Some type genres explained

I originally put together this classification for Typedia in early 2012 (before development of a new version of the site was stopped). It was meant to be practical rather than historically waterproof, hopefully not too sophisticated for newbies but with enough groups to aid adding typefaces to the database, and also helping with typeface selection and pairing. Eine Wollmilchsau also, as the Germans say.

 
1 Serif: humanist, realist, rational, variants, decorative
2 Sans: humanist, grotesque, geometric, variants, decorative
3 Slab: humanist, rational, geometric, variants, decorative
4 Script: Chancery, Roundhand, Handwritten, Decorative
5 Blackletter
6 Pi

 

1. Serif
1.1 Humanist
The Humanist Serif, also referred to as “Old Style”, is the original form of Roman typefaces developed in the Renaissance period of the 15th century. It can be further divided into the Venetian style, typically with an angled crossbar on the lowercase ‘e’, and the French style, in which the ‘e’ usually has a smaller eye.

Both variants share a gradually modulated, moderate stroke contrast with an oblique stress in the round parts. An axis drawn through the thin parts would be diagonal. The serifs are usually bracketed, sometimes asymmetrical. Top serifs are mostly angular. Apertures are open and character forms are diverse. Capitals follow the proportions of inscriptional Roman letterforms (Capitalis) and are of varied width. The ‘R’ has a diagonal leg, typically relatively long. Italics are similar to the Chancery Script.

The Humanist, or “dynamic” form model is derived from writing with a broad-nib pen held at a consistent angle. This principle is called “translation”. The Vox classification uses the term “Garalde” for this style, derived from the names of the most iconic printers of the 15th century: Claude Garamond and Aldus Manutius. Occasionally, the term “Aldine” is used.

Examples: Jenson, Garamond
 

1.2 Realist
The Realist Serif, often called “Transitional”, fits somewhere between the Humanist style of the Renaissance and the modern, Rationalist form model of the Neoclassical period. It is also sometimes referred to as “Baroque”.

Its key characteristics are an increased contrast, mostly vertical stress, and more regular letterforms and proportions – a gradual rationalization away from forms that resemble handwriting. In the Realist form model, traces of the broad-nib pen can still be seen, yet the angle of the pen varies. This principle is called “rotation”.

Apertures are slightly reduced, the leg of the ‘R’ is straightened but is still mostly diagonal, serifs are bracketed, and terminals often lachrymal (bulbous tear drops). The capitals are of more consistent width and the x-height is generally larger.

Examples: Caslon, Baskerville
 

1.3 Rational
The Rational Serif, also called “Modern” or “Neoclassical”, is traditionally characterized by a strong, vertical stroke contrast between thick vertical stems and fine horizontal hairlines. Serifs are horizontal, either thin and abrupt, or bracketed, as in the “Scotch” subcategory.
The letterforms are consistently structured, similar in proportion and details, and often feature ball terminals. Capitals are more narrow and of approximately the same width. Apertures are relatively closed. Italics are similar to the Roundhand script. These characteristics are retained even when the contrast decreases.

The Rational, or “static” form model, with its rather unmodulated contrast, is the result or writing with a pointed pen. The nib spreads in relation to the pressure applied during a downstroke, while other strokes remain thin. This principle is called “expansion”. The Vox Classification uses the term “Didone”, derived from the names of the famous printers Firmin Didot and Giambattista Bodoni

Examples: Bodoni, Scotch Roman
 

1.4 Variants
This group covers serif typefaces based on early scribal, incised, and inscriptional forms. These include Rustica, Uncial, Gaelic, and other typefaces of indistinct or mixed form models. Typefaces with very small “spur serifs” can also belong here.

Uncial is a Celtic style of calligraphic script with forms created by a broad-nibbed pen at an almost horizontal angle, but sometimes more tilted in later variants. There are no separate upper- and lowercase forms in pure Uncial designs — roman lowercase letters with ascenders and descenders developed from the Uncial and half-Uncial forms of the Middle Ages.

