‘Grand Cru Classés’ sprouting from Antwerp soil

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  • A week ago Fernando Mello collected the ‘Original Typeface’ Gold trophy for FS Brabo at the 2016 ED-Awards’ ceremony in Vienna!


  • On Wednesday 16 November the Expert class Type design 2016–2017 course will start. The EcTd course comprises ten sessions at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp during a period of roughly eight months. In between the sessions the students are expected to work hard and dedicatedly on the teamwise revival project and the new personal type design. Subscription is possible until one week before the start of the course.

    In the course my research and resulting PhD dissertation on Renaissance type patterning, which I successfully defended at Leiden University on Tuesday 11 October 2016, play a major role. Because there is direct access to the Renaissance artefacts in the collection of the Museum Plantin-Moretus, this patterning can be easily tested and applied on (revivals of) historical type.

    See you in Antwerp!
  • I enjoyed a lot being a student at the Plantin Instituut's EcTd. It's the ideal place to learn about French and Flemish typographic cannons and a very inspiring setting. 
  • Yesterday evening the Inside/Outside 2016 exhibition of the Plantin Institute of Typography opened at Kades-Kaden in Antwerp. Kades-Kaden is the exhibition hall of the renowned design agency Catapult, where also the exhibition series Type An Sich takes place. This is the fifth consecutive EcTd exhibition and the third one that is combined with the expo of the Expert class Book design (EcBd) course.

    The Inside/Outside 2016 exhibition comprises the further developed type designs by the EcTd students who successfully finished the 2014–2015 course and a preview of the ongoing projects of the 2015–2016 laureates. The latter show their new, personal type-design projects besides the joined revival project, which is based on the Renaissance artefacts from the punchcutter Joos Lambrecht. These artefacts can be found in the wonderful collection of the Museum Plantin-Moretus and, as you all know, the course takes place at this fantastic museum!

    As in previous years, Agfa kindly sponsored the printing of the beautiful panels.












  • An updated EcTd course description is now available as PDF.


  • AbrahamLeeAbrahamLee Posts: 102
    Now, this is a class I wish I could attend. This is right up my alley of interest.
  • Yesterday the seven EcTd students gave nice and interesting presentations on the process and progress of their personal projects. From Guyot to Tavernier, from Van den Keere to Dwiggins, and from civilité to nifty color fonts capturing the French-Renaissance patterning. Below you will find a small selection of photos taken at the cozy auditorium of the Museum Plantin-Moretus, where the EcTd sessions take place.








  • Although some TD-forum members have the opinion that being self-taught forms the best basis for a profession as type designer, there seems to be a growing group of enthusiasts who want to take advantage of the knowledge, skills, and insights of professional type designers at renowned institutes. As lecturer I am extremely proud to see Ramiro Espinoza’s nicely-cadensed Guyot Headline, of which the development started at the Expert class Type design of the Plantin Institute of Typography. As colleague I admire the result.
  • Did you mean to link to Hrant's post? While I am self-taught myself, I don't think it's better than a proper education (though I do believe it has some advantages along with the disadvantages).

    Guyot Headline looks fantastic!
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 730
    edited July 1
    Since I've been invoked :-) I should clarify:
    I don't believe being self-taught is the best basis for everybody; in the eternal words of Humpty Hump: "No two people will do it the same." However I do feel formal education can potentially stunt the proper development of one's original voice, detracting from overall cultural progress; this is especially true in an educational environment that doesn't harbor fruitful self-doubt... and self-doubt is not how formal education tends to be sold. For individual[ist]s whose priority is making a living at the thing, this is admittedly secondary.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 649
    However I do feel formal education can potentially stunt the proper development of one's original voice...
    Sorry if this is off topic a bit but I've experienced this and seen it happen to others in classical animation college. We got the Disney severely beaten into us. In my previous work, I could see a style developing and after graduation it was essentially erased. I've never been able to recapture it and to this day, my lines still have a sickly Bluth/Disney thing going on.

  • However I do feel formal education can potentially stunt the proper development of one's original voice […]
    In my previous work, I could see a style developing and after graduation it was essentially erased.
    Education as such should not be blamed if some tutors apply a sort of one-sided conditioning or perhaps even try to indoctrinate students. Of course, it is flattering for an educator if students embrace his/her ideas, but the primary task of education is to provide a solid foundation for further development and for enhanced reflection. For type design this means that education should result in technical skills combined with knowledge of the historical developments in the profession (including the changing esthetic preferences during the different style periods) together with insight in (the influence of) technology.

    By marking the historical and technological boundaries of the type designer’s profession and by stimulating a critical and analytical way of thinking, students should be able to find their own place in the profession and to develop their unique personal ‘hand’. Although craftsmanship formed and still forms the basis for the type designers’ metier and conventions define its boundaries, educators should always be careful that their training does not suppress the natural desire of designers to trespass IMHO.
  • Robin MientjesRobin Mientjes Posts: 101
    For what it’s worth, Frank was formally my teacher in calligraphy at the KABK, and he’ll be the first to acknowledge that he isn’t to blame for whatever I’ve come to design ;)

    And that’s also a serious note. Dogmatic teaching can be very limiting, but in Frank’s class I never felt that the lessons were dogmatic. Frank is strict and has clear boundaries of good and bad – it can be tough to live up to those standards but they were nothing if not explicit. What I learned in proportion and rhythm took a few years to settle in, but I don’t think I ended up drawing ‘with the master’s hand’. Again, I’m sure all my old teachers will run far far away from that statement.
  • Following the Annual Academic Meeting of the Plantin Institute of Typography at the Museum Plantin-Moretus Antwerp on Saturday 30 September 2017, the opening of the exhibition In de sporen van Plantin (‘In the footsteps of Plantin’) will take place. At this expo the 2017 laureates of the courses Expert class Book design (EcBd) and Expert class Type design (EcTd) present their projects. In case of the EcTd this is supplemented with a selection of work from two 2016 laureates, which has been made after the student’s graduation and that is based on the projects started during the course’s last year.



