The History of Typography in Print Magazine

In the Spring issue of Print magazine, Paul Shaw charts the bold (and at times, bizarre)
evolution of typography within Print in timeline format. Below, you can read Shaw’s full report on how the typographic path of Print magazine has veered left and swung right throughout the last seven-and-a-half decades.

Print has been chronicling graphic design for 75 years, yet the magazine’s typography has been an uneven barometer of the typographic trends of those years. When the publication began in 1940 as Print: A Quarterly Journal of the Graphic Arts, metal type still held sway, even though the rumblings of phototype were already underway. The Uhertype machine had been invented in 1925 by Edmund Uher Jr. in Switzerland, and in the 1930s Harold Horman and Edward Rondthaler had made their first demonstration of the Rutherford Photo-lettering Machine, which would become the foundation of Photo-Lettering Inc. five years later. But these new inventions had no impact on Print.

From 1940 until the end of 1973, Print was set in metal type, a combination of Linotype (with one exception) for text and foundry type for titles. Amusingly, the first issue, designed by Howard Trafton, has no type or lettering on the cover—just some fingerprints and an odd sun figure holding a book. The interior typography is a harmonious combination of Caledonia for text and Bulmer for article titles.

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Print issue 1 1940

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Print issue 5 1947

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In this download from Print magazine, you’ll find expert reviews on the best book design, album cover design, app and product design, type design and more.

Throughout the 1940s and into the mid-1950s, Caledonia remained the text type for Print and Bulmer the preferred headline type. But some articles used handlettering, calligraphy or other typefaces, such as the profile of calligrapher Arnold Bank in Print 4 (1941) or Goudy Oldstyle Bold and Garamond No. 3 in Print V:4 (1948). The covers were eclectic with no set rendition of the nameplate or the tagline. They veered from type to handlettering/handwriting and back again. Among the typefaces used—with their release dates in parentheses—were Weiss Antiqua (1926) for Print 2, Lydian (1938) for Print 3, Caslon 540 (circa 1901) for Print III:2, Gill Sans (1928) for Print IV:1, Chisel (1939) for Print IV:3, Janson for Print VII:1, and Beton Bold Condensed (1931) for Print VII:2. This mix of the old and the new reflects a Catholic aesthetic.

Two covers directly referenced type: Vol. 5, No. 3 by Alex Steinweiss with an illustration of two hands composing type below the nameplate, drawn as a cascade of pieces of “Bodoni” foundry type; and Vol. 7, No. 3, “The Typewriter Type Issue,” with a cover by George A. Shealy set in Underwood Typewriter from Monotype. Steinweiss’ cover, though well done, was a cliché. Shealy’s design is both expected—given the subject of the issue—and unexpected, a fresh break from the varieties of handlettering prevailing before and after.

With Print IX:5 (1955), Leo Lionni became the co-editor of the magazine. For nearly two years he designed the covers and wrote a column titled “The Lion’s Tail.” For the first time, the covers sported a consistent nameplate. They were set in Chisel, an inline version of a 19th-century Latin typeface that had first appeared in 1946. Lionni also redesigned the interior of the magazine, choosing the Linotype version of Century Expanded for the text and Venus Bold Extended from the Bauer type foundry for the headlines. These three typefaces outlasted Lionni’s tenure.

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Print IX:5

The visual look that Lionni established for Print was part of the Modernist emphasis in graphic design at the time on uniformity, standardization and consistency. It was the first step in making the magazine appear to be in tune with the changes the industry was undergoing in the postwar era as book design, Print‘s original field, was being supplanted by corporate design and advertising.

From the beginning of 1957 until the summer of 1961, Print was designed by a series of guest art directors. Lionni’s trio of typefaces continued to be used until the beginning of 1959, but additional typefaces for article titles crept in during that period: Monotype Grotesque 215 and 216, Goudy Oldstyle, Garamond No. 3, Times Roman, Spartan, Walbaum, and even “Typewriter (Pica).” The type was provided by The Composing Room and Haber Typographers, two of the best-known type houses in post–World War II New York City.

In early 1958 Milton L. Kaye succeeded William Rudge as publisher of Print. Other than instituting the guest art director policy, there was no immediate change in the magazine’s typography. But with Print XI:5 (March/April 1958)—H.R. King as art director—variations of Trade Gothic replaced Venus Bold Extended for titles. Trade Gothic continued sporadically as the titling typeface throughout the end of the 1950s.

