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rudolf koch hermann zapf

2 âœŚ Masters of the Hand

Few people in this world leave behind a legacy, and even fewer live enough to see it unfold before their eyes.

3 âœŚ Masters of the Hand

â?§ Hermann Zapf (left) and Rudolf Koch (right)

e long These legacies represent an

Through careers that have

otherwise lifeless creations and

archetype of unsurmountable

spanned almost a century’s

letterforms into vivid entities

achievement, a paragon the

worth of dedicated work and

with meaning and integrity.

aspiring individual hopes to

innovation, they have pushed

Despite their sharp contrasts

follow in some way, before

the fold in almost every way

in their methodology, style

carving out their own respec-

imaginable, earning them their

and visual aesthetic, as well

tive path as a quintessential

deserved statuses as leading

as being from different time

figure in society. German

calligraphers and typogra-

periods, Koch and Zapf work

typographers Rudolf Koch

phers in the realm of design.

together in a harmonious co-

and Hermann Zapf are two of

To them, typographic design

existence that has set the fun-

those archetypes. Their strong

was more than just a line of

damentals and standards of a

and unique aesthetic are the

work, or a creative outlet, it

highly developed calligraphic

paradigm of elegance and

was a lifestyle, an embodiment style unmatched by any other

resolved, intricate structures

of themselves and a reflection

and continues to be widely

through technological exper-

of their character. For indeed,


tise and a creative vision only

they personalized their work

an elite selection of esteemed

and immersed themselves

individuals could ever attain.

within it, humanizing these

4 ✦ Masters of the Hand


first and foremost, a craftsman. He was born in Nuremburg, Germany ca. 1876 into a life of poverty and constant strife, both creatively and economically. After the untimely death of his father, a hard-working sculptor, he proceeded to gain a basic education from a grammar school and underwent an apprenticeship as a metal worker in Hanau. Many years passed before he would eventually evolve into the Rudolf Koch wurde in Nürnberg, Deutschland ca geboren. 1876 ​​in ein Leben in Armut und ständiger Streit, kreativ und wirtschaftlich. Nach dem frühen Tod seines Vaters, ein hart arbeitender Bildhauer, fuhr er fort, eine Grundausbildung von einem Gymnasium zu gewinnen und unterzog sich eine Lehre als Schlosser in Hanau. Viele Jahre vergingen, bevor er schließlich in den genialen Schöpfer er bekannt und bewundert wurde zu entwickeln würde. Es war während dieser Übergangszeit von Jahren an der Wende des Jahrhunderts, dass Koch das kreative ästhetische er so gewünscht entwickelt, inspiriert von Art Nouveau Stil Abbildungen und Deutschland die eigene Geschichte [überwiegend von Jugend, ein populärer deutscher Kunstzeitschrift inspiriert] sowie als seine frommen christlichen Glauben waren, die die Grundlage für die meisten seiner Kompositionen im Laufe seiner Karriere. Er begann Formulierung seiner eigenen konzeptionellen Ideen und entwickelt Methoden, wie er sie zu schaffen, aber für den Augenblick, waren alles, was er einfach, dass, Ideen und Ambitionen. Er war nicht annähernd so geschickt wie er in Zeichnen oder Malen gefallen haben, und es fehlte die formale Ausbildung notwendig, solche kühnen Ambitionen und Wünsche erstellen.

brilliant creator he was known and admired to be. It was during this transitional period of years at the turn of the century that Koch developed the creative aesthetic he so desired, taking inspiration from Art Nouveau style illustrations [predominantly by Jugend, a popular German art magazine] and Germany’s own history, as well as his devout Christian beliefs, which were the basis for the majority of his compositions throughout his career. He began formulating his own conceptual ideas and devised methods on how he would create them, but for the time being, all he had were simply that, ideas and ambitions. He wasn’t nearly as skilled as he would have liked in drawing or painting, and lacked the formal training necessary to create such bold ambitions and desires.


at al


sit per i




yea r

5 âœŚ Masters of the Hand

6 âœŚ Masters of the Hand

m Maximilian Schrift (1913) â?§ Maximilian is an example of Koch's skill with the pen. The characters combine a fluid, organic form with bold fraktur strokes, creating a soft pattern that brings it to life.

