Typeface design education from Cooper Union
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Mad, Bad (but Good to Know): A Survey of Type Specimens Offline and Online.
with Paul Shaw

Type specimens are an important resource for both the study of the history of type and the study of type design. Prior to the 21st century they were not widely accessible as with a few exceptions, they were widely scattered among various public, private and university libraries, printing museums, and individual collections. Many specimens exist in only a few copies, even many that were printed in editions consisting of tens of thousands of copies. Multiple copies of specimens often differ in collation and many are incomplete or mutilated. Despite the spate of type specimen facsimiles published in the 1960s and 1970s, the study of type specimens was difficult.

All of this has changed dramatically in the digital era as not only have specimens been digitized, but a rapidly increasing number have been posted online. The great majority of these are freely accessible and many are also downloadable. Thus, type designers, type historians, and other researchers can now easily examine specimens in far away locations; compare multiple copies; and trace type designs from foundry to foundry and country to country.

This talk will outline the different kinds of type specimens that have emerged over five centuries, summarize their features and contents, and then survey the type specimens that have been digitized and uploaded to the Internet. The survey will include assessments of the quality and utility of the various digitizing efforts and display approaches.

Registration is now closed

When:
Mon, February 13, 2023

Where: Rose Auditorium
41 Cooper Square, Manhattan


The Herb Lubalin Lectures are recorded and made available here and on Vimeo with the generous support of TypeCulture.


About Paul Shaw

Paul shaw
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.