Reviving Type

A book on the calibration of mind and eye, to be presented at ATypI 2019 Tokyo: https://www.voordekunst.nl/projecten/8890-reviving-type-1

Comments

  • That looks a very useful project. Are them your students?
  • I will be happy to support this work, but the PayPal link is not working. Frank, please let the project planners know they need to fix this!
  • Hi Claudio, yes, Céline and Nóra were KABK LetterStudio students of mine, who did for a couple of semesters research in the context of the ‘Revival of a historic Renaissance typeface’ module.

    Hi Scott, thanks for your interest and for letting me know that the PayPal link is not working. I informed Nóra and Céline in the meantime and hopefully it will be fixed soon.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,549
    I'm with Unger.
  • Hi Claudio, yes, Céline and Nóra were KABK LetterStudio students of mine, who did for a couple of semesters research in the context of the ‘Revival of a historic Renaissance typeface’ module.
    Thanks, it looks really interesting. But from the description it seems focused on specific period (older) types. Are they approaching the presentation focusing on specific typefaces they were working on?
    I ask because the topic in general is always very relevant, but clearly reviving an early inkunabula or renaissance typeface is a task with different evaluations involved than – say – reviving a 19th century face.
  • Hi Hrant, it is a fact that Gerard was not really a fan of revivals, as was, for example, Van Krimpen. However, even if one is for this reason not interested in Céline’s and Nóra’s final interpretations of the models from Garamont, Granjon, and Kis in question, one perhaps could be interested in the process that led to the revivals still, I reckon. As I wrote in the foreword:

    ‘By marking the historical and technological boundaries of the punchcutters’ profession and practice, and by stimulating a critical and analytical way of thinking, graphic-design students should be able to acquire a deeper insight in the historical development of the typographic métier. Research, whether scientfically based and/or empirically oriented, will generate additional knowledge on the fundamentals of typography and will undoubtedly teach us more than we would learn through merely optically reproducing the historical letter forms.
            In this book Nóra and Céline describe and discuss their empirical type-revival processes. Their research can be considered as a sophisticated attempt to calibrate mind and eye. The result provides in-depth insight in their revival processes, forming a guide for further research into the fundamentals of historical type, and it functions as a cookbook for those who want to transfer their findings into a digital type revival. Above all, this book is a wonderful example of the high level of study possible at bachelor level graphic-design courses, such as at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague.’
  • Not sure I understand what you were talking about as far as Unger goes… :-(
  • As mentioned, Gerard was not very fond of revivals. However, he intensively researched historical material for a couple of his typefaces, including, for example, DTL Paradox. In the introduction of the DTL Paradox type specimen from 2002 I referred to this and mentioned that Gerard filtered details from illustrious precursors to mix with his strong, and contemporary idiom.
  • As mentioned, Gerard was not very fond of revivals. However, he intensively researched historical material for a couple of his typefaces, including, for example, DTL Paradox. In the introduction of the DTL Paradox type specimen from 2002 I referred to this and mentioned that Gerard filtered details from illustrious precursors to mix with his strong, and contemporary idiom.
    I’d love to back up Céline’s and Nóra’s project, but just wished to understand better. Have you seen my question above? (But I guess in part you kinda replied in your reply to Hrant).

    As for Unger’s approach: while I admire him a lot, and he surely left a great legacy, when I first saw Capitolium I told myself: what? Two thousand years of christianity, history and culture where it incarnated, are supposed be distilled in such an impersonal typeface for signage? It was a very refined, but such an "impersonal" and cold typeface to me… I have the firm convinction that you do not need to be "aseptic" to reinterpret/interpret something for a new context.
    http://www.gerardunger.com/fontstore/store-capitolium-news.html

