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The History and Evolution of Typography Published by Blurb Publishing Pty Ltd Australia RRP $30.00 GST inc 64 pages, full colour, hard cover with endpapers First published in 2015 Text copyright Š Design is History 2015 Illustration copyright Š Renee Robinson 2015 Written by Renee Robinson Cover illustration and illustrations by Renee Robinson Designed by Renee Robinson, Robinson Design All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any way or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Blurb Publishing Pty Ltd. Printed in Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Data National Library of Australia Author: Robinson, Renee Title: History and Evolution of Typography/ written by Renee Robinson; illustrated by Renee Robinson. Edition: 1st ed. Target Audience: For typographers. Subjects: History-Typography.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For my darling Mother and Father, without whom I would have never had the confidence or courage to follow my dreams of becoming a designer. To my little sister, who was always there to annoy the hell out of me when I’m stressed, just to show me that things can always be worse. And last but certainly not least, to Aurelie, Dominique and Jacinda, for helping solve those little problems that my caffeine deprived brain just refuses to solve on its own.

CONTENTS: INTRODUCTION................8-9 CHAPTER 1...................10-19

CHAPTER 2.............20-27

Early Typographers........................11 Printing Techniques...................12-15 Type Classification.....................16-18 Gutenberg.....................................19

Arts and Crafts...........................21 Art Nouveau..........................22-23 Posters.......................................24 Futurism....................................25 DADA.....................................26-27

CHAPTER 3.............28-36

CHAPTER 4..........37-42

Suprematism..............................29 Constructivism.......................30-31 El Lissitzky.................................32 Aleksander Rodchenko................33 Kurt Schwitters..........................34 Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.....................35 Jan Tschichold.............................36

Swiss Design...........................38 Emil Ruder...............................39 Armin Hofmann........................40 Lester Beall..............................41 Adrian Frutiger.........................42

CHAPTER 5.......................43-49 Wim Crouwel......................................44 Wolfgang Weingart...............................45 The Rise of Corporate Identity..............46 Saul Bass.............................................47 Herb Lubalin........................................48 Eros, Fact and Avant Garde....................49

CHAPTER 6................50-58 Design After Modernism................51 Emigre.........................................52 David Carson...........................53-55 Louise Fili....................................56 Barbara Kruger.........................57-58

CHAPTER 7...................59-61 Stefan Sagmeister............................60 Ellen Lupton...................................61



or typographers the design, or selection, of letter forms to be organized into words and sentencesis just as important as other related matters. The selection of paper, the choice of ink, the method of printing, the design of the binding if the product at hand is a book etcetera. It is thus understood, there was by definition almost—but not quite—no typography before the invention of printing from movable type in the mid-15th century; and, thus understood, it is only by analogical extension that the term can be applied, if ever it can be, to “reading” in which the material at hand is something other than words that remain stationary on flat firm surfaces. The electronically created letter that lives out its brief life while moving across the face of a signboard or a cathode-ray tube is not a typographic item. Typography, then, exists somewhere between the extreme of manuscript writing, on the one hand, and the transient image on the electronic device, on the other hand. Whether the letter be made by metal type or photographic image is no longer important in defining the subject; whether the finished item is a book or a page influences its inclusion as typographic not one bit.


1450’s - Early Typographers - Printing Tehniques - Type Classification - Gutenberg



he years between the mid-15th century and the early 18th century proved to be a time of many changes and developments in the world of typography. The development of the printing press influenced the development of full typefaces and their production rather than the job-specific approach that most typography was developed for. Nicholas Jenson was responsible for the development of the first full roman typeface, which was based on humanistic characteristics and was highly legible. Aldus Manutius proved influential in the world of printing and production while his punch cutter Francesco Griffo developed the first italic as a handwritten style designed to conserve space so that the books Manutius published could take a smaller form. The Italian Renaissance of roman typography influenced the French which led to a period in which many developments occurred in both typography and printing. The push towards a higher quality of printing was led by several printers including Robert Estienne, Simone de Colines and Geofroy Tory. Apprenticing for de Colines and Estienne, Claude Garamond learned the trade of punch cutting and printing. After Estienne died, Garamond became the first to produce and sell typefaces to other printers. His style of type design moved even further from the style of calligraphy and his type designs were further developed by Jean Jannon who produced a set of roman and italics which were mistakenly attributed as Garamond’s all the way into the 20th century because of their resemblance. All printers and book publishers during the time produced samples of their typefaces for publication in small specimen books. Perhaps the most notable is from Pierre Simon Fournier whose details of the practices of book publishing, punch cutting and typography provided a historical reference for the development of the trades. He also developed a system of type measurement, which was further developed by Francois Didot into the point based system that still exists today.

Francois’ son, Firmin Diot, was one of the typographers responsible for the development of the modern roman style of type design, which is emphasized by a high contrast of strokes and hairline serifs. Giambattista Bodoni was the other typographer responsible for the development of the modern roman style and was instrumental in chronicling, developing and refining the production and use of metal type. He based his work on four properties that made typography beautiful, uniformity of design, smartness and neatness, good taste, and charm. In the early 18th century William Caslon led an effort to remove the English dependence on the production of Dutch typefaces and produced several types that, while somewhat retrogressive and more related to classical roman styles than the modern styles of Didot and Bodoni, quickly became the standard in the expansion of the British Empire. The British Empire spread the Caslon typefaces across the world and it was the standard of American printing for many years. An English businessman by the name of John Baskerville designed type that was based on the style of engravers rather than based upon handwriting. His transitional style bridged the gap between the classic roman and modern roman typefaces.

