Letterform Archive News - Behind the Scenes

Apr 22, 2021 | Behind the Scenes, Collections

A Letterform Archive Auction

Bring a rare piece of the Archive into your own home or office while supporting our mission: join our first-ever auction on May 12, 2021.

Letterform Archive has one of the world’s best collections of typographic history. We house over 60,000 objects aggregated from various sources and donors with overlapping interests. This often yields multiple copies of a book or print, and there are now hundreds of duplicates to be deaccessioned. Over the last five years we held several small sales, particularly of reference books and type foundry ephemera, but we reserved the rarest gems for a moment when we could offer them all together in a globally accessible auction.

Dec 22, 2020 | Behind the Scenes

Letterform Landscapes

60 virtual backgrounds bring you into the Archive for your next video conference call.

Letterform Archive staff with our custom virtual backgrounds.

Like many of you sheltering at home, our team is seeing a lot of each other within the now-familiar grid of video chat rectangles. We love getting a peek at everyone’s home office, but we also miss being surrounded by the Archive and its countless bits of inspiration and delight.

So, as an addition to our Cabin F(or)ever kit, we’re pleased to bring you our first batch of background images selected from objects in the Online Archive, each carefully cropped and edited for Zoom. Now you can use our periodical wall to visualize your ideal home library, wallpaper your room with Paul Rand, furnish your apartment with type from Caslon’s 1844 specimen, live inside an issue of Emigre, or do “some blue sky thinking” with Martin Venezky.

Nov 10, 2020 | Behind the Scenes

A Librarian’s Update on Our New Home

Despite pandemic restrictions, the Archive’s Collections Team is actively (and safely) making our new space feel like home.

The calm before the storm. A look at the new vault and staff workspace soon after the buildout was finally complete and before the big move began.

As you may have heard, we moved to a new space in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood in September. Like a lot of things this year, it didn't come easy, but it feels like a fresh start. At our original location in Potrero Hill, we were just plain out of room — for desks, for books, for collections care projects. Despite turning every corner and closet available into bookcases, our shelves were overflowing. We had to keep incoming collections in boxes after processing them, because we didn't have a linear inch to spare.

Sep 30, 2020 | Behind the Scenes

Leila Weefur and Alejandro Chavetta Join Our Board of Directors

Letterform Archive will benefit from the fresh perspective and expertise of two creative innovators as we expand the board.

We are pleased and honored to welcome two new members to our Board of Directors. A familiar face to anyone who has seen our membership video, Leila Weefur was a visiting researcher in our early years, and their story about exploring Blackness in advertising and typography at the Archive can be seen in The Occasional. Alejandro Chavetta has partnered with us on many projects, including exhibitions at Astro Studios where he was creative director, and content-creation for Adobe’s Create platform (now Discover), where he serves as Editor in Chief. Leila and Alejandro join an expanding board which aims to represent and respond to our broad community.

May 4, 2020 | Behind the Scenes

Sponsor a Shelf

Thousands of books and other design artifacts are lined up for the big Archive move. You can complete their journey.

Paul Rand bookshelf illustration as an animation with frowns turning upside down
Little 1 (detail), 1962. See the entire book, written by Ann Rand and illustrated by Paul Rand, in the Online Archive.

Like many of you, we're working from home. That doesn't mean, however, we aren't still planning the move and thankful to be working with our crews to complete the buildout as safely as possible.

And, right now, your support is more important than ever.

Feb 4, 2020 | Behind the Scenes

Preparing to Move the Archive

A good friend will help you move some books, but a true friend will help you move 60,000.

Hey, can we borrow your truck?

Earlier this week, special guest Amos Kennedy Jr. visited the Archive while we were examining our largest books to prep for the move.

We’re so excited to move into our new home, because once we’re all settled in, we’ll be able to better serve our community — you! When most people think about moving, cardboard boxes and packing tape dance in their heads. But to move an archive, we’ll need more than bubble wrap, Sharpies, and trash bags.

Dec 4, 2019 | Behind the Scenes

An Update on Our New Home

Thanks to you, our new space is taking shape. Here’s a peek at what we’re building together.

photo of Letterform Archive reading room under construction
The new Letterform Archive reading room under construction.

In July, we announced the surprising — but ultimately opportune — news that Letterform Archive needs a new home. We asked for your help, and you delivered. Over 300 donors from at least 15 countries supported our move campaign. With matching pledges from Emigre and an anonymous donor, we crossed the midway mark of our $200,000 goal.

Nov 25, 2019 | Behind the Scenes

Thank you, Amelia

After over four years as our librarian, Amelia Grounds is turning the page for a new role at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. Here are a few of her proudest accomplishments and favorite things from the Archive.

Jul 3, 2019 | Behind the Scenes

A New Home for Letterform Archive

We urgently need a new home. Luckily, we found the one we always imagined. Now you can make it a reality.

A few months ago our landlord informed us that they wanted Letterform Archive out of the building.

The shock of this news soon faded as we recognized the drawbacks of our current location. In so many ways, we are near or beyond capacity.

When we imagine the Archive of the future, we imagine a place worthy of the history we hold. We see a purpose-built, contiguous space for classes, tours, collections, and staff. We dream of a larger venue for events, where more of our community can gather. We picture a dedicated gallery for exhibits. We long for accessibility to public transit. Most of all, we need room to grow.

When we imagine the Archive of the future we picture something like this:

Nov 12, 2018 | Behind the Scenes

Susan Kare and Louise Sandhaus Join Our Board of Directors

We welcome two design icons with the experience and vision to help shape Letterform Archive’s future.

We are pleased and humbled to announce two new members of our Board of Directors. Beyond their impactful professional resumes, Susan Kare and Louise Sandhaus exemplify the range of background and engagement with the design community that will help guide the Archive in our pivotal early years.

Mar 16, 2018 | Behind the Scenes

Thank you, Camille

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.

Nov 20, 2017 | Behind the Scenes

Letterform Archive and AIGA in Minneapolis

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.

Jul 13, 2017 | Behind the Scenes

The New Face of Letterform Archive

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.