Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh, Wondrous Type

Book Art royalty came to Iowa City last week. Matthew Carter, legendary type designer, gave a lecture at the University of Iowa. Carter is known for creating many well-known type faces we use and read daily. One of his largest clients is the New York Times- he does the iconic black letter for the newspaper masthead.

Listening to his lecture made me think of art school, when I pondered the very being of a letter; its shape, flavor, history. I cut my graphic design teeth on Carter's beautiful letters. Snell Roundhand is still a favorite:
Carter, his silver pony-tail adding a visual serif to his elegant personage, talked about homage to ancient type. He is known for taking very old faces- think Roman times, and the early printing alphabets- and making them modern. A flat top to a “t” here, a higher x-height there. Names like Bodoni, Fruitiger, Caslon are to many of us just names of fonts, but they were all real people, designers of type, whose work lives on through Carter. Carter says he is informed by history. He likes to “marinate” himself in these studies. And it’s not about copying. “Accuracy is not the truth”, Carter says, quoting Henri Matisse. He makes type faces for the 21st Century eye to play upon and enjoy.

Born in the U.K., Carter lays a rose at Caslon’s 17th century tombstone whenever he visits London. Now that is paying respect to a vocational ancestor.

To read more about Carter's interesting take on Kindles and other reading devises, visit this profile in the Iowa Review:

1 comment:

Candace Trew Camling said...

ooooh! I am jealous I missed this! Next type someone legendary comes tell me! Its worth the few hours drive!

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