    Alverata is wonderful, anyway. But for the 2000 Jubilaeum, well, when I saw Capitolium I said «why?». But again, Gerard was Dutch, the aesthetic is closely tied to our cultural roots.
  • Paradox: so “quintessentially Unger”! :-)
    Very nice, but I’d have a hard time using it… Again, a cultural matter?
    I don‘t know, because I’d use Quadraat everywhere, and Smejiers is Dutch as well.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,549
    edited June 15
    Claudio Piccinini said:
    Capitolium .... was a very refined, but such an "impersonal" and cold typeface to me…
    Maybe that's why they never actually deployed it? (But that's just guesswork.)
  • Maybe that's why they never actually deployed it? (But that's just guesswork.)
    I don’t know, but now you that you make me think about it, I believe I read something about it. And maybe I can discover more about this. Hm…
  • The success of, and the opinion about, Gerard Unger’s types and idiom deserve a dedicated topic on TypeDrawers, I reckon. I consider Gerard’s view on revivals in the context of Reviving Types only relevant for the clear positioning of the book’s content.
    […] clearly reviving an early inkunabula or renaissance typeface is a task with different evaluations involved than […]
    That could be well possible. Reviving Types is a combination of, and a comparison between, two different case studies that started independently from each other: Céline’s investigation of French Renaissance type and Nóra’s research into Baroque type. When both studies were completed at the LetterStudio, I asked Céline and Nóra to compare the processes and outcomes of both studies, especially to outline similarities and possible differences in approaching and reviving French Renaissance and Baroque type.

    Undoubtedly these two case studies will cover aspects of reviving historical type outside the two style periods and the specific models in question. Inevitably, however, there will be uncovered aspects too.
  • […] clearly reviving an early inkunabula or renaissance typeface is a task with different evaluations involved than […]
    Undoubtedly these two case studies will cover aspects of reviving historical type outside the two style periods and the specific models in question. Inevitably, however, there will be uncovered aspects too.
    Definitely worth backing then, I’ll manage to do so. :-)

    Agreed on Unger, we were going off-topic.
  • I am pleased to report that the sign-up and PayPal link is working! 
  • Done. I hope they reach their goal. :)
  • Adam KingAdam King Posts: 9
    Just bumping this up ... in case someone wants to donate that hasn't. I'm, hopefully, going to take them over the top.
  • A very nice video registration of an excellent book presentation at ATypI Tokyo last week:


  • A concise article about Reviving Type was posted yesterday on It’s Nice That.
  • Last Friday afternoon the official book launch of Reviving Type took place at Museum Meermanno in The Hague. Tânia Raposo and yours truly were invited as guest speakers, and Céline Hurka and Nóra Békés gave a concise presentation related to their talk at the ATypI Tokyo conference last month
    In my talk I elaborated a bit on the ‘calibration of mind and eye’. In the foreword of Reviving Type I compare conditioning with calibration: ‘Conditioning is the process of bringing someone into a desired state of mind to receive and understand a message in a pre-cooked way. In education this implies that students learn to look and think as their teachers do. This way conditioning preserves conventions and, conversely, conventions preserve conditioning. Alternatively, calibration is the process of configuring someone to provide a result within an acceptable range. In education this implies that students are not taught how to look and think specifically, but are taught instead how to approach the investigation and research of matters to make up their own minds.’
    Last Friday I especially focused on perception, insight, knowledge, and mindset. To illustrate these topics I mentioned, respectively, the 19th-century reconstruction of the Elasmosaurus by the paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope and the Vermeer forgeries by Han van Meegeren, the restoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the continental-drift theory by Alfred Wegener, and, concluding, what we can learn from these cases.
            In short: while reconstructing the skeleton of the Elasmosaurus, Cope erroneously placed the skull on the dinosaur’s tale (ignoring clear indications that he was wrong), Van Meegeren forged what experts wanted to see (paintings by the ‘young Vermeer’ in Carravagio’s style), during the Sistine Chapel’s restoration a darkening layer, which could belong to Michelangelo and which clearly enhanced the 3D-effect, was irreparably removed, and our mindset is very much formed by the way we are conditioned. Especially the ‘Wegener-continental-drift’ case should always remind us to be open-minded, even if we do not like new information because, for example, it conflicts with what we have embraced so far as being true.
    After all, Wegener was ridiculed by established scientists for considering Pangaea as, for example, an explanation for the spread of related dinosaur fossils across continents. Colleagues even warned him that his heretical ideas would befog the minds of students. Wegener’s radical viewpoint clearly threatened the authority of fellow scientists, and they just could not, or did not, want to believe that the foundation of their points of view was incorrect. The argumentation against Wegener’s model was sometimes hilarious; for example, the geologist R. Thomas Chamberlain remarked: ‘If we are to believe in Wegener’s hypothesis we must forget everything which has been learned in the past 70 years and start all over again.’ The alternative explanation of the experts for the spread of dinosaur fossils was a possible temporary landbridge.
    Anyway, undoubtedly some of you have funded the production of Reviving Type, and have by now received the book, I reckon. Some of you are also type-design teachers and I very much hope that Reviving Type is placed on your students’ reading lists. I truly believe that the book is very useful in education: it does not dictate how to approach the reviving-type matter, but it contains an honest account with investigations, questions, successes, failures, and, consequently, newly raised questions.
            Reviving Type provides students with a toolbox to calibrate their minds and eyes, explaining them how one can approach the investigation and research of type and typography related matters, with as goal to let them make up their *own* minds. After all, it is a book by students for students, which is archetypal on this subject, and which forms a perfect starting point for further discussion and investigation.
    I want to conclude here with stating that I admire the achievements of Nóra and Céline a lot. They made the revivals, wrote the texts, designed the book, organized the crowdfunding, published the book, and now distribute the book. I consider this quite amazing.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,656
    I read my copy of Reviving Type this week. It’s interesting to see how two students use different methodologies for the same project; designer educators might like that. Students in type design programs that start off with a revival project would do well to read this book before beginning.
  • I finished reading it a few days ago, and as one who is in the middle doing a revival (my first) as well I attest to its helpfulness. Aside from seeing differences and similarities among our approaches, I found new insight in the discussions of historical practice and errors that I hadn’t considered and have since helped me adjust how I look at my own specimens.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,641
    If anybody wants to get this book in Portland (or Seattle if you're willing to wait until the Christmas holidays) and save some money on shipping by teaming up, let me know.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,444
    Interesting. This is such a rich field, practically and philosophically.

