with John Downer

Offered by Type@Cooper West
Workshop at Letterform Archive
Sat–Sun, Oct 21–22, 2017
10:00am–5:00pm PDT

This course will address matters of concern regarding character proportions, stroke weights, curve descriptions, and miscellaneous ratios in type design. To quote the late American type designer, R. Hunter Middleton: “‘Relationship’ is the most important word in type design.”

But, in order for letterforms to perform correctly, they must be spaced correctly. Drawing letters and spacing them are simultaneous activities. The voids between characters must be allowed to play a role in determining character proportions. Secrets of spacing will be laid bare, as Mr. Downer demystifies the process and explains established principles via basic exercises.

Learning, applying, and remembering special hierarchies which pertain to the discipline of type design will help novices avoid countless common mistakes. And, even though makeshift ,gauges and calipers may be of use, “eyeballing” will ultimately determine correctness of form and arrangement.

Required Materials
  • no. 2 Pencil
  • eraser
  • 12” ruler
  • scissors
  • 1” black artists’ tape
  • clear scotch tape
  • 1 zig memory systems brand calligraphy pen, 2 ended with 2.0 mm and 5.0 mm felt nibs black.
  • pad of 14 x 17 layout paper (or tabloid copier paper)

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.

About John Downer

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.