News

Mar 27, 2017

Now Live on Kickstarter: Bruce Kennett’s Groundbreaking Monograph on W. A. Dwiggins, Published by Letterform Archive

Letterform Archive’s publishing program debuts with W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design, a comprehensive illustrated biography of the innovative type designer, illustrator, and lettering artist, William Addison Dwiggins. Written and designed by Bruce Kennett, with a foreword by Steven Heller, this book is essential for anyone interested in graphic design, publishing, and the book arts.

The Kickstarter campaign will run from March 28 ‑ April 28, 2017.
Order soon: early-bird discounts available for a limited time only.

Reserve your copy now
A sample spread from the type design chapter of W.A. Dwiggins: A Life In Design.
About the book:
  • 480 pages
  • 1200 high-res illustrations, all shot under raking light for pop-off-the-page realism
  • The book text will be set by the author in a revival of Dwiggins’s Electra type, made by Jim Parkinson especially for this project. (Kickstarter backers will have the opportunity to acquire these types for their own use.)
  • Also available in a limited, deluxe edition with leather spine and letterpress portfolio
  • View the prospectus (PDF)
Jan 17, 2017

This Just In: The Experimental Wood Type Prints of Jack Stauffacher

Jack Stauffacher, wood type print, 13’’ x 20’’
Jack Stauffacher, wood type print, 13’’ x 20’’

Jack Stauffacher (who celebrated his 96th birthday in December 2016) has been making books since age 16 — which means 80 years spent practicing and perfecting the interrelated arts of printing, typography, design, and publishing. A 2004 AIGA medalist, the self-taught Stauffacher is one of the most distinguished printers in the United States today.

Last fall, Letterform Archive acquired over 200 of Stauffacher’s wood type prints. These are the product of the printer-typographer’s experiments with the drawers of wood type he inherited at his 300 Broadway studio, located in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.

These wooden letters — many mismatched, not a single complete alphabet among them — provided, simultaneously, a semantic constraint and a material freedom. Stauffacher used the opportunity to create “monoprints,” no two the same. Among his techniques: manipulating the layouts of the letters on the bed of his press between impressions; using solvents and sponges (among other materials) to create unique textural variations and effects with inking; iterating with sub-sets of letters; and inking once, then printing multiple times. The resulting prints offer striking variance in color, shape, texture, and pattern — a particular contrast with Stauffacher’s more traditional editioned productions.

A facsimile edition of these prints is forthcoming from Letterform Archive.

Download a hi-res sampler of images from the collection

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Oct 14, 2016

This Just In: Piet Zwart Ephemera

Piet Zwart, Brochure for Nijgh and van Ditmar, 1931
Piet Zwart, Brochure for Nijgh and van Ditmar, 1931

Dutch designer Piet Zwart (1885-1977) was trained as an architect, but is best known as a pioneer of twentieth century experimental typography and photomontage. He preferred to call himself a “form engineer” because he was such a strong believer in functionality, standardization and machine production. The master set from Zwart’s own archive is at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague.

Letterform Archive’s collection of Piet Zwart was begun thirty years ago, but it has been substantially enhanced by newly acquired material. Starting in 2013 there was a series of five auctions in the Netherlands featuring duplicates from Zwart’s personal archive. We were an active bidder in all five sales.

Our Piet Zwart collection now contains over 120 pieces of rare ephemera. Many are proof copies (printed on one side only) with dates or other notations in his own hand, and almost all have Zwart’s name and address rubber stamped in green on the back.

The items featured in the linked PDF arrived recently from the last of the five auction sales.

Download a hi-res sampler of images from the collection

To receive notifications when our "This Just In" series is updated, please sign up for our e-newsletter. We send occasional updates on upcoming events, workshops, exhibitions, and more.

Sep 10, 2016

An Interview with Aaron Marcus

Letterform Archive gratefully acknowledges Aaron Marcus’s recent generous donation of an archive of his work.

Aaron Marcus, Directions for Genesis 1 and 2, 1973
Aaron Marcus, Soft Where, Inc., Vol. 1, 1975

The newly acquired collection encompasses a broad swath of Marcus’s works and interests, ranging from art and design to physics and computer science. Through his experimental design works and creative explorations, Marcus challenges both our notion of what letters are and how they are constructed. His explorations—through both hand work and computer code—prefigure a computer-assisted approach to creative expression that is widely utilized by artists and designers today.

Sep 1, 2016

This Just In: Identity Manual Collection

Thanks to a generous gift from Professor Dennis Y. Ichiyama, Letterform Archive is excited to add nearly 200 identity manuals to our collection.

Corporate identity manuals

Dennis Ichiyama is a designer and professor of visual communication design at Purdue University. As a student, he studied under Paul Rand at Yale, learning the importance of creating within limitations — a philosophy he carried with him into a long career as a designer and educator.

Jun 28, 2016

This Just In: The Albert Klijn Archive

Albert Klijn, sketch for brochure, Venetian blinds.
Albert Klijn, sketch for brochure, Venetian blinds.

