Interview with Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson
Doug Wilson, director of Linotype: The Film

During Typo Berlin 2011, I had the opportunity to speak with Doug Wilson about the upcoming Linotype: The Film documentary.

Oh his site for the film, Doug writes, “The film tells the surprisingly emotional story of the people connected to the Linotype and how it impacted the world. We have discovered that the Linotype was more than just a machine – it was a career, a skill, and a passion. Even in the face of modern technology, many still believe it to be the best way to create beautiful typography. Although the film is about a machine from the past, we have found that the Linotype is still a relevant piece of printing technology that has something to say about the future of communication and news.”

To help wrap-up production work on Linotype: The Film, Doug has created a second Kickstarter campaign to help raise additional funds. There are some attractive incentives for donors available, and I contributed to the campaign myself, since this is a film I can’t wait to see.


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Radio Portrait of Eric Gill (1961)

As part of retrospective on British sculptors, the BBC has recently re-published a 1961 radio program on Eric Gill (1882–1940). This hour-long discussion of Gill’s life and work may be streamed from the BBC Archive website. Most readers of our blog are likely to associate Gill with typeface design, due to works like Gill Sans, Joanna, or Perpetua. For most of Gill’s lifetime, however, he was better known as a letter carver and sculptor.

Produced by Douglas Cleverdon, the BBC Radio Portrait is presented by Guy Brenton, and includes interviews with Joseph Cribb, Martin D’Arcy, George Friend, Joan Hague, David Jones, David Kindersley, Francis Meynell, Stanley Morison, Conrad Pepler, Michael Ritchie, Denis Tegetmeir, Petra Tegetmeir, and Beatrice Warde.

One hears quite a cast of characters in this program. Aside from Gill’s daughters Joan (Joanna) and Petra, David Kindersley, Stanley Morison and Beatrice Warde each reminisce about the man. Kindersley (1915–1995) was an apprentice of Gill’s, who later went on to run his own letter-carving studio. His widow, Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley, continues their tradition today at the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop in Cambridge.

Morison (1889–1967) was a long-time typographical adviser to both the Monotype Corporation and the Cambridge University Press; he is attributed as the designer behind Times New Roman, and worked with The Times of London for decades. In this BBC radio interview, Morison repeats his admiration for Gill’s uppercase inscriptional letters, and calling the capitals of his typefaces “immortal.” Morison was the prime-mover behind Gill’s career as a typeface designer; without his prodding and commissions, it is unlikely that Gill would have taken up this activity.

Warde (1900–1969) was a typographic publicist and scholar. For many years, she spearheaded Monotype’s publicity efforts in the UK, editing the Monotype Recorder and lecturing widely to the country’s professional audiences. Aside from her often quoted 1934 lecture, “The Crystal Goblet, or Printing Should Be Invisible,” Warde is remembered today for her essay, “The Garamond Types – a study of XVI and XVII century sources.” Published under her pseudonym Paul Beaujon, this appeared in volume five of The Fleuron (1926), which was edited by Morison.

As to Gill’s typefaces, we will still have to wait and see if they will indeed become immortal. In the meantime, they remain inspirational. Gill Sans – as close as an unofficial corporate typeface as Great Britain is ever likely to have – is still one of Monotype’s best-selling typefaces, 80-years on. Perpertua Italic was used to set Buckingham Palace’s invitations for the recent “Royal Wedding” of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Joanna‘s narrow width and brilliant upright italic remain an inspiration to type designers today.

As the BBC page that hosts the interview states, “This programme was made many decades before revelations about Gill’s private life were made public. These revelations and the effect they had on Gill’s reputation are discussed in ‘Night Waves : Eric Gill’.” It is appropriate that this is mentioned. Readers who would like to learn more about this side of Gill will be well served by Fiona MacCarthy’s 1989 biography, Eric Gill: A Lover’s Quest for Art and God, discussed in this 2006 article in The Guardian: “Written in stone.”

Readers in the London area may have seen Public and private art earlier this year, an exhibition of Gill’s work at the British Museum. While this show recently came to an end, Ruth and Joe Cribb have published an accompanying catalog, which I recommend.

The radio program may be listened to here:

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Linotype at TYPO-Berlin 2011

Linotype Booth
Linotype’s booth inside the Haus der Kulturen der Welt for the TYPO-Berlin 2011 conference. Pictured from left to write are Tobias Meyerhoff, Rebecca Schalber, and Martin Haeckel.

One of the first thing that visitors to TYPO-Berlin notice upon entering the venu is the number of vendor booths in the reception era. For event-sponsors like Linotype, TYPO-Berlin represents an invaluable opportunity to meet face-to-face with hundreds of practicing graphic designers. It is no surprise then that Linotype GmbH has a booth at TYPO-Berlin. But what exactly goes on at a booth like ours? Our primary goal is simply to be accessible. For three days, anyone can visit our booth to ask us a question, learn about font licensing, font management, or webfonts. Visitors also often come by to receive typeface recommendations, to lodge a complaint, or even to just chat about typography and graphic design.


Typographic Sightseeing in Berlin

This week, over 1,000 graphic designers from the world over will gather in the German capital for the annual TYPO-Berlin conference. The venue for the event is the Berlin congress center Haus der Kulturen der Welt, or the house of world cultures. Linotype GmbH will have a booth in this building’s reception area. If you’ll be attending TYPO-Berlin 2011, stop by and say hello! We’ll have several employees ready to field questions, or make fonts suggestions. A number of brochures showcasing Linotype typefaces will be distributed at the booth, free-of-charge.

For TYPO-Berlin attendees not from the Berlin-area, here are ten typographic resources in city that I’d like to recommend.