An early sample of one of Jenson’s first Roman typefaces, published in 1475.

A specimen of an early typeface developed by Baskerville.

'’Having been an early admirer of the beauty of letters, I became insensibly desirous of contributing to the perfection of them. I formed to myself ideas of greater accuracy than had yet appeared, and had endeavoured to produce a set of types according to what I conceived to be their true proportion.” —John Baskerville, preface to Milton, 1758 (Anatomy of a Typeface)




here are a variety of printing techniques that designers can use to solve problems and create visual materials. Some are older than others, some are not as easily available as they used to be and others are much more expensive and often out of a clients budget. Regardless of the specifics or availability, all of these types of printing are still in practice today. It is important to know what you can do with printed materials in order to select the best possible materials and processes for the project.



form of letterpress, Wood Block printing is one of the oldest techniques for printing and has a long history of development in both Europe and Asia. It is a relief process in which an image is carved in reverse into a piece of wood, inked up and paper is pressed down on top of it to transfer the ink and image. It is one of the rarest forms of printing in use today, due primarily to time consumption. However, there are many sets of type still in existence that were created from woodblocks and are often used in letterpress poster printing.



ngraving is perhaps the most expensive of all printing techniques as it is also one of the most time-consuming. It is typically used for fancy gala invitations or business cards of high-ranking officials in large corporations. The engraved image is first carved by hand or machine onto a metal plate. The engraved spaces are filled with ink and the paper pressed on top of it. The result is slightly raised, crisp images and saturated colors that are nearly impossible to reproduce with other techniques.

hermography may look and feel a lot like engraving when the final product is produced, but the details that are present in the engraving process fall short in thermography. While the details may only be noticed by designers, typographers and people who pay close attention, they are noticeable. However, thermography is much more cost effective. The process involves laying down ink, adding thermography powder, then using heat to raise the image slightly off of the page.



hototypesetting has all but been rendered obsolete by the personal computer and digital typesetting, but for several decades it enjoyed a success as the standard in typesetting and printing. It is a process in which the type is generated on a photographic piece of paper. The paper was processed and ready for paste up, which is the process of creating a layout. When a layout is camera ready it was photographed to create a negative that could be used for offset printing.





ffset printing, often called offset lithography, is still the most commonly used method of printing. This method of printing is created using plates that are generated for each color used in the printing process. Some projects may call for 2 colors, some may use a standard 4 color CMYK process and others can require even more than that with specialty spot colors, varnishes and a variety of coatings also available. There are two kinds of offset printing called Sheetfed, in which individual sheets are fed into the printer, and Web, which prints from large rolls and can be used to quickly produce very large quantities of printed materials such as newspapers.


ypically operating with web presses, flexography does not use the standard plates of offset lithography. Instead it uses rubber plates and water based inks which dry quicker and allow for faster production times. Faster drying times also allow for more effective results on materials like plastic which does not absorb ink like paper does.


nvented in the 15th century, movable type is the process of setting type by hand for printing on a letterpress machine. The type can be made of either wood or metal and letters were cut individually by craftsmen called punch cutters. This style of printing was the first developed that could rapidly, a relative term, produce multiple copies of lengthy printed materials and books. It remained the standard printing technique until photo typesetting came about in the 1950s.



igital printing is a process that uses toner, rather than ink, which sits on top of the piece of paper instead of being absorbed by it. While the quality of this process has increased dramatically since its inception, it still can not match the quality of offset lithography, especially in small details, typography and color-matching. The fact that they do not require unique plates means that they can create individual designs that may have varying details quickly and at a lower cost.



he common household printing solution, inkjet is a feasible solution for small print runs and is available to the general public at an affordable cost. The process involves a printer which communicates digitally with a computer of some sort and physically sprays the ink onto the paper. It normally is used with 4 to 8 inks in a CMYK process and can produce richly saturated colors on a variety of materials with relative ease.





etterpress is still alive today, although it exists on a much smaller scale and usually only in specialty shops. The process often now involves photopolymer plates that can translate a digital design into a raised plate for use with vintage presses. It has seen a revival of success in recent years in the fine art, craft, and design worlds and is often used to create wedding invitations and posters. However, it remains a very flexible and reliable printing method that can be used for almost anything.



ilkscreen printing, or screen printing for short, offers a wide range of brightly colored inks and is often used for printing t-shirts, posters and other promotional materials. The process involves a design being laid on top of a screen (originally made of silk although a variety of materials are now used) which is coated with photo emulsion and exposed to light. The emulsion that is exposed hardens and the rest can be washed away leaving a stencil of sorts that ink can be pulled through using a squeegee.