Print had abandoned the tagline “A Quarterly Journal of the Graphic Arts” in 1953 when it absorbed The Print Collector’s Quarterly. “America’s Graphic Design Magazine,” a new tagline, appeared with the March/April 1959 issue. For the next two years the tagline was set in a variety of typefaces, reflecting the tastes of the different guest art directors: Trade Gothic Condensed, Bodoni, Caslon, Bembo, Hellenic Wide and Baskerville Bold—still with Chisel for the nameplate.

Typographically, the most exciting period of the magazine’s history was its first two decades, when its appearance must have been a constant surprise to subscribers.

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1960 issue 4

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1960 issue 6

Changes Ahead

Beginning in 1960 several of the guest art directors began to challenge the use of Chisel for the nameplate. Some, like Designers 3 (Jack Selden, Mel Harris and Jack Golden) for Print XIV:2 and Robert M. Jones (art director at RCA Victor Records and proprietor of the Glad Hand Press) for Print XIV:3, used Chisel Wide. But others looked further afield to such typefaces as Futura (Print XIV:1) and Microgramma Bold Extended (Print XIV:4). With Print XIV:6, the final issue of 1960, Chisel was replaced by handlettering, with “Print” rendered in closely set, extended grotesque upper- and lowercase letters. The ‘r’ with a widely curved arm and matching curved tail to the ‘t’ reflect the influence of Microgramma. Remarkably, this logo, whose designer is unknown (though it may be the work of Swiss-born Ruedi Roth of Lippincott & Margulies, the guest designer of that issue), lasted until the end of the century.

The shift to a sans serif typographic nameplate for Print was an acknowledgement, though weak, that the sans serif had become the preferred typeface of modern graphic design. Chisel was an old-fashioned typeface when it was released in 1939 and it must have looked even mustier in comparison to Univers, Neue Haas Grotesk (later Helvetica) and Folio, the trio of new sans serif typefaces released by European foundries in 1957 that were slowly making their way to the United States.

Meanwhile, Century Expanded, Lionni’s text type, had remained in place until the January/February 1959 issue when guest art director Frank Mayo (Monogram Art Studio, Inc.) replaced it with Linotype Baskerville. In the following issue, co-guest art directors Lou Dorfsman and Herb Lubalin chose Linotype Bodoni for text and Bauer Bodoni Titling for the heads. Robert Benton, art director at Esquire and later an Oscar-winning film director, kept Bodoni for text but used Caslon 540 for titles—a combination that contradicts most advice on mixing old style and modern style types—in the July/August 1959 issue. For the November/December 1959 issue, William Schommer (also at Monogram Art Studio Inc.) set the text in DeVinne and the titles in a combination of Antique No. 525 from ATF and Poster Bodoni (erroneously described as Ultra Bodoni in the production notes), a look redolent of the 1890s!

The Linotype monopoly on text faces for Print was broken earlier in 1959 when Print XIII:5 was set entirely in Monotype’s Bembo. Not surprisingly, the guest art director was Hans Schneider, the head of typographic design at Lanston Monotype Machine Company. But Mergenthaler Linotype returned in 1960 with Spartan for one issue, Scotch Roman for another and Baskerville for the remainder.

Marilyn Hoffner was guest art director for the January/February 1961 issue, and co-guest art director with her husband, Al Greenberg, the art director of Gentleman’s Quarterly, for the March/April 1961 issue. She brought back Century Expanded as the text type but added Dwiggins’ Metrolite No. 2 for headings. Trade Gothic was used for the cover tagline. She became the regular art director for the remainder of the year and into the middle of 1962, with the notable exception of the May/June 1961 issue, which was designed by Rudolph de Harak.

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1961 issue 3

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1973 issue 6

De Harak dispensed with the new Print logo on the cover and set the entire issue in Standard (aka Akzidenz-Grotesk), which was the first time the magazine seemed to acknowledge the typographic movement brewing in Switzerland. Hoffner’s issues subsequently dropped Century Expanded as the body type, replacing it—owing to the limitations of Linotype—with Trade Gothic rather than Standard. German Linotype had converted Neue Haas Grotesk to Helvetica the year before, but the type would not be available in the United States until early 1965. For titling, Hoffner used what appears to be Franklin Condensed Outline from Balto Type for one issue and then Trade Gothic for the one after that.

