Letterform Archive — News

Letterform Archive News

Jun 13, 2018

From the Collection: Blissymbolics

Posted In: Collections

If the “Father of Semantography” had his way with written language, we’d all be #blissed.

Books from the reference library of Aaron Marcus and Associates:
Blissymbols for Use, Barbara Hehner, Blissymbols Communication Institute, Ontario, 1980. Design: Jack Steiner. Illustrations: Alan Daniel. Symbol Drawings: Jim Grice.
The Book to the Film ‘Mr. Symbol Man', Charles K. Bliss with contributions by Shirley McNaughton, Semantography-Blissymbolics Publications, 1975.
Apr 17, 2018

This Just In: Posters of May ’68

Posted In: Collections

We commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Paris uprising with a collection of posters by the Atelier Populaire (Popular Workshop).

Lutte Contre Le Cancer Gaulliste (Struggle Against the Gaullist Cancer)
Mar 16, 2018

This Just In: The Nuremberg Chronicle

Posted In: Collections

Now at Letterform Archive, a landmark of 15th-century bookmaking.

We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of our first complete incunable (book printed before 1501). The Nuremberg Chronicle is one of the most densely illustrated and technically advanced incunables, and helps us tell the story of letterforms in the early years of printing.

Index half-title page, Nuremberg Chronicle. The calligraphic woodcut opening this German edition reads “REgister Des buchs der Croniken…” (Index of the book of Chronicles and stories with figures and images from the dawn of the world until this our time.). Note the ligatures with shared stems (‘de’) and marks that distinguish ‘u’ from ‘n’ (“pildnus-sen”) and indicate a double ‘n’ (“unnsere”).
Mar 16, 2018

Thank you, Camille

Posted In: Behind the Scenes

For most of Letterform Archive’s existence, one woman has been behind our camera, capturing and sharing the collection for publications, research requests, and social media.

Camille Brown with one of her favorite parts of the collection, 1975 issues of Typographische Monatsblätter, with covers by Heinrich Fleischhacker.

Camille Brown joined the Archive in May 2016 as an intern, and soon took a place on staff as Photographer. Her deft shooting and post-processing skills made large and demanding projects – like the Dwiggins book – possible. And her keen and curious eye set the standard for our social feeds, attracting tens of thousands followers on Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram. Now we bid Camille a tearful farewell as she leaves us for her next life chapter in New York.

Feb 15, 2018

This Just In: Saul Bass

Posted In: Collections

Bass’s timeless minimalism made him the godfather of the modern movie poster. Several original prints recently arrived at the Archive.

Saul Bass, The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955.
Saul Bass, The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955. (Detail, see full poster in gallery below.)
Jan 25, 2018

From the Collection: The Alphabet Lithographs of Jean Midolle

Posted In: Collections

An enigmatic portfolio of fantastical lettering styles continues to fascinate designers and historians. Our guest author Dan Reynolds highlights a few favorite plates.

From left to right, letters from the Spécimen des écritures modernes… portfolio: Gothique Composée; Midolline; Alphabet Lapidaire Monstre; Alphabet Diabolique, Emile Simon fils press, France, 1835. (All cropped, see full images below.)
From left to right, letters from the Spécimen des écritures modernes… portfolio: Gothique Composée; Midolline; Alphabet Lapidaire Monstre; Alphabet Diabolique, Emile Simon fils press, France, 1835. (All cropped, see full images below.)
Jan 22, 2018

This Just In: Jason Munn

Posted In: Collections

Jason Munn’s minimalist gig posters capture a conceptual duality, inviting music fans to take a closer look.

Jason Munn, Beirut, 2015.
Jason Munn, Beirut, 2015. (Cropped, see full poster in gallery below.)
Jan 9, 2018

From the Collection: Redfoxpress

Posted In: Collections

The globe-trotting, mind-bending books of Francis Van Maele and Antic-Ham consistently inspire vocal reactions from our visitors.

Berlin, Ireland, 2015
Berlin, photographs taken by Franticham in Berlin in November 2014, screenprinted at Redfoxpress studios, Ireland, 2015.