here are thousands of different typefaces and fonts available to designers, printers, publishers, artists and writers (as well as the general public) today. There are all types of display and text typefaces and everything in between. Most are available in a digital format from a variety of type foundries and can easily be used, and exploited, with modern computer technology. The vast amount of type available makes specific classification of every one nearly impossible and somewhat frivolous. However, it is important to have an understanding of the basic styles of typefaces to help narrow down the research and selection of the correct typeface.



etters associated with the art of calligraphy and the fonts developed from their production can be classified as calligraphic. Calligraphic letters can be, although do not have to be, classified as Chancery, Etruscan or Uncial. Chancery letters have slightly sloping narrow letters and were influential in the development of serif italics. Etruscan faces do not have lowercase letters and are based on an early form of Roman calligraphy in which the brush was held at a steep angle. The Celtic style, Uncial letters are created from holding the brush at an almost horizontal angle. There is only one case in Uncial designs, although they did become the basis for the development of the roman lower case.




lackletter typefaces are a script style of calligraphy that were popularized in Germany, although they were used all over Europe from the middle ages through the Renaissance. A highly ornamental style of typgraphy, different styles are often associated with the different regions in which they were developed and used. The main classifications include Textura, Schwabacher, Cursiva and Fraktur. Textura is the most closely related to the calligraphic style and often includes a large number of ligatures. Schwabacher typefaces have a simplified, rounded stroke and several of their lowercase letters, including ‘o’, are often analogous forms. Cursiva, as the name suggests, is closely related to cursive letters and can be recognized by the more frequent presence of descenders and looped ascenders. Fraktur is the most common form of Blackletter and is characterized by broken strokes.




erifed typefaces were popular much earlier than sans-serif typefaces and include semi-structural details on many of the letters. People often refer to them as feet, although that is in no way a proper anatomical term when referring to typography. Their are many different classifications for serifed typefaces, often named for their origins, including Grecian, Latin, Scotch, Scotch Modern, French Old Style, Spanish Old Style, Clarendon and Tuscan. Some of these classifications can also be placed into broader classifications of typography including the styles below.

OLD STYLE The Old Style or Humanist serif typefaces developed in the 15th and 16th centuries and are characterized by a low contrast in stroke weight and angled serifs.

TRANSITIONAL The bridge for the gap between Old Style and Modern serifed typefaces, Transitional type has a more vertical axis and sharper serifs than humanist forms.

MODERN Modern serifed typefaces developed in the late 18th and early 19th century and were a radical break from the traditional typography of the time with high contrast of strokes, straight serifs and a totally vertical axis.

EGYPTIAN Egyptian, or slab-serifed, typefaces have heavy serifs and were used for decorative purposes and headlines because the heavy serifs impeded legibility at small point sizes.




ust exactly like what it sounds, a sans-serif typeface is a typeface without serifs. They can be found in history as early as the 5th century, although the classical revival of the Italian Renaissance return to old style serifed typefaces made them virtually obsolete until the 20th century. Their was much development of sans-serif typefaces in Germany as a revolt against the ornate lettering of the popular Blackletter styles which led to sans-serif typefaces based on the purity of geometric forms. Much like serifed typefaces, there are many different classifications for sans-serif typefaces, including Gothic, Grotesque, Doric, Linear, Swiss and Geometric. Some of the broader and more well known classifications are listed below.



cript typefaces are based on the forms made with a flexible brush or pen and often posess varied strokes reminiscent of handwriting. There are many different classifications including Brush Script, English Roundhand and Rationalized Script. However, the broadest forms of classification are Formal Script and Casual Script. Formal Scripts are based on the developments and writings of 17th and 18th century handwriting masters such as George Bickham, George Shelley and George Snell. Whilst Casual scripts were developed in the 20th century as a result of photo-typesetting and are more varied and the inconsistencies appear to have been a result of using a wet pen rather than a pen nib.


HUMANIST Humanist characteristics include proportions that were modeled on old style typefaces, open strokes and a slightly higher contrast in strokes in comparison to other sans-serif typefaces. Example: Gill Sans.

TRANSITIONAL Closely related to the characteristics of transitional serifed typefaces, these typefaces include a more upright axis and a uniform stroke. Example: Helvetica.

GEOMETRIC Geometric sans-serif typefaces, as their name suggests, are letterforms based on geometric forms. In some cases letters, such as the lower case ‘o’, are perfect geometric forms. Example: Futura.


ixel fonts developed from the invention of the computer and were based on the on-screen display format of pixels. They are based on an array of pixels, are often called Bitmap fonts and are often designed only for a specific point size. Many type foundries offer a selection of bitmap fonts and some, like Fonts For Flash create only bitmap fonts.



hile serifed and sans-serif typefaces can often be used for text typesetting, there are a vast majority of fonts and typefaces whose legibility wanes when used in smaller point sizes. These typefaces are often developed with a specific use in mind and are designed for larger point size use in headlines, posters and billboards. Decorative is less of a classification and can include a wide variety of typefaces underneath the umbrella of the term.



orn in 1398 in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg is best known for his invention of movable mechanized type, which played an important role in the development of the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. Movable type was a massive improvement of the handwritten manuscript and allowed for much faster production of printed materials. Movable type was also invented in China at approximately the same time that Gutenberg developed his invention. However, Gutenberg was instrumental in spreading its use across Europe and the World. Gutenberg’s major publication was a Bible, which is referred to as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the Gutenberg Bible. The book first appeared in 1455, although it is thought to have undergone production starting in 1454, and there were approximately 180 copies produced, of which 21 complete copies still exist. The book set many of the printing standards for future publications and is still referenced for its quality in production and typography.