Hoffner was pushed aside—relegated to associate designer—by Herbert Bayer for the May/June 1962 issue, but Trade Gothic continued to be the magazine’s text type.

1991_NewType2With the July/August 1962 issue Andrew Kner took over as art director, a position he held until the end of 1999. For two years guest designers—including Ivan Chermayeff, S. Neil Fujita, Olaf Leu and even Peter Max—would design covers, but not the interiors. After that, Kner was responsible for most covers. He also stabilized the nameplate and tagline.

Kner kept Standard as the tagline type and Trade Gothic as the text and headline type for over a decade. Even with a special typography issue (January/February 1964) guest edited by Aaron Burns and including Paul Rand and Jan Tschichold, this typographic look remained the same. Change came only when metal type was finally supplanted by photocomposition in the early 1970s. A hint can be seen in the use of tightly set Palatino Italic for a 1970 article title.

Philosophy in Type

The big shift came in the November/December 1973 issue as Helvetica—most likely set on the Mergenthaler V.I.P. system—appeared throughout the issue: cover tagline, masthead, table of contents, and some headlines, but not for author names and decks, which shifted from Century Expanded Italic to Garamond No. 3 Italic. This became the style for the rest of the 1970s with the heads being set in a weird variety of display typefaces (e.g. Bauer Bodoni Black, Neuland Inline, Trump Gravur, Neil Bold and ITC Souvenir) to provide visual contrast to the Helvetica body copy.

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1980

With the January/February 1980 issue, Kner abandoned Helvetica as body type in favor of Century Oldstyle. Century Expanded, the old Lionni favorite, was used for headlines, but it was a film version (most likely supplied by the Visual Graphics Corporation, the makers of the Typositor machine), tightly set in the 1970s manner. Department heads were set in Trooper Roman, an original typeface from VGC. Helvetica was relegated to a bit player, being used for the department subheads and other minor stuff. This combination lasted for just over a decade, past the introduction of the Macintosh and the initial skepticism about the quality of digital type.

Print was visually conservative throughout Kner’s tenure as art director. Most likely this was due to two things. First, Kner was not Print’s art director full time until 1990. Prior to that he simultaneously worked for other magazines and later for the advertising agency Backer & Spielvogel. In the era of paste-ups and mechanicals, he kept the look of the magazine simple in order to make production easy. Secondly, it seems that the simplicity—dullness to some— of Print’s appearance was philosophical; that Kner and editor Martin Fox didn’t want the design of the magazine to upstage the content. During their tenure together, Print was lauded for the breadth and depth of its articles, something which set it apart from Graphis and Communication Arts, its main competitors prior to the appearance of Eye magazine in 1990.

Some might argue that Print’s typography could have been visually more engaging and yet remain neutral vis a vis its content if it had employed more white space like Neue Grafik, the legendary Swiss design magazine. But such a view ignores the reality of Print as a mainstream magazine of over 100 pages per issue. More white space would have meant either more pages or shorter articles—or smaller type. More pages would have led to a higher sticker price. Shorter articles would have diminished Print’s reputation, as eventually happened to the magazine in the past decade. Smaller type was out of the question.

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1991 issue 5

A Bold Move

By the end of the 1980s digital type had proven that it was here to stay. In 1991 Print hired Sumner Stone, the former director of typography at Adobe Systems who had recently established his own boutique type foundry, to design a new text face for the magazine that would be more economical than Century Oldstyle. The result was Stone Print, which appeared for the first time in the September/October 1991 issue. Helvetica Bold continued to be used for headlines and other ancillary matter. In a nod to the growing popularity of Emigre Inc.’s typefaces, the special Computer Art & Design issue that year used Triplex (roman by Zuzana Licko and italic by John Downer).

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1994

Print inaugurated a type review column in the March/April 1994 issue with Philip B. Meggs covering Silica by Sumner Stone and Robert Bringhurst assessing Mantinia and Sophia by Matthew Carter. Two years later Print added Silica, a slab serif, to the magazine as a companion to Stone Print, completing the first total makeover since the early 1970s.

1991_NewTypeAt the time, Print’s decision to commission custom typefaces from Sumner Stone was a bold one. This idea has since become commonplace for corporations and institutions as well as magazines, but in the early 1990s it was novel. It was made possible by the speed by which digital fonts could be made and their low cost. But the idea was probably sparked not by economics but by a desire on Print’s part to be active in the digital revolution and compete, in its own way, with Émigré magazine, which was noted as much for the typefaces it showcased as for its articles.