Examples: Albertus, Copperplate, American Uncial
 

1.5 Decorative
Decorative typefaces are usually too expressive or detailed to be used at small text sizes and are therefore also referred to as “Display”. In terms of appearance, they can be tooled, engraved, shaded, inlined, outlined, ornate, or whimsical. They can be constructed from non-typographical forms (such as objects and shapes) or rendered using non-traditional techniques (scraping, scratching, etc.)

Example: Caslon Open Face [not a great Example :]
 

2. Sans Serif
2.1 Humanist
The Humanist Sans follows a similar dynamic form model as the Humanist Serif of the Renaissance, with open apertures and letterforms of diverse proportions. The first typefaces in this style appeared in the early 20th century during a calligraphic resurgence to overcome what some saw was an excess of Victorian eclecticism. This movement was spearheaded by Edward Johnston in England and manifested in his design for the London Underground 1916. The typeface by his student Eric Gill from 1928 is regarded as the first popular example of the Humanist Sans style.

The capitals are of varied width, the ‘R’ has a diagonal leg, the ‘O’ is nearly a perfect circle, the ‘g’ is of double-storey form. Italics are often “true italics” of the original cursive form with, for instance, a moderate angle, narrower in width, a single-storey ‘a’ and ‘g’, and sometimes a descending ‘f’.

Examples: Gill Sans, Syntax
 

2.2 Grotesque
The sans-serif typefaces that first appeared in the catalog of English printers in the early 19th century were derided at the time as “grotesque”. But the style was only new to printing — sans-serif letterforms had already been used in lettering and inscriptions. William Caslon’s caps-only English Egyptian of 1816 is regarded as the earliest sans-serif font. The name has nothing to do with slab-serif type (in the way we use the word “Egyptian” today) — it refers instead to the fashion of the era for anything associated with Egypt. The Vox classification uses the term “Lineal”.

The characteristics of Grotesque typefaces are analogous to the Realist and Rational serif: regular proportions, caps of similar width, relatively static forms based on the oval, and closed apertures in letters like ‘C’, ‘G’, ‘a’, and ‘e’. One can also distinguish between the original, Realist sans serif — often referred to as “Gothic” or “industrial” — and the subsequent Rationalist “Neo-Grotesque” or “Grotesk” of the 20th century, especially popular in continental Europe.
While the Realist Gothic has generally narrower proportions, featuring an ‘R’ with diagonal leg and a two-storey ‘g’, the Rationalist Grotesk is wider, more consistent and even in letter shapes. The leg of the ‘R’ is mostly vertical and the ‘g’ is single-storey. Italics of both Grotesque variants are usually oblique romans with no cursive forms of ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘g’, etc.

Examples: Franklin Gothic, Helvetica
 

2.3 Geometric
The Geometric Sans developed in the 1920s in Germany in the attempt to find a letterform that better expresses the ideas of the Bauhaus and industrialization than did the “undesigned” vernacular Grotesques. Still, the most radical designs — such as those by Herbert Bayer and Joost Schmidt — were not executed as typefaces at the time.

The character shapes are “constructed” out of (optically corrected) geometric forms with circular round parts and usually very little stroke contrast. The ‘a’ and ‘g’ are usually single-storey, though the double-storey form of ‘a’ is found, too (as in one of the earliest Geometric typefaces by Jakob Erbar). The character width is diverse, with capitals following the proportions of the Roman Capitalis, and an ‘R’ with a diagonal leg. Italics are oblique romans with little more than optical adaptations.

Other typefaces in this category have square forms, based on a rectangle rather than a circle, or built up of other modular elements.

Examples: Futura, Bank Gothic
 

2.4 Variants
Variants of sans serifs include typefaces with clearly visible stroke contrast or tapered stems, often called “stressed” sans serifs.

Examples: Optima, Britannic
 

2.5 Decorative
Decorative sans serifs are usually too expressive or detailed to be used at small text sizes and are therefore also referred to as Display typefaces. In terms of appearance, they can be tooled, engraved, shaded, inlined, outlined, ornate, or whimsical. They can be constructed from non-typographical forms such as objects and shapes) or rendered using non-traditional techniques (scraping, scratching, etc.)