abcdefghijklm nopqrstuvw abcdefghijklmn opqrstuvwxyz

7 ✦ Masters of the Hand

Kompakt (1952)

abcdefghijkl mnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmn opqrstuvwxyz

lm vwxyz

Through a series of failed jobs and attempts at gaining recognition, he began devising illustrations indicative of the Baroque, classical style he favored so much, especially through the technique of punchcutting silhouetted figures and ornamental designs. Soon he discovered his keen ability to create beautiful calligraphy with a

broad-nibbed pen and quickly made developing this newfound skill his priority, much to the chagrin of his peers and relatives, who were discouraged by his current financial state and disapproved of his ambitious dreams. Koch’s dedication and perseverance never faltered, however, and through his elegant work, it would all soon pay off.

❧ Kompakt is a

heavy display face by Hermann Zapf. It makes a bold statement and demands attention from its audience with an authoritative tone.






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9 ✦ Masters of the Hand

❧ Hermann Zapf at his home in Darmstadt, Germany


ew have ever achieved the caliber of penmanship skill as Hermann Zapf.

He too was born in


✍ g

Nuremberg, Germany, ca.

gibberish to those who could

tually offered a job as a photo

1918 to what he referred to as

not (3. Linotype). This was only

retoucher at the Karl Ulrich &

‘turbulent days’. Like Koch, he

the mere beginning for what

Company Printing Firm in 1934,

was surrounded by poverty

would become a long cam-

since the company had no need

and strife, losing two of his

paign of type design for him.

for a lithographer.

plagued Europe. Despite his


✍ no

early years being marred by



into a keen, intelligent young . imman, intrigued by technologih or


technological developments, he sought to pursue a career

hscend beyond that and develop due to the rise of what would



e bb


Because of Zapf’s interest in

f tragedy, Zapf managed to tran- as an electrical engineer, but of



political model. He was even-

siblings to the Spanish flu that

n ei


he’d formulated and plain

become the Nazi regime, the

life. As a child, he developed bizarre runes that played off Germanic and Cyrillic style, comprehensible only to those able to crack the intricate code

four years, dutifully practicing his calligraphic style and techniques in his spare time, learning and studying from the likes of Rudolf Koch and

political circumstances pre-

especially Edward Johnston’s

he originally intended to do.

admire extensively, practic-

cal advances and by type, even vented Zapf from doing what at such premature stages in his

He remained there for the next

teachings, whom he came to

Disappointed but not without ing the achieved effects seen

hope, Zapf pursued an appren- in Johnston’s Writing and ticeship as a lithographer, but was still turned down, due to his opposition to the current

Illuminating and Lettering with fervent eager (4. Zapf, pg. 7).

10 ✦ Masters of the Hand

❧ Rudolf Koch and Karl Klingspor (left), and the Technische Lehranstalten, where Koch taught, as seen in 1910 (right).

In 1906, Koch began working as a type designer and letterer for the Klingspor type foundry in Offenbach, where he remained until his death in 1934. It was there he found his true calling and flourished, creating work that served as the backbone for his future groundbreaking designs.

Im Jahr 1906 begann Koch arbeitet als Typus Designerin und Schriftenmaler für der Schriftgießerei Klingspor in Offenbach dort bis zu seinem Tod blieb in 1934. Es war dort, fand er seine wahre Berufung und gedieh, die Schaffung von Arbeit, die als Rückgrat für seine Zukunft Wahrzeichen Schöpfungen serviert. Aufgrund der Klingspor Sein "der erste deutsche Hersteller, der es darauf anlegen, Künstler für die Gestaltung von Art beschäftigen", Ist es keine Überraschung, dass Koch ein Gefühl der Zugehörigkeit dort gefühlt, obwohl er nur sich selbst als als bloße Handwerker und nichts mehr. Mit rasanten Entwicklung Kochs als Typus-Designerin und Schriftenmaler, begann unterrichtete er Kalligraphie und Beschriftung an der Technischen Lehranstalten der Stadt Offenbach aM 1908, bietet ein breites Spektrum von Methoden, wie man Kalligraphie angemessen zu nutzen auf einer vielseitigen Auswahl von Medien, wie Tapisserien, Metallverarbeitung und andere. Bald Koch entwickelte einen Ruf, der Studenten aus dem Ausland angezogen, und zunehmend startete seine Karriere nach vorne als Leitfigur der typografischen Gestaltung.

