between 1966 and …
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The Heritage of Printing: Treasures from the Archives of the Imprimerie Nationale

This is an early notice of what promises to be one of the seminal typographic exhibitions of 2011/2012.
In December 2011 The Grolier Club of New York will host an exhibition on the history of the French national printing establishment, the Imprimerie Nationale, arguably the most important printing house in Europe.  Drawn from the vast and comprehensive archives of the Imprimerie Nationale, the exhibition will document the significant influence of the press, not only on printing and the book arts, …
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Last Chance to Register for Legacy of Letters

Roman Imperial Capitals, Museo Lapidario di Scipione Maffei (Verona). Photograph by Carlo Scherer.
There are only three weeks left to sign up for the Legacy of Letters tour of Northern Italy this summer. The last day is Friday, May 20. There are still some places left. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to combine great lettering with great food and drink in a beautiful setting. To register click here.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Tenement Talk
Tenement Museum
108 Orchard Street
New York City
6:30 pm, 21 June 2011
For details see

Free Lecture and Book-Signing: Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Paul Shaw
Helvetica and the New York City Subway System
Albany Institute of History & Art
Albany, New York
2 pm, Sunday, 22 May 2011
For years, the signs in the New York City subway system were a bewildering hodge-podge of lettering styles, sizes, shapes, materials, colors, and messages. The original mosaics (dating from as early as 1904), displaying a variety of serif and sans serif letters and decorative elements, were supplemented by signs in terracotta and cut stone. Over the years, enamel signs identifying …
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Audio for Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

It is only a taste, but listen to the sound of type meeting track at Although my voice is not as rich as this man’s, the audio snippet—which came as a surprise to me—gives one an idea of what the reading that I did at BookCourt in Brooklyn on March 18 was like.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: A Talk by Paul Shaw

Society of Printers Annual Meeting
The Club of Odd Volumes
77 Mt. Vernon Street
Boston, Massachusetts
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
(members only)
The Society of Printers is the oldest graphic arts organization in the United States. I will be speaking on Helvetica and the New York City Subway System at their annual meeting.


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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TDC Midtown South Walking Tours on May 10 and 12, 2011

Midtown South is the area between 42nd Street and 23rd Street. Some of it is familiar to tourists, but much of it is not. The two One Club tours will try to cover this area, if not from river to river, at least from Third Avenue to Ninth Avenue. The neighborhoods in this area are home to a variety of lettering styles, materials and techniques to see. These tours represent an opportunity to go beyond …
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