Example: Bernhard Fashion
 

3. Slab Serif
3.1 Humanist
Humanist Slab Serifs, just like their serif and sans-serif relatives, are based on the dynamic, Humanist form model. The stroke contrast is very low and serifs are straight or slightly bracketed. Apertures are generally open and proportions of the letterforms diverse.
The capitals are of varied width, the ‘R’ has a diagonal leg, the ‘g‘ is of double-storey form, and the ‘O’ is mostly a circle. Italics are often moderately slanted “true italics” derived from the original cursive form of ‘e’, single-storey ‘a’ and ‘g’, descending ‘f’, and narrower proportions.

Examples: PMN Caecilia, Chaparral
 

3.2 Rational
Rational Slab Serifs are characterized by heavy serifs that are almost the same thickness as the main strokes. They can be subdivided into two main groups: those with visible stroke contrast and bracketed serifs, and those with linear strokes and unbracketed, square serifs. Both styles were developed in the early 19th century in the course of a rising demand for eye-catching display and advertising typefaces. They share the Rational form model with closed apertures and consistent, generally broad proportions.

The group with low stroke contrast and bracketed serifs is often called “Clarendon” or “Egizian” after the genre’s most iconic typefaces. The ‘R’ has a vertical, curved tail; terminals of the ‘a’ and ‘g’ are often ball-shaped. The stress axis is vertical.

The linear, square-seriffed variant is called “Egyptian” or “Egyptienne”, probably derived from the widespread fascination for Egypt after Napoleon’s campaign around 1800. Especially in the US, the name “Antique” may be used to distinguish slab serifs from early sans serifs which were previously also called “Egyptian”. The Vox classification refers to all slab serifs as “Mécanes”.

Examples: Clarendon, Serifa
 

3.3 Geometric
The Geometric Slab Serif, like its sans-serif relative, is based on constructed, often modular geometric forms — either circular, oval, or rectangular. The ‘a’ and ‘g’ are usually of single-storey form. The ‘R’ has a straight, diagonal leg. Unlike most Geometric sans serifs, the characters are usually of consistent width which stresses the mechanical, technical impression. All strokes are of visually equal thickness and serifs are mostly square and unbracketed.

Examples: Memphis, Lubalin Graph
 

3.4 Decorative
There is a rich and abundant history of decorative and ornamented slab-serif display type designed in the 19th and early 20th century for posters and other jobbing work. These typefaces were especially flourishing in the United States and were usually produced as wood type since large sizes would become too heavy, expensive, and difficult to cast in metal. Unfortunately, the terminology used in the past and present to describe these designs is confusing and almost arbitrary.

The serifs of these display types can either be bracketed or square, furcated, or otherwise ornate. The letters are often shaded, tooled, or decorated with lines, pearls, or spurs. Some typefaces are intended for “chromatic” use, meaning two or more corresponding fonts are designed to be printed on top of each other to allow for multicolor text (eg. Rosewood and Rosewood Fill).

A common variant is the “reverse contrast” slab serif, also called “Italienne” or “French Antique” (without bracketing), and “French Clarendon” or “Aldine” (with bracketing): horizontal strokes and serifs are thicker than the stems. This results in the typical “Western” look where these kinds of typefaces were often used for playbills and posters.

The Tuscan style features furcated (split) or ornate serifs, stroke contrast (normal or reverse), and often a mid-stem decoration, for instance a spur.

The name “Latin” labels typefaces with heavy, triangular serifs.

Examples: Playbill, Thunderbird, Latin
 

4. Script
4.1 Chancery
The Chancery Script — sometimes also called “Cancellaresca” — is rooted in broad-nib calligraphy of the Renaissance period. It is based on cursive handwriting of the 15th and 16th century developed in Italy, hence the alternative term “italic”. Master calligraphers such as Arrighi, Palatino, and Tagliente published writing manuals to populate the “italic hand”.
The letters are only slightly slanted (or upright) and written with the pen held at a consistent 30°–45° angle. The stroke contrast is modulated and moderate. Letterforms are rather narrow, sometimes angular and sharp edged, similar to the italic styles in Humanist Serifs.

Example: Zapf Chancery
 

4.2 Roundhand
The Roundhand script is based on pointed-pen calligraphy and connected with the Baroque and Classicist style periods. It was developed in England in the late 17th century and widely popular throughout Europe and North America thereafter, propagated by writing masters like Shelley, Bickham, or Snell. It is also called “Spencerian” or “Copperplate Script”.

