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Old 05-10-2005, 07:12 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Sumner Stone on designing type

While poking around on the web, I stumbled across an interesting essay for the AIGA Design Forum by type designer Sumner Stone —
Type Design Influences: Lloyd Reynolds, Hermann Zapf, Jack Stauffacher

It was the mention of Lloyd Reynolds that caught my eye. He taught calligraphy while I was at Reed College, and although I didn’t take the class, calligraphy was pervasive on campus (I went to the only college where the exhortation “Bus your dishes” was written in beautiful chancery cursive), and like almost everyone there at the time, I too had my manuals and flat-nibbed pens.

Reynolds retired in the 1960s, I think. But he has had a major influence on type design in the digital era, as several of his students became important type designers:
  • Sumner Stone: the ITC Stone family, Cycles, Arepo, Silica, the ITC Bodoni project; also first type director for Adobe Systems, overseeing development of Myriad, Minion, Adobe Garamond, and more
  • Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes (Bigelow & Holmes): the huge Lucida family and others
  • Paul Shaw: calligrapher, type critic (for Print magazine), co-designer for LetterPerfect (with Garrett Boge) of the Legacy of Letters collection and other fonts

   
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:32 AM   #2
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KT:

an interesting essay for the AIGA Design Forum

Why are interesting articles on design almost invariably too small to read? Fortunately, there's a PDF, which I have downloaded.

   
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Old 05-10-2005, 10:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Michael Rowley
Why are interesting articles on design almost invariably too small to read? Fortunately, there's a PDF, which I have downloaded.
Maybe your monitor is too good?

Honestly, I do not know. I was able to read that page, actually — but often find web sites have type that is much too small.

   
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:24 AM   #4
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KT:

often find web sites have type that is much too small

I found Stone's article was in far too small a print for my sight, though the PDF (set in Cycles 1 pt) just fine.

Incidentally, isn't Cycles remarkably like Founders Caslon—or is it just me? Of course, Stone does say that Cycles revives the custom of having fonts to suit the size.

   
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Old 05-15-2005, 04:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
While poking around on the web, I stumbled across an interesting essay for the AIGA Design Forum by type designer Sumner Stone —
Type Design Influences: Lloyd Reynolds, Hermann Zapf, Jack Stauffacher

It was the mention of Lloyd Reynolds that caught my eye. He taught calligraphy while I was at Reed College, and although I didn’t take the class, calligraphy was pervasive on campus (I went to the only college where the exhortation “Bus your dishes” was written in beautiful chancery cursive), and like almost everyone there at the time, I too had my manuals and flat-nibbed pens.

Reynolds retired in the 1960s, I think. But he has had a major influence on type design in the digital era, as several of his students became important type designers:
  • Sumner Stone: the ITC Stone family, Cycles, Arepo, Silica, the ITC Bodoni project; also first type director for Adobe Systems, overseeing development of Myriad, Minion, Adobe Garamond, and more
  • Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes (Bigelow & Holmes): the huge Lucida family and others
  • Paul Shaw: calligrapher, type critic (for Print magazine), co-designer for LetterPerfect (with Garrett Boge) of the Legacy of Letters collection and other fonts
Thank you, Kathleen, for posting the reference to Sumner Stone's article. I picked up his book, _On Stone_, from Hamilton Books (another source I owe to you) a few years ago, but I've never gotten around to reading it--must move it up in the stack.

I keep thinking there's at least one more major name in type design (besides Stone, Holmes, and Bigelow) from the Reynolds tradition, but I can't come up with it right now. Paul Shaw was in the class of '76 at Reed, so his calligraphy teacher would have been Bob Palladino, unless he took some time off (not all that unlikely, given the times).

I also have a minor quibble with Stone's chronology. He graduated (okay, was graduated, for purists) in '67. I took the calligraphy class from Palladino in '70 - '71, and my memory is that it was the first time he had taught it. Kris Holmes was also in my graduating class ('72), and I know from her own writing that she took the course from Reynolds. It was almost unheard of for a freshman to get into Calligraphy, so I think the earliest she could have taken the course is '69 - '70. He was certainly still very much a presence on campus, taking part, for example, in the Black Student Union debates in the '68 - '69 academic year. My closest contact with him, unfortunately, was selling him some pens in the bookstore.