    An important aspect of the EcTd course is the direct exchange of knowledge and experience between the students. This exchange is stimulated by a type-revival project, on which the students have to work together. The revival is always based on unique historical material from the renowned collection of the Museum Plantin-Moretus. This year the students selected the Gros Canon Romain attributed to Claude Garamont (ca.1510–1561) and cut before 1549, and its adaptation commissioned by Plantin named Moyen Canon Romain from 1570. For the latter Hendrik van den Keere (ca.1540–1580) shortened the ascenders and descenders: this way the type could be cast in a mould for a shorter body size. The image (from my dissertation) below shows historical foundry type of the Moyen Canon Romain (cast with fixed registers of the mould) on top and the Gros Canon Romain as cast in 1959 (without fixed widths).



    I enjoyed this year’s choice especially because the Gros and Moyen Canon Romain played an important role in my research into Renaissance type-production standardization, as one can read in my dissertation (for the record: I did not influence the student’s choice in any way). The variable lengths of the ascenders and descenders make the Gros/Moyen combination a variable font avant la lettre. Whether the Moyen Canon Romain can be seen as a precursor of the ‘Goût Hollandais’ is open for discussion (as we did during the course). After all, the Dutch type from the Baroque combined an enlargement of the x-height with an additional condensing of the letter forms, which is in line with the space-hierarchy rules (less space within the letters makes less space between words and lines possible). It will not come as a surprise that the students made a variable font for the GrosMoyen, as they baptized their digital revival. This font also contains an axis for the ink squashes.



    Besides taking part in the revival project, each student has to design a new typeface personally, whether completely from scratch or being a revival that is, for example, also based on material from the museum’s collection (this is not mandatory). At the exhibition a variety of projects can be seen, which includes a revival based on historical material from the punchcutter Ameet Tavernier (1522–1570), experiments with a color font on the basis of the Gros Parangon cut by François Guyot (†1570) around 1544, a revival based on William Addison Dwiggins’ Tippecanoe type from 1942, and everything in between.



    I would like to emphasize here that the exhibition would not be possible without the very generous sponsoring by Agfa Graphics. This is already the sixth time that Agfa Graphics provides high-quality prints on Forex A0 panels, together with the nice cardboard-based installations for the Expert class Book design presentations!

    In de sporen van Plantin runs in the Museum Plantin-Moretus from 1 October till 26 November 2017.


  • A very nice aspect of the Expert class Type design course is that the lessons take place in the Museum Plantin-Moretus. Because of this, students have direct access to the museum’s huge and amazing collection of punches, matrices, foundry type, and prints. Also this year a lot of historical material was meticulously investigated: not only for the aforementioned GrosMoyen revival, but also for a number of personal projects. The photo above was taken in the new reading room of the Museum Plantin-Moretus.



    This image shows on the right page Garamont’s Gros Canon Romain in the type specimen Index sive specimen characterum Christophori Plantini from 1567. On the left the revival made by the EcTd 2016–2017 students, which is here for comparison automatically spaced using the LS Cadencer application, is presented. Obviously the long s, fi ligature, and diacritics were missing still when the test was made. As you probably know, the LS Cadencer was developed by Lukas Schneider during the 2014–2015 course and it is interesting to see how the tool is used by the new students.


  • Benjamin Sporken (one of the seven EcTd 2016–2017 laureates), Erik Michiels (chairman of the Plantin Institute of Typography), Jan Van der Linden (secretary of the institute), and yours truly mounted the exhibition panels of all laureates on the walls of the Museum Plantin-Moretus yesterday.



    The students worked hard, intensively and thoroughly, and I am very proud of the exhibited results! Today the lighting spots will be positioned correctly in the corridor and the adjacent room, where also the panels for the Expert class Book design will be placed.



    As aforementioned, tomorrow the opening of the exhibition In de sporen van Plantin (‘In the footsteps of Plantin’) will take place, following on the Annual Academic Meeting of the Plantin Institute of Typography at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp. The expo runs from 1 October till 26 November 2017.


  • Under the approving eyes of Christoffel Plantin and his relatives, painted by Rubens and his peers, the Annual Academic Meeting of the Plantin Institute of Typography took place in the wonderful Museum Plantin-Moretus last Saturday. The internationally renowned and awarded Dutch typographer Irma Boom was the special speaker on the occasion.



    Seven Expert class Type design laureates received their diplomas: Diederik Corvers, Paula Mastrangelo, Britt Möricke, Benjamin Sporken, Daphne de Vries, Mark van Wageningen, and Channa Wijmans. We will see and hear more about them and their work in the near future, I reckon. After the ceremony the reception started in the room in which the students exhibit their projects.



    At the reception I gave a short talk in which I emphasized the enthusiasm and dedication of this year’s students, and the quality of the presented work. At the EcTd course in Antwerp research plays a very important role besides, of course, craftsmanship and technical insight. The course is far from easy and quite time consuming, but the students handled the tasks perfectly.



    BTW, the 2017–2018 course starts in November. In case you are interested, do not hesitate to contact me.

    (photographs by Daphne de Vries and Paul Adriaensen)
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