Typeface design education from Cooper Union

Tales from the Kelly Collection Catalog, or Typographic Research as Tool Builder
with David Shields

Rob Roy Kelly’s published research — including American Wood Type 1828–1900 (1969) — helped fuel a revival of interest in nineteenth-century American printing types. His work continues to be an important starting point for current scholarly inquiry. The University of Texas Press published a monograph I researched, wrote, and designed The Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection: A History and Catalog which functions as a ‘close’ reading of the collection.

I’ve approached the collection as more than simply the 18,000+ pieces of wood type acquired by Kelly and dynamically defined it in broader terms as a range of objects, publications, research papers, and attendant activities in a number of archives around the United States. Viewing the collection broadly has provided the opportunity to look past Kelly as the sole instigator and investigator and perceive him as a link in the broader network of relationships that led to the success of his research project. The physical presence of the published book has helped me reconsider my own research work for the manuscript, not simply as a mode of historicization, but as developing a set of tools that could be useful to other (typographic) research projects.

Registration is now closed

Mon, November 7, 2022

Where: Online

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

About David Shields

Shields portrait hirez
David Shields is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. David is currently focusing his research on 19th century typographic form and visual culture arising from investigations of Rob Roy Kelly’s American Wood Type Collection. He keeps a slow blog of his research at Wood Type Research. His writing has been published in Slanted Magazine, Printing History, Design Inquiry Journal, and Ultrabold the Journal of the St Bride Library. David’s work has been published in Rethinking Design, AIGA Fifty Books of the Year, Behind the Seen: Studio Dumbar, and has appeared in periodicals including Eye, Emigre, and Print Magazine. His work is also included in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Museum of Modern Art. Previously David was an Associate Professor of Design at The University of Texas at Austin where he served as the Head of the Design Program and as the Design Custodian for the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection. Before joining the UT Faculty in 2004, David lived in Brooklyn, NY, and taught at a number of institutions in the New York region including Rutgers, SVA, Pratt and University of the Arts. He continues to practice as a designer at the studio he co-founded with Jennifer Elsner in Brooklyn in 2000, Viewers Like You, a full-service design studio that provides creative consultancy for graphic and editorial communications and specializes in branding, strategy and positioning of both start-ups and established companies. Shields holds a BFA from Memphis State University and a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.