Due to Klingspor being ‘the first German foundry which deliberately set out to employ artists for designing type’ (1. Cinamon, pg. 18), it’s no surprise that Koch felt a sense of belonging there, even though he only considered himself as a mere craftsman and nothing more. With Koch’s rapid development as a type-designer and letterer, he began teaching calligraphy and lettering at the Technische Lehranstalten der Stadt Offenbach a.M in 1908, offering a diverse range of methods on how to use calligraphy appropriately on a versatile selection of mediums, such as tapestries, metal work and others. Soon Koch developed a reputation that attracted students from abroad, and increasingly launched his career forward as a leading figure of typographic design.

11 ✦ Masters of the Hand

Deutscheschrift (1908) ❧ Koch's first typeface for the Klingspor foundry was a traditional German frakturfette style typeface, with its bold strokes and sharp angles.

Gilgengart (1938) ❧ Much like Koch, Zapf's first typeface was also a fraktur-fette style typeface. The difference, however, is its more elegant strokes and delicate form.

13 ✦ Masters of the Hand

Likewise, Zapf’s attention to detail and beautiful calligraphic style was soon acknowledged by the company he worked for, and he was re-assigned as a lettering retoucher. In 1938, he finished

and working with hand-

his apprenticeship and moved

pressed type, familiarizing

forward with his career, land-

himself with type design more

ing a job in Frankfurt under,

frequently, to the point where

incidentally, Rudolf Koch’s

he released his first typeface,

son, Paul Koch, who ran the

the fraktur-style Gilgengart in

foundry Werkstatt Haus zum

1938 to the D. Stempel AG type

Fürsteneck. Here, he spent most foundry. Its bold yet elegant of his time lettering songbooks

strokes evoked the style of Koch’s earlier work, but within these characters lied the delicate touch that Zapf would later become known for.

15 ✦ Masters of the Hand

❧ Hermann Zapf with Alexander S. Lawson, who wrote a great deal on Zapf and his work.

ITC Zapf Chancery (1977) ❧ Zapf Chancery blends a mixture of a cursive workhorse serif with the script elegance of Zapfino.

The next few years were

at more modern designs and

there. Here he was able to

very productive for Zapf. In

Antiqua style typefaces, such

flourish as an individual of su-

the years that followed the

as Palatino and Optima. He

preme prowess and outstand-

war, he returned to Germany

became thoroughly engaged

ing achievements far ahead of

and began teaching his cal-

in all styles of typesetting,

its time. With these new devel-

ligraphic stye and fundamen-

as well as being present and

opments of the computer being

tals at various institutions of

involved with the newly de-

able to masterfully create what

education. It was at one of

veloped forms, such as digital

would take normally years of

these institutions [The Stadel

typesetting, which he became

work, Zapf became a predomi-

School in Frankfurt] that he met

a huge advocate for, using it

nant force to be reckoned with

Gudron von Hesse, a fellow

extensively in his later career.

in the realm of type design. It

During the rise of the digital

was an exciting time for him,

calligrapher who later became

age in the 1960’s, Zapf stressed

to be able to fully realize con-

his wife in 1951. The majority

the use of a modular structure

cepts previously impossible to

of his work at this point in his

as the backbone to typesetting

achieve through other means

career was centered around

through computers. This revo-

of typesetting, such as his 1998

publication and book design,

lutionary idea wasn’t received

typeface Zapfino. Zapf contin-

but he continued to develop

well in his country, so he set

ues to work steadily as a type

his characteristic style in type

his sights toward the United

designer even in his senior

design, now trying his hand

States, eventually moving

years, at the age of 94.

typographer, teacher and

16 ✦ Masters of the Hand

With Koch, his work is widely known to be very expressionistic and personally driven. As a devout Christian man—Lutheran Protestant, specifically—he implemented Biblical teachings and passages into his work, using them as a source of inspiration to drive his ideas forward. This was an important part of his life, and was acknowledged and appreciated by those around him. As stated in Ernst Kellner’s words (a friend of the Koch family), ‘Rudolf Koch’s deep religiousness was also shared by his whole family, and the Bible always held an important place in the home. It supplied the standard for everything that happened… The Master’s Christianity was alive and undogmatic and so totally engrained in his life and work that everyone near was aware of it.’ (1. Cinamon, pgs. 48-49) This religious background was heavily evident in typographic works such as Die zehn Gebote [The Ten Commandments] or Die Bergpredigt [The Sermon on the Mount], (1. Cinamon, pgs. 81-83) the former being a woodcut production created to scale of what Koch imagined the original Ten Commandments were, and the latter hand-lettered individually into the shape of a cross on parchment. These compositions were engrossing and breathtaking, truly groundbreaking masterpieces that illuminated his character and worthiness as a man of strong resolve and conviction.