1850’s - Arts and Crafts - Art Nouveau - Posters - Futurism - DADA



he Arts and Crafts Movement originated in Britain during the late 19th century and was characterized by a style of decoration reminiscent of medieval times. The primary artist associated with the movement is William Morris, whose work was reinforced with writings from John Ruskin. The movement placed a high importance on the quality of craftsmanship while emphasizing the importance for the arts to contribute to economic reform. Morris was instrumental in the founding of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., which would later evolve to just Morris & Co.. Morris & Co. and their publishing division Kelmscott Press contributed much of the work that is associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. The style is associated with many different types of design including architecture, typography, book printing, textile and interior design.

William Morris in the arts and crafts style

Image courtesy of Pintrest

Image courtesy of Pintrest



rt Nouveau was an artistic movement which peaked in popularity between 1890 and 1905 which was practiced in the fields of art, architecture and applied art. It is a French term meaning “new art” and is characterized by organic and plant motifs as well as other highly stylized forms. The organic forms often took the form of sudden violent curves which were often referenced by the term whiplash. Its short success was a reaction against the late 19th century academic art and was replaced by the development of 20th century modernist styles. Relative to graphic design it was popular in book production and poster printing, although it was used by artists for a variety of other types of work including advertisements, magazines, labels and typography. The typography was so heavily ornate that it was not desirable for text faces but great for display work.


Arthur Mackmurdo Wren’s City Churches Cover, 1883




he Poster was one of the earliest forms of advertisement and began to develop as a medium for visual communication in the early 19th century. They influenced the development of typography because they were meant to be read from a distance and required larger type to be produced, usually from wood rather than metal. The poster quickly spread around the world and became a staple of the graphic design trade. Many artists as well, such as Henry Toulouse-Latrec and Henry van de Velde, created posters. They were used to promote various political parties, recruit soldiers, advertise products and spread ideas to the general public. The artists of the international typographic style of design believed that it was the most effective tool for communication and their contributions to the field of design arose from the effort to perfect the poster. Even with the popularity of the internet posters are still being created every single day for all sorts of reasons.




uturism was not only an art movement but also a social movement that developed in Italy in the early 20th century. Futurists were well versed and practiced in nearly every field of art including painting, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, theater, film, literature, music and architecture. It was a movement that particularly despised not just certain aspects of classical antiquity, but everything that was not totally new.

Cover of Blast, Wyndham Lewis and Friends, 1915

The painters of Futurism were particularly successful but much of the ideas of the movement were generated through writing and several manifestos of futurism were published. They often broke light and color down into a series of dots or geometric forms through a process called divisionism. Futurism influenced many modern art movements of the 20th century which in turn influenced the development of graphic design. The writings, philosophies and aesthetic characteristics of futurism have been particularly influential to designers.

Natalia Goncharova, Cyclist, 1913




ada was a cultural movement that was concentrated on anti-war politics which then made its way to the art world through art theory, art manifestoes, literature, poetry and eventually graphic design and the visual arts. The movement, although Dadaists would not have been happy calling it a movement, originated in Switzerland and spread across Europe and into the United States, which was a safe haven for many writers during World War I. An anti-art movement, Dadaists attempted to break away from the styles of traditional art aesthetics as well as rationality, of any kind. They produced many publications as a home for their writings and protest materials which were handed out at gatherings and protests. The visual aesthetics associated with the movement often include found objects and materials combined through collage.




1920’s - Suprematism - Constructivism - El Lissitzky - Aleksander Rodchenko - Kurt Schwitters - Laszlo Moholy-Nagy - Jan Tschichold




uprematism found its base in the application of the fundamental geometric forms, particularly the square and the circle. It originated in 1915 in Russia and was established by Kazimir Malevich. The movement also expressed an interest in concepts that related to noneuclidean geometry, which imagined forms moving through space. A non-objective style of art its simplification of form and use of geometry influenced, among many other things, the development of Constructivism and the Bauhaus. The style developed as Russia was in a revolutionary state and was an effort to do away with the old and create something new. It was primarily developed in the field of painting although its practice extended to poetry and theater. It also revitalized an interest in traditional Russian folk art. The most identified work is Malevich’s White on White, which is composed of an offset white square set inside of another white square.




movement with origins in Russia, Constructivism was primarily an art and architectural movement. It rejected the idea of art for arts’ sake and the traditional bourgeois class of society to which previous art had been catered. Instead it favored art as a practise directed towards social change or that would serve a social purpose. Developing after World War I, the movement sought to push people to rebuild society in a Utopian model rather than the one that had led to the war. The term construction art was first coined by Kazimir Malevich in reference to the work of Aleksander Rodchenko. Graphic Design in the constructivism movement ranged from the production of product packaging to logos, posters, book covers and advertisements. Rodchenko’s graphic design works became an inspiration to many people in the western world including Jan Tschichold and the design motif of the constructivists is still borrowed, and stolen, from in much of graphic design today.