The stroke contrast, or rather the thick strokes, are achieved by putting pressure on the pen during a down stroke. All connecting hairlines and upstrokes are thin, and the slant is usually steep. This results in high contrast, narrow, oval forms with round connections and rich flourishing and ornamentation.

Examples: Snell Roundhand, Künstler Script
 

4.3 Handwritten, Brush
These are casual script styles that don’t closely follow traditional calligraphic models. They can be written with various tools and letterforms can be upright or slanted, connected or loose.

Examples: Caflisch Script, Brush Script
 

4.4 Decorative
Even more casual than handwritten typefaces, decorative scripts can mimic various lettering styles and techniques. They can be sketched, tooled engraved, shaded, inlined, outlined, ornate, whimsical or rendered using non-traditional techniques (scraping, scratching, constructed with geometric shapes, etc.)

Examples: Allegro, Futura Script
 

5. Blackletter
In Blackletter typefaces — also referred to as “broken script” or “Gothic” — some or all round parts of the letters are “broken” into straight strokes. This style was gradually developed in Medieval scriptoria so scribes could copy manuscripts faster than in the previously common Carolingian Minuscule hand. While the Humanist Serifs superseded Blackletter in Southern Europe during the Renaissance, the blackletter style — especially Fraktur — continued to be widely used in German speaking countries until the mid-20th century.

There are four subcategories of Blackletter typefaces:

Textura, also Textualis or Old English, is the oldest variant in which all round forms are “broken” into straight strokes. The terminals are triangular and capitals are usually ornamented. This results in a narrow, repetitive texture and a generally dark and densely written page — hence the name Textura. It was also the style of the first typeface cut and cast by Gutenberg in the mid 15th century.

Rotunda is the most round and simple variant and closely related to the Carolingian hand.

Schwabacher features partly straight, partly round forms. The ‘g’ has a unique design with a horizontal top stroke. The ‘o’ resembles a pointy oval.

Fraktur is the latest variant of Blackletter. Letterforms like ‘a’, ‘g’, ‘d’ or ‘o’ are round on one side and straight on the other. Terminals are triangular and ascenders often split. Many characters have unusual forms and are often confused by unfamiliar readers, for instance ‘B’ with ‘V’, ‘N’ with ‘R’, ‘I’ with ‘J’, the long form of ‘s’ with ‘f’, ‘k’ with ‘t’, ‘y’ with ‘h’, or ‘r’ with ‘x’.

Examples: Old English, Fette Fraktur
 

6. Pi, Dingbats, Ornaments
Non-alphabetic fonts containing symbols, pictures, emoji, shapes, or ornaments, etc.

Examples: Zapf Dingbats, Symbol
 

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The responsibilities of the graphic designer

In the 1980s Nick Shinn attended a talk by F. H. K. Henrion in which the latter listed the responsibilities of a graphic designer as something like this:

· Do original work, to a high standard of quality
· Educate the next generation of designers
· Organize one’s peers (industry bodies, trade shows, conferences)
· Promote the profession to the trade and general public (public relations, competitions)
· Cause marketing (he had designed wartime propaganda posters for the Ministry of Information (UK) – possibly “Keep Calm and Carry On” – and later volunteered his services to causes he believed in, e.g. designing posters for Oxfam)

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Typo 9010

First impression: Oh nice, it’s so light weight and soft!

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(Second impression: Mhh…)

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Third: Oh wow, so many typefaces, so many interesting people!

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Gotta flip deeper now, more impressions to come.

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The Pyte Foundry

Dies verspricht ein interessantes Projekt zu werden: Ellmer Stefan veröffentlicht jeden Montag in 2016 eine neue Display-Schrift, die nur für eine Woche kostenlos von der Webseite seiner Pyte Foundry erhältlich sein wird. Yay, kostenlose Schriften! Besonders neugierig macht mich jedoch das Konzept, auf dem die Schriften basieren bzw. gestaltet werden sollen. Er schreibt auf der About-Seite:

Paying tribute to the typographic diversity of the 19th century, this project’s aim is not historical accuracy — none of the typefaces are strict revivals of specific typefaces produced in the Victorian era. […] The digital Founts are generated using a component-based system that globally applies changes made to independently adjustable letter parts, such as stems or serifs. This approach mirrors the production methods envisioned for the making of wood types around 1880: in “American Wood Type 1818–1900” historian Rob Roy Kelly refers to a series of inventions by William H. Page using interchangeable modules in the creation of wood type letters enabling the rapid manufacturing of new styles.”