of a person’s

are what set the for their

18 ✦ Masters of the Hand

‘Lettering gives me the purest and greatest pleasure, and on countless occasions it has been to me what a song is to a singer, painting to the painter; a cheer to the joyous and a sigh to the afflicted. To me it is the happiest and most perfect expression of my life.’ Koch's fervor and enthusiastic

Hermann Zapf himself claims that Koch’s admiration derives from how ‘Morris’s fundamental intention to use manual labor, and to reject the machine, was the same’ (1. Cinamon, pg. 10). Koch employed these tra-

approach towards his unique,

ditional methods of typesetting

illustrative style stemmed from

emphatically, such as woodcut

his fascination with archaic

type, fearing that the new

letterforms and structures. He

wave of industrial typography

drew inspiration from medieval

and hot metal typesetting

and folk arts, implementing this

would make the old ways be-

style into his own punchcutting

come a lost art (2. Typophile).

and typographic compositions later. Most of these works from Renaissance periods held strong religious themes or connotations, which would also greatly influence Koch’s works. He was drawn towards the likes of historical talents such as William Morris, who was known for his illuminated-style books and textile arts.

Wilhelm Klingspor Gotisch (1919) ❧ Wilhelm Klingspor Gotisch is a sharp, angular fraktur face, paying homage to the Renaissance aesthetic Koch aspired to emulate.


eine Eifer und begeistert Ansatz seiner einzigartigen, Illustrationsstil stammten aus seine Faszination für mit archaischen Buchstabe Formen und Strukturen. Er zog Inspiration aus dem Mittelalter und der Volkskunst, die Umsetzung dieser Stil in seine eigene punchcutting und typografische Kompositionen später. Die meisten dieser Werke aus der Renaissance gehalten starke religiöse Themen oder Konnotationen, die auch einen großen Einfluss auf Kochs Werke würden. Er wurde gegen die Gleichen von historischen Talente wie William Morris, der für seine beleuchtete Stil Bücher und Textilkunst bekannt gezogen wurde. Hermann Zapf selbst behauptet, Koch Bewunderung aus, wie 'Morris fundamentale Absicht Handarbeit zu verwenden, und die Maschine ablehnen, war das gleiche "leitet. Koch beschäftigt diese traditionellen Methoden der Satz nachdrücklich, wie Holzschnitt-Typ, aus Angst, dass die neue Welle der industriellen Typografie und Bleisatz würde die alten Wege zu einer verlorenen Kunst.

20 ✦ Masters of the Hand

Zapf is, essentially, a typographer for the mass audiences, creating typefaces that are easily accessible and used for a multitude of various purposes. He was a man of the future, advocating the rise of the digital era, and never backing down from his firm beliefs in it, despite the opposition he faced from his own nation. Unlike Koch, who viewed his creations as works of dedicated craftsmanship and art, Zapf saw his work as vessels Zapf ist im Wesentlichen ein Typograf für die Massenpublikum schaffen Schriften, die leicht zugänglich und für eine Vielzahl von unterschiedlichen Zwecken sind. Er war ein Mann der Zukunft, befürworten den Aufstieg des digitalen Zeitalters, und nie Rückzieher von seinem festen Glauben daran, trotz der Opposition er von seiner eigenen Nation konfrontiert. Im Gegensatz zu Koch, der seine Kreationen als Werke der engagierten Handwerk und Kunst angesehen, sah Zapf seine Arbeit als Schiffe für ein bestimmtes Unternehmen. Zapf und Koch waren beide begeisterte Denker, aber von einer anderen Mentalität. Was Koch durch elegante Schönheit und zarten Anmut, mit religiösen Tiefe und starke Überzeugung kontrastiert erreicht, bezogen Zapf mit mechanisch angetriebenen, zukunftsorientierten Ideale, die ausgewogene seine Kreationen mit den Grundlagen der kalligraphischen Stil und technologisch innovative Strukturen. Zapf Staaten, "Typen sind Werkzeuge, die Werkzeuge des Compositor. Es gibt geeigneten und ungeeigneten Werkzeugen, und nicht jedes Werkzeug ist für jeden Job geeignet, es ist der Komponist hat die Aufgabe, das richtige Gesicht für den richtigen Job wählen "(4 Zapf, S. 19.). Während Kochs Praktiken und Methoden möglicherweise nicht mehr. werden in der Praxis so oft gestellt, wie sie zu sein, vor allem mit der heutigen Gesellschaft Denkweise und all den technologischen Fortschritt uns geschenkt verwendet, legte die wesentlichen Grundlagen Koch aus noch unterschwellig bis heute gefolgt. Vieles kann aus seiner Philosophien und Ideen gelernt werden.