l Lissitzky was a Russian born artist, designer, typographer, photographer and architect who designed many exhibitions and propaganda for the Soviet Union in the early 20th century. His development of the ideas behind the Suprematist art movement were very influential in the development of the Bauhaus and the Constructivist art movements. His stylistic characteristics and experimentation with production techniques developed in the 1920s and 30s have been an influence on graphic designers since. In his early years he developed a style of painting in which he used abstract geometric shapes, which he referred to as “prouns�, to define the spatial relationships of his compositions. The shapes were developed in a 3-dimensional space, that often contained varying perspectives, which was a direct contrast to the ideas of suprematist theories which stressed the simplification of shapes and the use of 2D space only. He moved around in the 1920s and spent time in both Germany as a cultural representative of Russia and, after he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, Switzerland in a Swiss sanatorium. But this never stopped him from working as he continued to produce propaganda posters, books, buildings and exhibitions for the Soviet Union. In 1932 Stalin demanded that artists conform to much stricter guidelines or be blacklisted, Lissitzky managed to retain his position as head of exhibitions. In 1941 his tuberculosis overcame him and caused his death.



orn in Russia in 1891 Rodchenko became an artist and designer of many mediums including painting, photography, sculpture, advertising and packaging. Heavily influenced by the upheaval surrounding the Russian revolution of 1917, he was one of the most prolific constructivist artists of the period. He was also a member of the Productivists, which pushed for the introduction of art into every day life, a concept which in many ways describes modern day graphic design. His early focus was on painting before starting his career as a graphic designer, later he would experiment with photography and photo-montage. Most of his design work was for the Russian airline company Dobrolet, producing many packages, advertisements, logos and posters. His design work for other clients ranged from book covers to bookmarks, photo-montage and illustration, and even set and costume design for various Russian theaters. In 1921 he declared “The End of Painting” when he exhibited three solid monochromatic canvases, one each, in hues of red, yellow and blue. He deemed that he had reduced painting to its logical conclusion and that there was no reason to continue exploring the medium. This opened the doors for the beginning of a new Utopian way of life, and way of approaching art. Rodchenko’s work influenced so many of the designers of the early 20th century that it is impossible to catalog the vast reaches of the idealogy that he helped define during his career.



urt Schwitters is most commonly associated with the Dada movement, but he was also an integral participant in the Constructivist and Surrealist movements. He worked in many mediums including painting, poetry, installation art, sculpture, graphic design and typography. His influence in the art world and the popularity of his collage style of artwork were far reaching both in Europe and the US. After World War I society in Germany began to become somewhat more stable and Schwitters became less active in the Constructivist and Surrealist movements and joined the German Dada group. During this time he published a periodical titled Merz, which was perhaps his most influential graphic design work. Merz was a term that Schwitters often used in his work, describing it as:

�In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready.... Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz. It was like a revolution within me, not as it was, but as it should have been.� The periodical featured a new topic each issue including: artist features, children stories and poetry. Collaborators included El Lissitzky, van Doesburg and Jan Tschichold.




nown for his versatility and the fundamentals of design which he taught his students, Laszlo replaced Johannes Itten as director of the Bauhaus in 1923. He experimented in many different fields including photography, typography, sculpture, painting, industrial design and printmaking. His experimentation across multiple mediums led to graphic design work characterized by bold typography in combination with striking photography. After he resigned from his position at the Bauhaus in 1928, he spent time working in Berlin as a film and stage designer. In 1937 he moved to Chicago and formed the New Bauhaus, which is now the Illinois Institute of Technology. The school shared the same philosophy as the original Bauhaus and caught on quickly. He chronicled his efforts to establish the curriculum of the school in his book Vision in Motion.




schichold claimed that he was one of the most powerful influences on 20th century typography. There are few who would attempt to deny that statement. The son of a sign painter and trained in calligraphy, Tschichold began working with typography at a very early age. Raised in Germany, he worked closely with Paul Renner (who designed Futura) and fled to Switzerland during the rise of the Nazi party. His emphasis on new typography and sans-serif typefaces was deemed a threat to the cultural heritage of Germany, which traditionally used Blackletter Typography and the Nazis seized much of his work before he was able to flee the country. When Tschichold wrote Die Neue Typographie he set forth rules for standardization of practices relating to modern type usage. He condemned all typefaces except for sans-


serif types, advocated standardized sizes of paper and set forth guidelines for establishing a typographic hierarchy when using type in design. While the text still has many relative uses today, Tschichold eventually returned to a classicist theory in which centered designs and roman typefaces were favored for blocks of copy. He spent part of his career with Penguin Books and while he was there he developed a standardized practice for creating the covers for all of the books produced by Penguin. He personally oversaw the development of more than 500 books between the years 1947-49. Every period of his career has left a lasting impression on how designers think about and use typography, and it will continue to affect them into the future.


