Fasten your seat belt and strap on your mind reading helmet, Alphabettes reports to you from the future with a collection of potentially visionary, occasionally dystopian, and totally unfounded predictions for the type industry, and greater humanity, in the 22nd century.
We are Alja Herlah and Krista Likar, enthusiastic and passionate type designers from Slovenia. As members of the TipoBrda society, we got the opportunity to organize a type design workshop. Type Days 2017 – a one week long workshop – was already the 31th type design workshop organized by Tipo Brda in Slovenia. It took place in Ljubljana in the House of Reading and Writing, Vodnikova domačija Šiška. This year, we invited a guest mentor Adam Katyi, Hungarumlaut, who shared a lot of valuable tips and guidelines he learned while studying at the Type and Media program in The Hague.
In the context of writing a master dissertation about Japanese culture at the Inalco (Paris), I dived into the history of Japanese typography, focusing on the figure of Motogi Shōzō. As there are only few sources in English about the development of Japanese typography, I want to share here some of the elements I discovered. (This article was first published on the blog of Émilie’s type foundry, www.aisforapple.fr)
In Europe, we learn at school that printing has been invented by Gutenberg, in Germany, in 1460. Johannes Gutenberg, thanks to his strong will and by dint of mysterious research, is believed to have invented from scratch the way of making books on a large scale, and to be at the origin of the democratization of knowledge in Europe. Whereas the city of Mainz keeps the printing technique a secret, it is ransacked in 1462 and printers spread out all over Europe. This is how other printing centers are created, starting with Rome (1465), Venice (1468) and Paris (about 1470). 1
When we say “printing”, it is a shortcut that means in reality “typographic printing”, that is to say printing pages of text using metal letters. This technique is divided in different successive steps : engraving one sample of each letter in metal, reproducing identically these samples dozens of time, setting text using these signs made of metal, et then finally printing the typographic composition on paper.
In 1460 in Germany, the technique of engraving metal was already in use for the making of medals, and the printing press was well known : images were engraved in wood and printed using a press. Gutenberg, pictured in history textbooks as a brilliant inventor, based his invention on existing techniques. His creation has been to bring these techniques together and to finalize the production of metal letters thanks to a specific mould. Furthermore, he did not work alone, but had business partners. 2
In the same way that we turned Gutenberg into a symbol, Japan considers that the “father of Japanese typography” is Motogi Shōzō (本木昌造, 1824-1875). Magata Shigeri 3 paid tribute to this man in a short biography in English, published 18 years after Motogi’s death : “After years of toil and experiment, [Motogi] invented types for Japanese characters and for the first time made printing a business. We owe, indeed, to him alone the success and prosperity of Japanese typography in modern times. He is therefore most deserving of our esteem, as the Father of Japanese Typography.” 4
This idea then spread out.
In honor of International Women’s Day, and in solidarity with this year’s International Women’s Strike, we’re going we went a day without Alphabettes. Don’t worry, we’ll be back again tomorrow we’re back 😘✊.
I learned about the term ‘cold type’ quite late into my fascination with phototypesetting. And when I did it was straight from its biggest critic, Frank Romano, author of a book with the title
The term had been popular in English (only) in the 1960s and ’70s amid the changes from the then prevailing mechanical ‘hot’ metal typesetting, like Linotype or Monotype, that involved live typecasting, to ‘cold’ photographic systems and computer-based typesetting. But my qualms are more about what cold refers to in relation to hot here.
In the common sense it means typesetting without the casting of metal. Now that all composition and design is done with cool digital tools, we hardly ever have to differentiate between this anymore. What I would love to make clearer though and distinguish between is the difference between foundry type and hot metal typesetting. Especially non-native English speakers tend to throw all metal type into the hot metal melting pot, but nein:
– Foundry type is traditional metal type of individual sorts (letters) for hand composition, once cast by a type foundry but usually used cold, then taken apart again and reused.
– Hot metal type refers to typesetting machines that involve a casting unit that compose and cast individual sorts or a line of type on the fly, e. g. Linotype, Intertype, Monotype or Ludlow systems; hot to luke warm when handled right after casting and molten down again after use.
It gets real balmy though now that most metal type used in letterpress print shops these days is actually cold ex-hot-metal Monotype for hand composition.
So maybe we should not use the thermal terms at all and be more specific in what we mean. Or at least only use hot metal for the mechanical typesetting systems. Or only when we’re referring to genuine hot typesetters.* Continue reading →
In an attempt to distract myself from stress-watching CNN or eating an entire bag of cough drops (they’re candy-ish), I’m spending this Valentine’s Day on the hunt for typefaces with interesting ♥ or ♡. Here’s what I’ve found so far (with a little help from some friends):