Letterform Archive recently acquired an archive of material by and about Albert Klijn (1895–1981), a Dutch graphic designer, painter, typographer, bookbinding designer, and illustrator. The collection includes posters, paintings, advertisements, periodicals, seals and stamps, calligraphy, and a large assortment of ephemera and printed matter.

Klijn studied at the Quellinus School in the Netherlands and is known for designing many items for the city of Amsterdam, including various letterheads, logos, coats of arms, and five Town Calendars (1924–1929). He is most famous for designing the logo for the Municipality of Amsterdam Giro, the first cashless payment system in the Netherlands. Klijn worked for the interior designer Theo Nieuwenhuis from 1866–1951 and ran the studio for Advertising Art with his brother Willem Klijn (1892–1961).

In 1923, Klijn designed the cover for issue number forty-one of the highly revered art magazine, Wendingen. The archive includes several process pieces for this magazine cover, including a drawing and several printed proofs.

The abundance of material in the archives of Albert Klijn provides excellent insight into the artist’s multifaceted nature and creative evolution. It is an honor for us at Letterform Archive to preserve and share his history, art, and process with our community.

— Camille Brown, Intern

Download a hi-res sampler of images from the collection

To receive notifications when our "This Just In" series is updated, please sign up for our e-newsletter. We send occasional updates on upcoming events, workshops, exhibitions, and more.

Jun 16, 2016

This Just In: Major Donation of Archival Material from Emigre, Inc.

Acquisition reflects commitment to providing hands-on access to type foundry’s significant digital archive, collateral material, and ephemera.

Emigre logo on paste-up board, 1983
Emigre logo on paste-up board, 1983

Letterform Archive has received a major gift from the renowned type foundry and publisher Emigre, Inc. The gift includes rare archival material in various media, such as a complete run of Emigre catalogs, development files for original Emigre typefaces, and audiotapes of unedited interviews with Emigre magazine designers and contributors that offer an oral history of the design community, as well as printed sheets, posters, ephemera, and paste-ups.

Mar 15, 2016

This Just In: The Ross F. George Archive

Mockup for Round Hand Script sample alphabet, by Ross F. George
Mockup for Round Hand Script sample alphabet, by Ross F. George

Seattle sign painter and showcard writer Ross F. George (1889–1959) was the inventor of the Speedball pen and author of the first 17 editions of the Speedball textbook (now in its centennial edition).

With this post we gratefully acknowledge George’s family’s donation of an archive of his work, containing drawings for original alphabets published in the Speedball textbooks, his pens (including some early prototypes), showcards and other examples of his lettering and drawing, account books, papers, and photos.

George’s Speedball textbooks and pens have aided countless calligraphers and lettering artists over the last 100 years. We’re thrilled that Letterform Archive will now get to share his history, art, and process with many more.

Download a hi-res sampler of images from the collection

If you are interested in contributing materials to the Archive, please contact us. To receive notifications when our "This Just In" series is updated, sign up for our e-newsletter.

Feb 25, 2016

This Just In: W.G. Sutherland, The Sign Writer and Glass Embosser (Manchester/London, 1898)

William George Sutherland, The Sign Writer and Glass Embosser (1898), Plate 1.
William George Sutherland, The Sign Writer and Glass Embosser (1898), Plate 1.

We were delighted to get our hands on a copy of William George Sutherland’s The Sign Writer and Glass Embosser, a rare technical manual from the turn of the 20th century. Consisting mainly of decorative alphabets, this book was meant primarily for use in signage, with chapters dedicated to various methods of decorating on glass including gilding, embossing, etching, and enamel painting. The volume includes a portfolio of 32 lithographed prints, 16 in color with occasional gold, by Kleinertz of Manchester.

Download a hi-res sampler of images from the book

To receive notifications when our "This Just In" series is updated, please sign up for our e-newsletter. We send occasional updates on upcoming events, workshops, exhibitions, and more.

Jan 22, 2016

Without Type: The Dynamism of Handmade Letters Opens at San Francisco Center for the Book

The exhibition organized by Letterform Archive in San Francisco brings together handmade letter art from the 15th century to today.

Without Type exhibition

On January 22, 2016 the San Francisco Center for the Book will open an exhibition organized by Letterform Archive in San Francisco that showcases handmade examples of the letter arts made by practitioners from various disciplines, including calligraphers, architects, type designers, and illustrators. By juxtaposing works created across diverse time periods and geographical locations, the exhibition seeks to highlight the tremendous creativity and myriad possibility for the handmade letter arts, while at the same time drawing connections between seemingly disparate works.

Aug 12, 2015

Type@Cooper & Letterform Archive launch Type@Cooper West

The Cooper Union’s Continuing Education Certificate Program offers West Coast courses beginning October 2015.

Periodicals wall of the main reading room of Letterform Archive

Type@Cooper and Letterform Archive are partnering to offer a post-graduate certificate program in Typeface Design in the new Type Annex of Letterform Archive. In addition to this rigorous one-year course in typeface design, the newly established Type@Cooper West program also brings public workshops and a public lecture series focusing on lettering, digital typeface design, font production, and typography.