1940’s - Swiss Design - Emil Ruder - Armin Hofmann - Lester Beall - Adrian Frutiger



ften referred to as the International Typographic Style or the International Style, the style of design that originated in Switzerland in the 1940s and 50s was the basis of much of the development of graphic design during the mid 20th century. Led by designers Josef M端ller-Brockmann at the Zurich School of Arts and Krafts and Armin Hofmann at the Basel School of Design, the style favored simplicity, legibility and objectivity. Of the many contributions to develop from the two schools were the use of, sans-serif typography, grids and asymmetrical layouts. Also stressed was the combination of typography and photography as a means of visual communication. The primary influential works were developed as posters, which were seen to be the most effective means of communication.



mil Ruder was a typographer and graphic designer who, born in Switzerland in 1914, helped Armin Hofmann form the Basel School of Design and establish the style of design known as Swiss Design. He taught that, above all, typography’s purpose was to communicate ideas through writing. He placed a heavy importance on sans-serif typefaces and his work is both clear and concise, especially his typography. Like most designers classified as part of the Swiss Design movement he favored asymmetrical compositions, placing a high importance on the counters of characters and the negative space of compositions. A friend and associate of Hofmann, Frutiger and Mßller Brockmann, Ruder played a key role in the development of graphic design in the 1940s and 50s. His style has been emulated by many designers, and his use of grids in design has influenced the development of web design on many levels.




y the age of 27 Armin Hofmann had already completed an apprenticeship in lithography and had begun teaching typography at the Basel School of Design. His colleagues and students were integral in adding to work and theories that surrounded the Swiss International Style, which stressed a belief in an absolute and universal style of graphic design. The style of design they created had a goal of communication above all else, practiced new techniques of photo-typesetting, photo-montage and experimental composition and heavily favored sans-serif typography. He taught for several years at the Basel School of Design and he was not there long before he replaced Emil Ruder as the head of the school. The Swiss International Style, and Hofmann, thought that one of the most efficient forms of communications was the poster and Hofmann spent much of his career designing posters, in particularly for the Basel Stadt Theater. Just as Emil Ruder and Joseph M端ller-Brockmann did, Hofmann wrote a book outlining his philosophies and practices. His Graphic Design Manual was, and still is, a reference book for all graphic designers.



man with a very technology-oriented background, Beall grew up playing with Ham radios and creating his own wireless sets. He graduated with a Ph.D in the History of Fine Art and the years following his graduation found him expressing an interest in modern art movements such as Surrealism, Constructivism and Dadaism. His work as an advertiser and graphic designer quickly gained international recognition and the most productive years of his career, the 1930s and 40s, saw many successes in both fields. His clear and concise use of typography was highly praised both in the United States and abroad. Throughout his career he used bold primary colors and illustrative arrows and lines in a graphic style that became easily recognizable as his own. He eventually moved to rural New York and set up an office, and home, at a premises that he and his family called “Dumbarton Farm�. He remained at the farm until his death in 1969.



drian Frutiger has created some of the most used typefaces of the 20th and 21st century. Athough interested in many fields including woodcut and paper sillhouettes, Frutiger has been passionate about typography for his entire life. Spending most of his career working for Deberny & Peignot updating typefaces and preparing them for photo-typesetting, as well as designing typefaces of his own accord, he has created almost 30 typefaces. Some of his most famous typefaces include Univers, Frutiger (created for the Charles de Gaulle airport), Egyptienne, Serifa and Avenir. Frutiger is one of only a few typographers whose career spans across hot metal, photographic and digital typesetting. He has also been instrumental in refining his own typefaces to include more weights and true italics, some examples are Frutiger Next and Avenir Next.

Univers font sample



is the jeans, and Univers the dinner jacket. Helvetica is here to stay.�


1960’s - Wim Crouwel - Wolfgang Weingart - The rise of Corporate Identity - Saul Bass - Herb Lubalin - Eros, Fact and Avant Garde



rouwel is a graphic designer and typographer born in the Netherlands. In 1963 he founded the studio Total Design, now called Total Identity. His most well known work has been for the Stedelijk Museum. His typography is extremely well planned and based on very strict systems of grids. He has also designed expositions, album covers and identity systems. He has published two typefaces Fodor and Gridnik, digitized versions of both are available from The Foundry.



eingart was most influential as a teacher and a design philosopher. He began teaching at the Basel School of Design, where he was appointed an instructor of typography by Armin Hofman in 1963. He also taught for the Yale University Summer Design Program in Brissago. Throughout his entire career he spent time traveling and lecturing throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia. He taught a new approach to typography that influenced the development of New Wave, Deconstruction and much of graphic design in the 1990s. While he would contest that what he taught was also Swiss Typography, since it developed naturally out of Switzerland, the style of typography that came from his students led to a new generation of designers that approached most design in an entirely different manner than traditional Swiss typography.



hile corporate identity was developed in the early 20th century, it was during the 1960s and 70s that it began to become a necessity for all corporations. The industrial revolution made way for a new generation of corporations across the world and they adopted varying approaches to presenting their brand identities. Not only were logos developed but brand standards became a part of the daily life of employees and described, down to the most minute detail, how the company was to present itself to the public. Brands were constantly inventing and reinventing their visual image to adapt to a society that was focused on new technological innovations and modern means of communication, travel and entertainment. Brand identities can be done well, or not, and the success of the company often depends on the effectiveness of the visual materials that represent it. Although during the 60s brand identity was something that only major corporations placed much importance on, through the development and spread of graphic design it has found a place in the development of almost every business in every field of modern society.