Stone Print appears visually conservative compared to the typefaces by Zuzana Licko, Jonathan Barnbrook, Barry Deck and others associated with Émigré, but it is arguably more radical. It was not simply a new text face, but one that met a difficult mandate: to be legible yet economical. As such, it joins Century and Times Roman in the select company of workhorse typefaces.

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2005 issue 1

Into the Present

Kner retired as the art director of Print at the end of 1999 and was replaced by Steven Brower, who overhauled the entire typographic look of the magazine. Brower replaced the venerable Print logo with Myriad Bold, selected Simoncini Garamond as the text face and Myriad, especially the italic, for heads and callouts. This look persisted through his tenure as creative director, which came to an end in 2004.

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2007

In 2005 Abbott Miller of Pentagram was invited to redesign Print. He replaced Myriad as the nameplate with Gotham Rounded, a face he commissioned from Hoefler & Frere-Jones as a variant of their popular Gotham series, and chose Enschedé Font Foundry’s Lexicon for the interior—text, headlines and callouts. The tagline “America’s Graphic Design Magazine” was dropped. Kristina DiMatteo, the art director from 2006 until 2009, did a wonderful job with Miller’s typographic look, providing Print with its most sophisticated and cohesive look ever.

After DiMatteo’s departure, Print changed its typography entirely. Under the art direction of Tonya Douraghy, the beefier Galaxie Polaris Bold replaced Gotham Rounded Light for the nameplate and also became the headline font, with a condensed version being used for cover straplines and subheads inside. A serif companion, Galaxie Copernicus Medium, became the text face. A new tagline, “Redefining Design,” was introduced. Although Douraghy was eventually replaced by Ben King and King by Ronson Slagle—and despite the move of Print’s offices from New York City to Cincinnati—this typographic trio is still in use as of this writing.

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2011 issue 4

However, in 2011, then-editor Aaron Kenedi returned to the 1950s idea of rotating guest designers to handle a special section of each issue (with the exception of the Regional Design Annual). The designers, in order, were Project Projects, Counterspace, Kokoro & Moi, Spin and Metahaven. They used a wild variety of typefaces, most of them recent designs. For instance, Project Projects employed LL Brown by Aurèle Sack, Platform Bold by Berton Hasebe, Plan Grotesk Stencil by Nikola Djurek, Boutique Engraved by Timo Gaessner, Neue Haas Grotesk Display by Christian Schwartz, PDU Skeleton by Dries Wiewauters, and Aero by Chester Jenkins and Jeremy Mickel for titles; Lyon Display by Kai Bernau for subheads; Kettler by Eric Olson for sidebars; and Tiempos Text by Kris Sowersby for text. And Kokoro & Moi employed Ancient Greek Regular, Presley Press Regular and 3D for titles, and Singularity for body copy. In contrast, Spin, a design firm whose principles are from an older generation, stuck with pre-digital typefaces: Akzidenz Medium and ITC Clearface for articles (headline, callouts and text) and Letter Gothic for captions.

Kenedi deserves credit for trying to shake things up at Print and make it more visually in tune with 21st century design and with the explosive growth of fonts, but most of the special guest sections, in my view, were poorly done. The attempts to be experimental seemed forced. I was among many readers who especially loathed the Kokoro & Moi issue.

In a world awash in fonts—Allan Haley of Monotype recently claimed there are now over 230,000 of them—the notion of sticking to a handful of typefaces to create a visual identity for a magazine devoted to design seems to be quaint, a throwback to the 1960s. On the other hand, doing so is still a means to stand out, to provide some stability amidst the chaos. Print, by choosing to use Chester Jenkins’ and Kris Sowersby’s Galaxie Copernicus and Jenkins’ Galaxie Polaris, has managed to appear both established and contemporary at the same time. How long will this last?

 



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One thought on “The History of Typography in Print Magazine

  1. Kathleen@wogd

    Dear Paul,
    Thank you for this thorough overview of Print Magazine’s typographic history. Is there a place where the Print covers are archived? I’m especially interested in seeing more of Marilyn Hoffner’s work before her replacement by Bayer. I’ve only been able to track down two covers she worked on: January/February 1961; and March/April 1961, with Patrick Tilley artwork.

    Anyone with additional information is invited to email info@womenofgraphicdesign.org.

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