Designing modular letterforms and using them well, depends on a rudimentary understanding of utility. Modular letters follow well-established methods of construction. A building-block system is employed to form the basic shapes, space them correctly, and then add optical corrections. John will draw on his experience as a sign painter and type designer to teach traditional approaches. Two hallmark lettering styles, Half Block and Gaspipe, will be covered. Students need no prior sign painting or type design experience to benefit from this workshop.
A workshop offered by Type@Cooper West, a collaboration between Letterform Archive and The Cooper Union Continuing Education Department, and held in the Monotype Classroom at Letterform Archive.
Mr. Downer has been a journeyman sign painter since 1973, a freelance typeface designer since 1983, and a crusader for designers’ rights his entire adult life in the lettering game. He has written about type and type history for various publications, and he is widely known as a perceptive type critic. His typefaces have been published by Bitstream, Font Bureau, Emigre, House Industries, and Design Lab. Stylistically, his designs refer to various eras of history and means of letterform production: 19th- and 20th-century American sign painting and show card writing; 19th- and 20th-century American chromolithography and wood type; 18th-century European book types; 15th- and 16th-century Chancery cursive writing styles; 15th- and 16th-century Venetian printing; and 2nd-century Imperial Roman epigraphy.