Constant Surprises: The Calligraphy of George Salter
with Paul Shaw
Tue., Feb. 21
6:30PM – 8:30PM
location: Rose Auditorium
George Salter (1897–1967) was arguably the leading American book jacket designer from the time he arrived in the United States in 1934, following a forced emigration from Nazi Germany, until his death in 1967. He had already been one of the most influential jacket designers in Weimar Germany, a period rich in innovative book covers. For all of their inventiveness and variety, Salter's German jackets lacked a defining aesthetic. Some are expressionistic, some are classical; some are illustrated while others are photographic; and others rely solely on type, hand lettering or calligraphy. In contrast, Salter's American jackets—especially after 1940—relied on a combination of illustration and calligraphy. His calligraphy, in service to the emotional aspects of a book, was idiosyncratic and unpredictable. This talk will look at the role that calligraphy played in Salter's jacket designs and trace its evolution from the 1930s to the 1960s.
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Paul Shaw is a letter designer and graphic design historian. He is the sole proprietor of Paul Shaw / Letter Design, a studio specializing for thirty years in calligraphy, lettering and typography. Among his clients have been Clairol, Origins, Lord & Taylor, Campbell’s Soup, Cinzano, Vignelli Associates, and Pentagram. Paul was formerly a partner in LetterPerfect, a digital type foundry based in Seattle. Since 1980 he has taught calligraphy, lettering, typography and graphic design history at a variety of New York area design schools. Currently he is at both Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts. He writes on letter-related subjects for Print, Eye, Baseline, Letter Arts Review, and AIGA's Voice. His book Helvetica and the New York City Subway sold out in two months, with a trade edition planned to be published by MIT Press. In 2002 Paul was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Finally, Paul is the reigning authority on W.A. Dwiggins, having spent 30 years researching his life and work.