Eines meiner Lieblingsbücher (das es übrigens in einer günstigen reprint-Ausgabe gibt). Am besten auf Ellmers Seite weiterlesen. Und jeden Montag bei The Pyte Foundry vorbei schauen und sehen, welche irren Variationen diese Woche erhältlich sind.

“The emancipation from stroke-based letter design and the exploration of new types of stroke contrast lead to the development of highly imaginative typefaces displaying a sense of formal freedom seldomly encountered in today’s sober and controlled typographic environment. his project is a digital protraction of these Victorian vulgarities. For those who fear the “degredation of typographic culture” — here is what I have for you: a set of 52 Display Typefaces conforming to no other standard than that of visual pleasure!”

Animation, die das Designprinzip illustriert. The Pyte Foundry

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Rabatte und Schrift-Trends

Eine Passage aus Sven Fuchs’ MA Arbeit, die mich nachdenklich gemacht hat:

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Können Preise und Rabatte typografische Trends beeinflussen und »schlechtere Typografie« zur Folge haben? (Schlechter im Sinne von weniger idealer, beliebiger Schriftwahl.) Sehen wir so unglaublich viel Open Sans auf all diesen Webseiten, klein und groß, weil sie die passendste Schrift für diese Seiten ist oder einfach nur weil sie so unschlagbar billig ist? Prägt diese extrem häufige Verwendung einer bestimmten Schrift Trends im landläufigen Webdesign?

Über diese und ähnliche Dinge grüble und diskutiere ich bereits seit längerem, vor allem im Bezug auf »Schriften mieten« vs. »Schriften für die Ewigkeit lizenzieren«, und »Katalog-Abos« vs. »Einzellizenzen«. Wenn ich mir einen Vorrat von unbeschränkt lizenzierten Schriften auf Halde lege, werde ich für eine Aufgabe eher nur Schriften aus diesem Bestand auswählen und nicht aus dem großen Fundus aller Schriften dieser Welt. Meine Auswahl wird also immer eingeschränkt und evt. nicht ideal sein, aber meine Schrift-Investitionen sollten sich ja auch amortisieren. Muss ich aber für jede Anwendung die Schriften neu lizenzieren und darf sie nicht unendlich lange nutzen, wie es z.B. bei vielen Webfonts oder gemieteten Desktop-Schriften der Fall ist, dann entscheide ich mich evt. immer neu und passend für eine individuelle Schrift aus dem Gesamtpool des Angebots, und nicht unbedingt für eine, die ich in der Vergangenheit schon mal verwendet hatte. Lizenzieren auf Zeit, bzw. Schrift-Miet-Services wie Fontstand sind also theoretisch gut für die typografische Vielfalt und letztendlich die gestalterische Qualität unserer Arbeiten, im Gegensatz zum unbefristeten Lizenzieren, welches die Wieder- und Wiederverwendung der immer gleichen Schriften befördert.

Und weiter: wenn ich noch nichts vorab lizenziert habe und alle Schriften ungefähr ähnlich teuer sind, werde ich wahrscheinlich diejenigen aussuchen, die ich am passendsten finde – aber auch die, für die es überzeugende Schriftmuster und Information gibt, die am einfachsten zu lizenzieren ist, oder wo ich guten Kundenservice bekomme. Ein extrem niedriger Preis jedoch ist ein so überragend starkes Kaufargument für viele Leute, dass es das klassische Marketing verzerrt oder gar aushebeln kann. Schriftmarketing, das unsere Kaufentscheidung beeinflusst (bzw. beeinflussen will) und die Idee von Schriften als Verkaufsargument für Technik/Geräte gab es schon lange, fast immer. (Adobe, zum Beispiel, möchte uns mit Typekit und ihren Schriften am Ende des Tages auch nur ein Creative Cloud Abo schmackhaft machen.) Nur im Handsatz, nach der Standardisierung von Maßen, und nun mit digitalen Schriften konnten wir frei entscheidend Schriften von verschiedenen Herstellern nutzen und kombinieren. Hoffentlich auch weiterhin. Bis irgendwann bestimmte Schriften oder Services nur noch mit bestimmten Programmen oder Betriebssystemen funktionieren werden. Bis vielleicht Schriften von »Drittanbietern« zum Beispiel nicht mehr in Microsoft Office Programmen funktionieren …