aul Bass was an American designer whose 40+ year career spanned everything from print and identity development to movie title credits. He worked with major corporations to establish logos and branding guidelines, including AT&T, United Way and Continental Airlines. He designed titles for over 30 films and he won an academy award for his short film Why Man Creates. Also proficient in typography his “cut-paper� style is one of the most recognized styles of design from the 1950s and 60s. He revolutionized the way that people viewed movie titles by using the time to not just display the information but give a short visual metaphor or story that intrigued the viewer. Often times it was a synopsis or reference to the movie itself. His list of title credits include famous films such as West Side Story, Psycho, Goodfellas, Big, North by Northwest and Spartacus. He created four titles for Martin Scorsese, the last of which was for Casino.



ost people recognize the name Herb Lubalin in association with the typeface Avant Garde. And he was the typographer and designer behind its creation, after the success of Avant Garde Magazine and its typographic logo. But, his career spanned a much wider scope than that. One of the people behind the culture-shocking magazines AvantGarde, Eros and Fact, he was a constant boundary breaker on both a visual and social level. Part of the founding team of the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) and the principal of Herb Lubalin.Inc it was hard to escape the reach of Herb during the 1960s and 70s. His constant search for something new and a passion for inventiveness made him one of the most successful art directors of the 20th century. He had offices internationally in Paris and London and partnered with many talented individuals over the years including Aaron Burns, Tom Carnase, Ernie Smith and Ralph Ginzburg. A graduate of the Cooper Union in New York he spent time as a visiting professor there as well as designed a logo for them. Constantly working and achieving much success throughout his career, at the age of 59 he proclaimed:




he collaboration of Ralph Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin, Fact, Eros and Avant Garde were culturally relevant publications that pushed many of the ideas of 1960s society. Fact and Eros both suffered relatively short careers while still managing to have significant cultural impacts. Avant Garde, on the other hand was quite successful and tenured a career that lasted a slightly longer period of 3 years and 16 issues between 1968 and 1971. All three publications provided Lubalin with a development ground to practice his emerging style of typography and design which influenced much of the design community during the 1960s and 70s.


he first of Ginzburg and Lubalin’s three productions, Eros was a quarterly hardbound publication filled with articles and photo-essays relating to the topics of love and sex. During the radical 1960s the publication was received with both positive and negative reviews and Ginzburg was indicted under federal obscenity laws for the publication of the fourth issue. The combination of the high cost of the hardbound publication and the legal fees incurred during Ginzburg’s court case cause the magazine to close down.



act magazine was a similar venture by the two that was equally controversial, although it shifted the subject matter from sex to culture and politics. The magazine was sued by presidential candidate Barry Goldwater for their publication of an article that said Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be president of the United States. The punitive damages of the case caused the magazine to cease publication.



he most notable of the three, Avant Garde was reminiscent of Eros in its hardbound format and controversial content. The magazine combined aspects of both Fact and Eros and published articles and imagery that were often sexual, critical of the American government and radically different than traditional publications. While there was no direct legal actions brought against Avant Garde it was forced to shut down when Ginzburg went to prison for the Eros scandal.



1980’s - Design after Modernism - Emigre - Davd Carson - Louise Fili - Barbara Kruger




fter the success of the Swiss International Typographic Style and the theories of modernism as it applied to architecture and art, many artists and designers looked for new ways to express themselves and their ideas. Many of the design approaches that gained popularity in the 1980s were developed in a direct revolution against the ideas of the cleanliness, legibility and rationality of modernism. The term Post Modernism is often used as a broad term that encompasses many movements and design aesthetics of the late 20th century. However it is a term that developed as an approach to and is most applicable to architecture. However, that being said, the theories of postmodernism, deconstruction and post-structuralism found their way into graphic design during this time through the works of a wide variety of designers. The introduction and success of the personal computer allowed for designers to take the clean design of modernism, destroy it and reassemble it in a new visual language. Most associated with the ideas of deconstruction was the designer David Carson whose work for the magazines Ray Gun and Beach Culture helped develop the aesthetic commonly referred to simply as deconstruction. Wolfgang Weingart’s approach to typography and design was being carried on by April Greiman and labeled as New Wave. Emigre exploded onto the design scene in 1984 with a host of new approaches to, and uses for, typography. All while the students from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, such as Ed Fella and Andrew Blauvelt were allowed the freedom to explore and develop these, as well as many other design aesthetics.



he invention of the personal computer shook the entire world, forcing people to evaluate the way that they communicated with others and providing a new platform for design and advertising to distribute its messages. Flipping the design community on its had both as a tool of production and personal expression the computer has been both an asset and hindrance to the world of graphic design ever since. While the computer has allowed for infinitely new developments of design techniques and mediums as well as increased efficiency of both the conception and production phases of design, it has also saturated the market with ineffective and misguided design produced by people with little or no education in graphic design. The development of cost-effective graphics driven software has allowed anyone with an interest in design to start exploring its application. It has also proven to be an effective collaboration tool allowing individuals from across the world to work and design together in partnerships that could not have otherwise existed. Allowing for the development of new fields of design, such as interactve design, and providing new ways of distributing traditional design mediums, such as advertising, the personal computer has provided a vast amount of opportunities for modern designers.