A sad part of the story is that, a few years later, Calligraphy was killed by the faculty. My information is second hand (from the alumni magazine), but the story is that the rest of the art department didn't consider calligraphy real "art," and wanted the slot for another course. Palladino had been told that, as an adjunct professor, he did not have to attend faculty meetings, and, when he didn't, his course was canceled without his even having a chance to defend it. I still bring this up every year before pledging my contribution to the alumni fund, much to the puzzlement, I'm sure, of the undergraduates making the phone calls!

Calligraphy the year I took the class was half a unit of studio art and half a unit of art history. It is without any doubt the most important class I took at Reed, rivalled only by Richard Jones' "English Constitutional History" and John Strawn's "American Social History." (And Fred "dammit, I'm going to teach you to play the piano if it kills you and me both!" Rothschild's piano lessons, but that's another story.)

Why? I was never a very good calligrapher, but the history of the development of our letterforms is the framework I use to tie everything together. I know why Henry VIII's handwriting looks the way it does, and what was going on in the world that made Elizabeth I's different. I know why it's important that the fall of Constantinople is almost coincident with Gutenberg's press.

I can wonder why the blurbs on paperback books are so often set in typefaces with "Venetian" slanted-bar e's (albeit sans serif).

Those examples seem trivial when I reread them--I'm sure many other forum members can make the same connections. My point is that this course didn't just started some major artists on their careers in type design; it provided the armature on which an unglamorous liberal arts student could could assemble everything from Phoenicia to Silicon Valley.

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Old 05-15-2005, 04:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Ladner
Thank you, Kathleen, for posting the reference to Sumner Stone's article. I picked up his book, _On Stone_, from Hamilton Books (another source I owe to you) a few years ago, but I've never gotten around to reading it--must move it up in the stack.
I have to confess that I didn’t really read most of it until recently. I like his succinct and pointed history of type — very refreshing. I commend it to you. (I schlepped the book into my bedroom, and read at it off and on when I have trouble sleeping. Tsk.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Ladner
I keep thinking there's at least one more major name in type design (besides Stone, Holmes, and Bigelow) from the Reynolds tradition, but I can't come up with it right now.
I have the same feeling. I fell into a Wiki about Reed, and entered Stone, Holmes, and Bigelow because they were not included anywhere; but I also feel as if I have left someone out. Guess we should try to remember.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Ladner
Paul Shaw was in the class of '76 at Reed, so his calligraphy teacher would have been Bob Palladino, unless he took some time off (not all that unlikely, given the times).
Probably was Palladino.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Ladner
I also have a minor quibble with Stone's chronology. He graduated (okay, was graduated, for purists) in '67. I took the calligraphy class from Palladino in '70 - '71, and my memory is that it was the first time he had taught it.
I cannot find Sumner’s comment (need to read more carefully), but I thought he took a summer course with Reynolds — not a regular class while at Reed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Ladner
A sad part of the story is that, a few years later, Calligraphy was killed by the faculty. … I still bring this up every year before pledging my contribution to the alumni fund, much to the puzzlement, I'm sure, of the undergraduates making the phone calls!
I also tilt at windmills. Why not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Ladner
My point is that this course didn't just started some major artists on their careers in type design; it provided the armature on which an unglamorous liberal arts student could could assemble everything from Phoenicia to Silicon Valley.
Amen!

Very nice to hear from you on all this. I don’t think I remembered that you went to Reed. (I was in the class of 63, so you kids are, well, kids! <g>)

   
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Old 05-15-2005, 05:02 PM   #7
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"(I was in the class of 63, so you kids are, well, kids! <g>)"

Yeah, but the percentage difference between '63 and '72 gets smaller every year!

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Old 05-15-2005, 05:55 PM   #8
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Oh dear. Two typos in one messageQ

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Old 05-16-2005, 05:00 AM   #9
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Oh dear. Two typos in one messageQ
:-)

   
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