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Fonts In Use turned five!?

Can’t believe we launched Fonts In Use five years ago today. What started as a humble blog with not even a handful of writers developed into an enormous, divers resource with countless contributors.

One of my favourite posts still is the one about type at the Bauhaus that I wrote in the very early days (actually, reposted from this site [oh dear, kaputt image links]) although it is very brief and I would write it very very differently today. It is a favourite because of the discussion that followed and that, back then, it still seemed OK to post something short and not super elaborate and eloquent. Put a proposition out there and let the ensuing discussion take over, then subsequently expand and clarify on the points that people find interesting or debatable. But no one is commenting on the internet like this today. The standards for good blog post became so high (deep topic, solid research, excellent imagery, engaging layout and presentation, detailed references …) that they discourage me to even write/attempt one. I recently decided that I don’t want this to be the case on my own blog any longer though. (As you probably noticed, confusedly babbling here more again.)

Here’s to more interesting discussions on the internet in coming years, and especially many more about fonts in use and Fonts In Use.

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Two tweets from my drafts

What’s the reason for the current thin-skinnedness in type all-around? I think, constant aggressive marketing causing stress and jadedness, and
and sheer Existenzangst. Can’t blame anyone for being sensitive. Might need more fundamental changes than just shutting up in public though.

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Alphabettes

Unbelievable that it’s only been two months (Sept 10) since we launched Alphabettes.org, our new blog on all things type-related, and only one month more since we gathered together as Alphabettes, a loose group of women in type, typography, and the lettering arts. It’s been quite a summer (and we’ve been making quite some waves) but finally having a good place to post what’s on my mind regarding type and our industry — quick, informal, diverse, occasionally super-specialized (where can you write about matrix production in metal type days these days?) and, above all, with awesome new friends — is easily one of the best things that happened to me this year.

To many more quarters, ’bettes! 🍹

 

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Max Bollwage’s caricatures of type people

Today, my friend Max Bollwage turns 88. I was lucky to get to know this grand Gebrauchsgrafiker and illustrator from Stuttgart at a DIN-classification meeting in 1998 (perhaps the best thing that came out of this meeting) and we stayed in touch ever since. He can look back on a full career and life, designing a broad range of things, from small hand-lettered book-covers to complex design systems such as working on the corporate design of Sparkasse. For years, mainly at type conferences and other gatherings, Max keenly observed and then sketched his colleagues with a quick hand. Erik van Blokland recently found a stash of fun portraits on a back-up drive with ATypI Antwerp things from 1993. Can you guess who is who?

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More images in Erik’s album on Flickr

Happy birthday, Max!

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Type excursion through Italy

Early June, I spent a week in northern Italy visiting print shops and other interesting sites on a small type field trip around Kerning conference. It was also an exploration of all the different types of trains Tren Italia is deploying these days. I flew to Milan Linate (wise decision), took the bus to the main station (wonderful from the outside, nightmarish to navigate inside), and then a slooow, crowded and hot regional train to Torino. There I met with David Shields, who happend to be stationed in Florence for VCU summer school, and we took another train to Alpignano to visit Tallone Editore, Italy’s last printer/publisher solely working with foundry type and mostly hand-made paper, run by Enrico Tallone and his family. We got an introduction ot the company and their superb products from his lovely English speaking daughters (Enrico doesn’t speak English) before they showed us around the print shop where also some font-ID fun was waiting for me.

Enrico and one of his daughters

At the Tallone print shop

Nebiolo modular type and locomotives

The highlight was Enrico showing us his rare woodtype specimen books. Jaw-dropping.

