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This Just In: The Darden Type Design Archive

Hundreds of annotated font proofs from Joshua Darden document and illuminate the process of making typefaces.

Joshua Darden at ATypI in Prague, 2004. Photo: Jean François Porchez.

Joshua Darden, born 1979 in Los Angeles, California, published his first typeface in 1995 at the age of 15, becoming the first known African-American typeface designer. For the next ten years he honed his skills as an independent type foundry, and then as a staff designer at the renowned Hoefler Type Foundry under the direction of Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. He struck out on his own again in 2005, opening a new foundry, Darden Studio, and releasing his most ambitious and recognized design, Freight.

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Calendar Design in the Online Archive

A variety of planners, event guides, and type specimens offer over a dozen ways to represent the year through lettering and typography.

We’re starting 2024 with a selection of objects in the Online Archive that chart Gregorian timekeeping across the twentieth century. This compilation includes traditional calendars, fonts crafted explicitly for typesetting calendars, branded promotional calendars, and material that reveals the process of making a very unusual calendar. We hope these ideas inspire you throughout the year.

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Now Online: Lettering and Type Talks from 2023 and Beyond

Our video collections let you catch up on every Letterform Lecture, and — for the first time — all Salon Series recordings back to 2019.

In 2023 Letterform Archive hosted dozens of online and onsite events exploring typographic history and contemporary design, and covering a wide range of writing systems and locales, from Arabic to Cherokee, Buenos Aires to Vienna.

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Now Online: Artists’ Books, Broadsides, Calligraphy, Ephemera, and Type Specimens

We just added over 500 objects and nearly 6,000 images to our Online Archive, the largest expansion since the site launched.

Collections Assistant Eve Scarborough and Digitization Librarian April Harper prepare a book for photography.

Letterform Archive strives for radical access to our collection of lettering, typography, and graphic design. That ethos demands that we digitally preserve as much material as we can and make it available to our international community. To that end, we’re continually expanding the Online Archive, a free repository of visual inspiration. The latest batch of additions is the largest since the site launched, and includes work by Jack Stauffacher, Amos Kennedy Jr., Camp Books, Hunter Saxony III, hundreds of typeface specimens, the first taste of the Sheaff Ephemera Collection, and much more.

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This Just In: Schriftenkartei, a Typeface Index

This treasure chest of 600+ specimen cards holds a complete snapshot of the last metal type foundries in Germany.

Produced between 1958 and 1971, the Schriftenkartei (Typeface Index) represents a West German agency’s effort to catalog all the country’s typefaces in production at the time. The cards are useful for type researchers and designers as they share a common format and show complete character sets — a resource not often included in foundry specimens. Thanks to a generous donation, a set of these cards is now in Letterform Archive’s collection, and scans are available online.

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Type History Toolkit, Part 3: Non-Linear Lenses

The last installment of our design education toolkit offers alternative ways to teach and learn typography using themed tables in the Online Archive.

The Archive’s wide-ranging collection allows many entry points into type history. In earlier posts we offered a conventional chronological approach, and a global perspective. Over the years the Archive team built out a wide variety of tables in the Online Archive based on their interests or responding to a tour’s requirements. Many of these explore typographically significant themes, movements, and subcultures in graphic design, offering alternative ways to teach and learn about letterforms.

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