    I’ve steered clear of doing revivals, although I have done a couple of restorations (Scotch Modern and Dair/Cartier), in which I produced fonts that can make close facsimiles of the printed book sources from which they were derived. I wouldn’t say that this was “merely optically reproducing the historical letter forms”, it’s really difficult, if not impossible, given the gulf between ancient and modern technologies, and quite educational! 

    For the Scotch, I vector-drew directly in FontLab, by eye, using a loupe, then compared a facsimile setting, made using my prototype glyphs, with the original, and went about refining the shapes to get closer to the original, in a series of feedback loops. Loop de loupe. Drawn from life, not scans—using the hand to “calibrate between mind and eye”, according to Frank’s analogy.

    For Dair, I traced over scans, manually. But no autotracing, that’s never felt right—a weak calibration, so to speak, tweaking an algorithmic interpretation of a scan: two veils between artist and object, not one’s own direct vision. 
    I published two versions of this restoration, one a facsimile-maker—metrically crude, with no kerning and conforming to the original’s reductive unitization of character widths—and the other with mostly the same glyphs, but smoothly fitted and with today’s OpenType features and extended language support.

    For my Jenson derivation Goodchild, I tried to stay close to the original in terms of letter shape and fitting, but gave it a crisp (not distressed/patina’d) finish, and a much larger x-height than the original.

    My Worldwide and Brown aren’t really revivals, as I didn’t work from any particular model, and the styles are so generic—a “Century” and a “grot”.




  • As you know, the crowdfunding for Reviving Type was a huge success –thanks in part to you. Nóra and Céline have done a fantastic job, organizing and controling every aspect of the book’s production: from writing to designing and from printing to publishing.
    Revivng Type
    As mentioned, I sincerely hope that colleagues from all over the world will place Reviving Type on student reading lists. I really believe that the book is very useful in education: it does not dictate how to approach the matter, but it contains an honest report with investigations, questions, successes, failures, and –consequently and inevitably– newly generated questions.
    The first, positive, reviews have now been posted on the web:
            People of Print
            Frizzifrizzi
            It’s Nice That
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,657
    edited October 24
    Nick wrote:
    For my Jenson derivation Goodchild...
    I think Deriving Type would be an excellent companion volume to Nóra and Céline's book.

  • I think Deriving Type would be an excellent companion volume to Nóra and Céline's book.
    That is a nice idea indeed. However, one may wonder how much in essence such a book would differ from Reviving Type. After all, a type revival is by definition an interpretation, which will show as much of the style period in which the original foundry type was made, as of the time (Zeitgeist) in which the revival was produced. Céline and Nóra describe how they interpret the historical sources, and what exactly the basis forms for the decisions they made. In a book on derivatives especially the deviation from the original models will differ, i.e., will undoubtedly be bigger, but to illuminate to what extent this is the case, the explanatory basis for the perception and interpretation of the original models will be basically comparable, I reckon.
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