David Shields speechless

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Next stop was Archivio Tipografico in the center of Turin, where we would meet Nick Sherman who couldn’t make it out to Alpignano. Archivio, named after the celebrated corporate magazine of Nebiolo, is a wonderful print shop cooperative, preserving old type, machines, and producing printed matter for diverse clients; also some type ephemera, like a small brochure about the work of Aldo Novarese. This page, for instance, is showing some of Novarese’s typefaces and the corresponding printing forme with sorts stuck between wine corks:

Letters by Aldo Novarese as printed by Archivio Tipografico

Forme with rotated letters at Archivio Tipografico

David had to go back to Florence but Nick and I stayed in Turin, checking out the pizza at piazza Giambattista Bodoni. Couldn’t get more topical.

Alla Lettra at piazza Giambattista Bodini  Torino

After exploring more of Turin’s sights we took the train to Bologna, the pretty comfortable, superfast one this time. I even bought four tickets by accident, two for adults, two for kids, which we learned while chatting with a kind fellow passenger about fonts.

So good to be back in Bologna at our friend’s shop, Anonima Impressori! Team Baguette, Jean-Baptiste Levèe and Loïc Sander, joined us, too, reviving our visit from 2014 when we also went there on our way to Kerning conference. This time though, Nick determined we should print something, and why not with the largest type they had? These über-letters are cut in half or even quarters and assembled on the press and were larger than the largest press they had, so we had to print in two runs, first bottom, then top half.

The largest type at Anonima Impressori is cut in half

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Done!

After a lovely night out eating and drinking Bolognese delicacies, we drove to Faenza, a charming “normal” Italian town between Bologna and Rimini where the conference would take place. Most conference goers stayed at Hotel Vittoria (recommended), some of us visited the cemetery (very recommended), or just hung out in the nice courtyard at the hotel. The conference venue is a historic theatre/cinema, a fantastic setting with an adjecent cosy courtyard where we would hang out between talk and snack on more Italian delicacies, or peek into the small historic print shop that is also part of the ensemble. This year, I was invited to give a talk on choosing typefaces, alongside a great line-up with, among others, Laura Worthington, Tobias Frere-Jones, Bruno Maag, and Nicholas Felton. Many type friends come from quite far away to Faenza to enjoy the friendly layed-back atmosphere — and you should totally, too, next year!

Tradition has it that we would visit Tipoteca Italiana in Cornuda after Kerning, where we thus drove on Saturday morning. Since our last visit, Tipoteca greatly expanded and stepped up its game, although it was already the greatest and neatest and well-kept type museum I’ve ever been to (see my report from 2014 in the 365typo book). Opposite of the main building now opened a newly built house with lecture hall, seminar rooms, and a superb restaurant where we met Tipoteca maestro Sandro Berra, joined in by Team Geek, Nina Stössinger and Tobias Frere-Jones. Although we made it relatively singlemindedly through the vast exhibition to have more time at the library, we didn’t even get to the room with the woodtype storage in time before we were totally “fuso”. Obviously, not even two visits are enough.

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Metropol flyer

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Forma

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After-type drinks. The firsts of many aperol spritzes that day. We spent the evening in near-by Treviso, surprise-joined by Claudio Rocha, heading home after some ice-cream and 35+ salade de fruits. The band:

New Indie Rock Band

The Bolzonello Lawn Conference the following morning was more meta this time than last year’s edition, nevertheless a staple in our busy event schedule by now. Pre conf internetting:

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We hit the road towards Veneziaaa (Team Baguette) and Paduaaa (Team Malade) respectively, heavily packed with poster rolls and book bags. After hanging out for three sad hours at Padua train station due to overbooked trains, we had the privilege to experience yet another fine product of Tren Italia rocking us towards our final destination, Milano. There, we explored the modernist Milan subway signage system (sporting a typeface I mistakenly identified as Forma), and met The Dan Rhatigan & friends for food and drinks with a view. And after another last day exporing type, lettering, architecture and Italian delicacies, I flew home, exhausted but endlessly inspired and ready to learn ever more about Italian type over the summer. To be continued.

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