Education is central to the Archive’s mission. At the core is Type West, a postgraduate certificate program in type design, and the only one of its kind on the West Coast. We also host class visits, present lectures, and offer public workshops.
Our Postgraduate Certificate Program in Type Design is geared toward graphic design professionals who wish to expand their typographic toolboxes by learning the tools and techniques necessary to create original typefaces. The year-long program is tailored to the needs of recent graduates, working designers, and other professionals who interact with type and typography regularly but would like to deepen their knowledge in a supportive and challenging academic environment.
The history and theory of type design serve as the basis for the core classes of type production. Students practice hand lettering, calligraphy, and drafting as a foundation for original letterform creation and master the digital tools necessary for making fonts. Class size is limited to allow for individual instruction.
Each of the three (3) ten-week terms is supported by two (2) weekend workshops and four (4) guest lectures, all taught by leaders in the fields of typography and type design. The popular Letterform Lecture series, held in the San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium, features visiting scholars and industry professionals and covers a wide range of topics on lettering and type design.
At Letterform Archive, Type West students have access to an unparalleled typographic library as they research and create their own original typefaces. Librarians, curators, and other members of the Archive’s knowledgeable staff guide students through thousands of type specimens, reference books, and original examples of lettering and graphic design.
Students also benefit from free admission to the Letterform Archive Salon Series, an evening event on the last Thursday of every month which explores a specific category of the Archive’s extensive collection of specimens, magazines, posters, and ephemera.
James Edmondson, Lead Instructor, followed his graphic design degree from California College of the Arts with a masters in type design from The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Netherlands. James lives in Oakland and runs OH no Type Co., an independent foundry focused on display faces and expressive lettering. He has several years of type design teaching under his belt at CCA and Type@Cooper West, and leads the Type West design courses throughout all three terms.
Grendl Löfkvist, Education Director, teaches type history and theory in the Type West program. Outside the Archive, Grendl teaches the history of graphic design, book arts, typography, and letterpress printing at City College of San Francisco, as well as calligraphy at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Grendl has ink in her veins: she was an offset press operator for 20 years, and she serves on the board of directors for the American Printing History Association’s Northern California chapter. Her interests include the study of printing as a subversive “Black Art” and she’s always on the lookout for bizarre or macabre print, type, and lettering lore (she is a bit of a goth).
Graham Bradley (2018–20) is a graphic designer and type designer. He creates brand identities, custom typefaces, logos, lettering, books, and websites. He was a designer at Frere-Jones Type, where he worked on Mallory and Retina, constructed specimens and illustrations, and developed custom tools. Graham is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Type@Cooper.
Kel Troughton (2019–20) is a type designer and lettering artist who gets an equal amount of inspiration from mid-century advertising and Bay Area graffiti. He graduated from the Type@Cooper West program in 2018, was the teaching assistant for Type West in 2019, and now makes fonts at Monotype. You can find him in the East Bay drawing letters and you can find his typeface Oaks on Future Fonts.
Lynne Yun (2019–20) is a type designer at Monotype who shares the joy of her craft through lectures and workshops for organizations such as AIGA, TypeCon, and the Society of Scribes. Lynne previously held design positions at Apple, Publicis, and Deutsch. Her work has been recognized by organizations such as AIGA, TDC and ADC, and she currently serves on the board of AIGA NY.
The Type West program is supplemented by evening and weekend workshops in type design, lettering, calligraphy, and typography for print and web design. The workshops are conducted by Type West’s core instructors, as well as guest designers and educators who are eminent in their fields. Many of the workshops are also open to public participation.
The Letterform Lecture series complements the Type West curriculum with four presentations per term from luminaries in type, design, and research. Held at the San Francisco Public Library, the lectures are free and open to the public. The Archive also hosts a monthly Salon Series, highlighting specific aspects of our collection. Participants in the Type West Certificate Program get free entrance to the Salon Series and other special events.
Learn more about workshops and lectures on our Events page.
The 2019–2020 Certificate Program consists of three (3) ten-week terms over a full calendar year, beginning September 30, 2019 and ending in August 2020 with six-week breaks between terms (December 2019–January 2020 and April–May 2020).
Core classes are scheduled on Monday and Tuesday evenings, with two (2) weekend workshops per trimester on Saturday and/or Sunday from 10:00am–5:00pm.