Artists’ books, simply put, are works of art created in the form of a book. Letterform Archive shows work from our artists’ book collection in every tour we lead. We like to think of each as a complete thought — a thoroughly considered work from start to finish. The materials used to create the book and how the reader interacts with it are equally as important as the images or text the reader sees.

We’re delighted to have several works by Redfoxpress in our artists’ book collection. Originally founded in Luxembourg in 2000 by Francis Van Maele, Redfoxpress is now located on Achill Island (Ireland) and has been co-run by duo Francis Van Maele and Antic-Ham — or Franticham — since 2005. They are creators of screen prints, photographs, stationary, zines, and especially artist books. Redfoxpress participates in book fairs all around the world, including the Bay Area’s very own Codex, which is where we first learned of their work in 2013.

Nov 28, 2017

The Metal Squad Behind the Deluxe Dwiggins

Posted In: Publishing

Rare type and talent went into the making of the letterpress portfolio for W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design.

Dwiggins deluxe letterpress portfolio
Using original Dwiggins typefaces for each piece, Mss. by WAD contains eighteen pages of Dwiggins’s writings (some never before published), printed letterpress from Linotype cast metal slugs, and housed in a handsome portfolio featuring a Dwiggins ornament blind-embossed on the front cover. Twenty-two illustrations, hand-lettered titles, and decorated initials (all made from original Dwiggins pen-and-ink artwork in the files of Boston Public Library) accompany the text, reproduced via high-quality copper photoengravings.

Dwiggins’s visual inventiveness was matched by his verbal wit, and he left behind a number of charming stories and playful but potent essays that helped to define the fields of graphic, advertising, and book design. The deluxe edition of Bruce Kennett’s Dwiggins biography includes a portfolio of Dwiggins’s writings, set in his own typefaces made for the Linotype machine. (The standard edition of the book includes high-fidelity reproductions of these pages.)

In his book’s acknowledgments, Bruce thanks “the Metal Squad who produced the letterpress portfolio (which also appears in the book as the Writings section): Michael Babcock, Darrell Hyder, John Kristensen, and Andrew Steeves, all of whom brought not only their experience and skills, but also their respect and admiration for Dwiggins.” As the final proofs of A Life in Design head to the printer, we look back at the efforts from this team of craftsmen and the methods, both analog and digital, which made the portfolio possible.

Nov 20, 2017

Letterform Archive and AIGA in Minneapolis

Posted In: Behind the Scenes
Archiving AIGA Medalists exhibit
The Archiving AIGA Medalists exhibit at the AIGA Design Conference in Minneapolis, October 2017. Photo: Frank Aymami Photography, courtesy AIGA.

Our local and global audience is growing steadily, but Letterform Archive is still a fairly young organization, and this year offered many opportunities to introduce ourselves to new audiences beyond the Bay Area. The last few months were particularly eventful, with a whirlwind of collections projects, hosting visits, planning exhibitions, and sending our team off to represent the Archive and show our collection at conferences all around the world. I had the pleasure of working with our curator, Rob Saunders, on a pop-up exhibit for the 2017 AIGA Conference in Minneapolis.

Oct 20, 2017

Lipton Calligraphy for the Dwiggins Spine

Posted In: Publishing
W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design deluxe edition
The deluxe edition of W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design with letterpress portfolio, slipcase, and spine foil-stamped in gold.

Bruce Kennett’s biography of W. A. Dwiggins is nearly ready to go to press. A few lucky backers of the project are set to receive the deluxe edition of the book, bound with a leather spine that features gold foil-stamped lettering by master calligrapher, Richard Lipton. This week we talked to Richard about penning the proper spine for Letterform Archive’s first publication.

What’s your relationship to Dwiggins’s work?

Richard Lipton: Like so many graphic designers, calligraphers, and type designers, I had something of a love affair with his multifaceted work. He was a consummate craftsman and there is much to admire in so many aspects surrounding his many interests, accomplishments, and sense of humor.