for a specific enterprise. Zapf and Koch were both avid thinkers, but of a different mindset. What Koch achieved through elegant beauty and delicate grace, contrasted with religious depth and strong conviction, Zapf related to with mechanically driven, forward-thinking ideals that balanced his creations with the fundamentals of calligraphic style and technologically innovative structures. Zapf states, ‘Types are tools, the tools of the compositor. There are suitable and unsuitable tools, and not every tool is fit for every job; it is the compositor’s task to choose the right face for the right job.’ (4. Zapf, pg. 19) While Koch’s practices and methods may no longer be put into practice as often as they used to be, especially with contemporary society’s mindset and all the technological advances bestowed upon us, the core fundamentals Koch laid out are still subliminally followed to this day. Much can be learned from his philosophies and ideas.

21 âœŚ Masters of the Hand

Kabel (1927) â?§ Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus aesthetic, Kabel is a groundbreaking, geometric sans-serif typeface far ahead of its time.

23 âœŚ Masters of the Hand

Cut from the same cloth and masters of their craft, Koch and Zapf are linked by their passion and dedication to the industry of type design. Despite being active in very different periods of time and containing

The two are forerunners to blending delicate

separate aesthetics, the two are, in a way,

elegance with sharp, contrasted forms that com-

paragons of a master and apprentice rela-

municate a message of strength, integrity and

tionship, analogous through their evolution

beauty. What radiated through both of their cre-

and work ethics, separated only by the

ations was their personal touch and integration

details in between. Koch set the founda-

of themselves into their work, using elements

tion of the principles Zapf would grow to

from their histories and environment, as well as

admire and respect, and as a result, Zapf

their own intellect and natural creativity as the

established his own creative footprint that

basis for many of their creations. Koch may have

subliminally contains the essence and

been more expressive than Zapf’s technological-

spirit of Koch.

ly driven mind, but both of their works carried an organic quality, engaging and stimulating their audiences both visually and neurally on an emotional level. It was this passion and determination that not only breathed life into their static letterforms, but created a timeless pattern of intricate designs and ideas that not only kept the traditions they followed alive, but would inspire many others to follow and emulate.

25 ✦ Masters of the Hand


Rudolf Koch

Hermann Zapf Body text Palatino Regular | 7.5/13.5pt

Other typefaces used Kabel Koch Fette Deutscheschrift Maximilian Offenbach Chancery Wilhelm Klingspor Gotisch

Kompakt Zapf Book ITC Zapf Chancery Zapf Dingbats (Zapf Dingbats) Zapfino

This book was created for a Typography III course at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Designer/Writer | James E. Bonilla Instructor | Francheska Guerrero Sources 1. Cinamon, Gerald. Rudolf Koch: Letterer, Type Designer, Teacher. First ed. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2000. Print.

2. Reynolds, Dan. “Rudolf Koch.” Typophile, 06 May 2005. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <>.

3. Zapf, Hermann. “The Lifestory of Hermann Zapf.” N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

4. Zapf, Hermann. Hermann Zapf and His Design Philosophy: Selected Articles and

Lectures on Calligraphy and Contemporary Developments in Type Design, with Illustrations and Bibliographical Notes, and a Complete List of His Typefaces. Chicago: Soc. of Typographic Arts, 1987. Print.

35 â&#x153;Ś Masters of the Hand

Masters of the Hand  

This book was a comparison and contrast between esteemed typographers Rudolf Koch and Hermann Zapf. My thesis explains how despite originati...

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