A number of Matthew Carter’s designs have been based on historical types, ITC Galliard, Big Caslon, Miller, Vincent and the Yale typeface among them. Others, like Snell Roundhand and Mantinia, were derived from non-typographic sources from the past such as handwriting manuals and lettering in the work of painters. In this lecture he explains his debt to the historical legacy, and describes cases where historically-based designs have been adapted to the needs of contemporary clients. His type revivals have varied in faithfulness to their models, which raises questions about the responsibilities of the continuator of traditional forms, about degrees of interpretation, adaptation to current technology, ancestor worship and travesty.
About Matthew Carter
Matthew Carter is a type designer with fifty years’ experience of typographic technologies ranging from hand-cut punches to computer fonts. After a long association with the Linotype companies he was a co-founder in 1981 of Bitstream Inc., the digital typefoundry, where he worked for ten years. He is now a principal of Carter & Cone Type Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, designers and producers of original typefaces. His type designs include ITC Galliard, Snell Roundhand, Shelley Script, Helvetica Compressed, Olympian (for newspaper text), Bell Centennial (for the US telephone directories), ITC Charter, and faces for Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic and Devanagari. For Carter & Cone he has designed Mantinia, Sophia, Elephant, Big Caslon, Alisal and Miller. Starting in the mid-’90s Carter has worked with Microsoft on a series of “screen fonts” designed to maximize the legibility of type on computer monitors. Of these, Verdana, Tahoma and Nina (a condensed face for hand-held devices) are sanserif types; Georgia is a seriffed design.