I came to his work first as a budding calligrapher. I had the opportunity to visit his Hingham studio along with Ed Karr and Jackie Sakwa in the early 1980s and was given a personal guided tour by Dorothy Abbe. I was just fascinated by everything I saw there and heard the admiration in Dorothy’s voice as she described his talent and dedication to everything he touched. There is a warmth and human touch present in all of his work that spoke clearly to the time in which he lived.

Sep 11, 2017

Recasting Electra as Aluminia

Posted In: Publishing

Jim Parkinson tells us about reviving Electra for Bruce Kennett’s W. A. Dwiggins biography.

Left: Original drawing for Electra; Right: Jim Parkinson’s pencil sketch on the back of the printed sheet, drawn on a light table to flop the letter before scanning it.
Dwiggins made this puppet — Aluminia — in the 1930s just as his Electra type was being released by Linotype. He imagined her as an agile dancer, and built her from cardstock covered with aluminum foil. Dwiggins used these words to describe his Electra type: “Electricity . . . sparks, energy — high-speed steel — metal shavings coming off a lathe — precise, positive . . . take your curves and streamline ‘em.” Jim Parkinson’s new font perfectly captures these qualities, and we’ve decided to name it Aluminia in honor of Dwiggins’s other creation.

Those of you who have followed the progress of Letterform Archive’s first publication, the forthcoming W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design, already know that this book will be both a celebration of this prolific author, artist, and designer, and also the culmination of forty years of passionate research and collecting by two of his biggest fans — the book’s author, designer, and chief visionary, Bruce Kennett, and Letterform Archive’s founder, Rob Saunders. At nearly 500 pages and including 1,200 illustrations, the book is a labor of love and has received unstinting attention to the writing, editing, design, and production. In keeping with our ambition to present Dwiggins in a publication worthy of him, Letterform Archive also commissioned Oakland-based type designer Jim Parkinson to create a digital revival of Dwiggins’s Electra typeface that honors the design’s original personality and strength. The resulting fonts — which we have named “Aluminia” after one of the marionettes Dwiggins designed and fabricated in the 1930s — will be used throughout the Dwiggins biography and are now available for purchase.

For backers who have already purchased the fonts, we expect to deliver these along with your license within the next two weeks. Watch your inbox and, if you haven’t yet responded to our survey requesting your delivery address, please do so as soon as possible, or email us directly at publications@letterformarchive.org.

Now that the fonts are finished, we are making steady progress towards sending the book to press and will soon follow this update with additional news and information. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this recent interview with Jim Parkinson, in which he shares both the challenges and the delights of this intriguing project.

Aug 22, 2017

This Just In: Elaine Lustig Cohen

Posted In: Collections

A generous donation from Elaine Lustig Cohen’s estate significantly enhances Letterform Archive’s mid-century modern holdings.

Mailing card for
Mailing card for A Millionth Anniversary, Meridian Books, New York, 1958.
Aug 2, 2017

This Just In: Linotype Master Drawings

Posted In: Collections

Once threatened by dispersal, over 60,000 letter templates from the British Linotype company now have a home at Letterform Archive.

Metroblack ‘e’, ‘n’, ‘r’, 6 pt., 1934. Metro was originally designed by W. A. Dwiggins in 1929–30. Read more in our upcoming biography.
Drawing for Metroblack ‘e’, ‘n’, ‘r’, at 6 pt., Linotype & Machinery, Manchester, 1934. Metro was originally designed by W. A. Dwiggins in 1929–30. Read more in our upcoming book, W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design.

In early April 2017, dozens of boxes arrived at the Archive. Each was packed with hundreds of folders containing thousands of large cards. And on each card, a pencil drawing of a single letter outline, annotated with measurements, character information, dates, and a draftperson’s signature.

Jul 13, 2017

The New Face of Letterform Archive

Posted In: Behind the Scenes

Tânia Raposo and Nick Sherman describe how they took on the challenge of representing 40,000 objects in a single visual identity.

Welcome to the new Letterform Archive

Our new logo and website have been live for a few weeks, but now, after the rush of spring events, we finally have a moment to reflect on the redesign and ask its creators about their process.

Page 5 of 6 pages ‹ First  < 3 4 5 6 >