migre magazine was published a total of 69 times, usually irregularly, over the years between 1984 and 2005. One of the first publications to use Macintosh computers, Emigre influenced the move towards desktop publishing within the graphic design community. But that was not the end of its influence. Art directors Rudy Vanderlands and Zuzana Licko entranced designers, photographers and typographers alike with their use of experimental layouts and opinionated articles. The focus of the magazine moved from culture to designers to design itself, with an increasing focus on the publication and promotion of varied articles on design by many different authors. The magazine also changed formats several times during its career switching from an oversized publication to a textfriendly reader and then to a multimedia format, from issue 60 to 65, which came with a CD or DVD.




urrently calling New York his base of operations, Carson was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and spent much of his early life in southern California where he was a high school teacher before becoming a designer. Ingrained within the surfing sub-culture present in southern California, Carson started experimenting with graphic design during the mid 1980s. Not only a designer, in 1989 he has qualified as the 9th best surfer in the world. His interest in the world of surfing gave him the opportunities to experiment with design, working on several different publications related to the profession. Transworld Skateboarding, Beach Culture, How Magazine and RayGun were among the primary publications on which he worked. However, it was RayGun where he gained perhaps the most recognition and was able to share his design style, characterized by “dirty� type which adheres to none of the standard practices of typography and is often illegible, with the widest audience. After the success of RayGun, and press from the New York Times and Newsweek, he formed his own studio. David Carson Design was founded in 1995 and is still home to Carson and his work.





designer who is absolutely enthralled with Italian culture, Louise Fili worked in the book publishing business for 11 years and now runs her own design studio where she specializes in restaurant identity, food packaging and book jacket design. Her interest in food and the Italian culture started when she was very young. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she first visited Italy when she was 16 years old. Her affection for typography also started when she was very young and she would often spend the nighttime hours hiding in the dark so she could carve lettering into the wall over her bed. She was a designer for Herb Lubalin for 3 years before becoming an art director for Pantheon Books. While she was there she designed over 2000 book covers and jackets. She is married to designer and author Steven Heller, with whom she has collaborated on several books. Louise Fili Ltd. was founded in 1989, where she continues to create Italian Art Deco inspired designs for a wide variety of clients.




hile she has studied design at the Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University and the School of Visual Arts and spent 12 years working as a magazine designer for CondĂŠ Nast, Barbara Kruger bridges the gap between fine art and design in her personal work. Her time spent as a designer and art director for magazines like Mademoiselle, House and Garden, and Aperture certainly influenced her signature style of combining found magazine imagery with simple, to the point typography. With Kruger setting much of her text in Futura Bold Oblique and addressing topics like consumerism, feminism and classicism, it is hard to not have some kind of emotional reaction to the stark statements in her work. She has been a pioneer of guerrilla art, producing some of her original works on shopping bags, t-shirts, bus benches and billboards. She has had exhibitions in many galleries around the world and currently resides and works in both Los Angeles and New York.




2000’s - Stefan Sagmeister - Ellen Lupton



orn in Austria in 1962, Stefan Sagmeister was originally on a path to become an engineer. After shifting his course in life towards design he studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and was accepted at the Pratt Institute in New York on a Fullbright Scholarship after that. He first started working professionally in the field for Leo Burnett, in their Hong Kong office in 1991. After a short stint there he began working with Tibor Kalman at his studio M&Co. It wasn’t long after that that Tibor announced he was closing the doors on M&Co, in 1993, and Sagmeister formed Sagmeister, Inc. He has been there ever since. His studio is very small in size and he works only with clients that appeal to him. He astonished the design community in 2000 when he closed the doors on his studio and took a year off for personal reflection. When he came back he published his first book, Made You Look. Thoroughly convinced that the reflection process was important in his continued creativity he has toured the design circuit giving many lectures and presentations about his personal success. He continues to operate his studio where he works for clients from a wide range of industries including fashion and music.




writer, educator and curator (as well as a graphic designer), Ellen Lupton studied art and design in New York at the Cooper Union during the 1980s. She spent several years curating a small design gallery inside of the Cooper Union before being offered a “real job� at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 1992. Since then she has published multiple books on design and typography as well as running writing for several design blogs online. She is married to Abbot Miller, who is a partner with Pentagram in New York. Her books and writings have been wildly successful as graphic design primers for design students as well as educational reference tools for designers worldwide. Since 1997 she has also been the director of the MFA in Graphic Design program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She frequents the design and art lecture circuit where she talks about her work, books and ideas and was awarded the gold medal from AIGA in 2007.


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'’I believe that in design, 30 percent dignity, 20 percent beauty and 50 percent absurdity are necessary,� — Shigeo Fukuda

Profile for Renee Robinson

The History and Evolution of Typography  

A book about typography, its evolution and the historical movements and typographers that have impacted upon its development.

The History and Evolution of Typography  

A book about typography, its evolution and the historical movements and typographers that have impacted upon its development.