Author Archives: Paul Shaw

About Paul Shaw

Paul Shaw is a letter designer and design historian. He is the recipient of many design awards as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution. He currently teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and the School of Visual Arts.

Not My Type

This is the second time I have tried to write a review of Just My Type. It is a frustrating book—warm and friendly on the surface but obnoxious underneath. The first time, I methodically tore it to pieces in my blue-pencil style, pointing out its deficiencies in niggling detail. When I was done, I...

Un Buon Tempo at Il Buon Tempo: A Visit to Lucio Passerini in Milano

I spent the first weekend of July as the houseguest of Lucio Passerini, Milanese woodcut artist and letterpress printer. On the morning of July 2 we took a leisurely walk a mile or so to his studio, Il Buon Tempo on Via Longhi. The weather was sunny but cool, unusual for Milano in the...

Akira Kobayashi, Akko Pro, and Akko Rounded Pro

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Akira Kobayashi’s tenure as type director at Linotype. Born in Tokyo in 1960, he studied graphic design at Musashino Art University. Kobayashi began his career in type design at Sha-Ken Co., Ltd., a manufacturer of phototypesetting machines just at the cusp of the digital age. In the...

Sixty Years of Book Design at St. Gallen, Switzerland

Fifty-five years ago Swiss design was at a crossroads. In “Über Typographie” (Schweizer Graphische Mitteilungen, April 1946) Max Bill urged Swiss designers to follow “‘asymmetric’ or organically formed typography”, to reject “the conventional text-image of axial symmetry” and the retreat into historicism that it represented. Jan Tschichold’s rebuttal, “Glaube und Wirklichkeit” (SGM, June 1946), repeated...

Flawed Typefaces

What constitutes a flawed typeface? For this article it is defined as a typeface that is perfectly fine—except for one nagging aspect, usually a single character. A flawed typeface is one that either you avoid using entirely because of this lone defect; or one that you use sparingly—and only then, after some alteration of...

Take the SVA Train: Louise Fili's Homage to New York's Subway Signage

For decades the School of Visual Arts in New York City has been famous for the unstinting excellence of its promotional efforts. The most visible of these works have been subway posters notable for their blend of memorable copywriting and arresting imagery. The latest example is an eye-catching simulation of the mosaics that are...

An Interview With Matthew Carter

Last fall the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named Matthew Carter a Foundation Fellow. The so-called “genius grant” simply confirmed what those of us in the small design world already knew. That Carter is one of the most important type designers of the past half-century. He was born into the world of type design in...

Overlooked Typefaces

The end of the year / beginning of the year list-making spirit is still with me and so here I go with another typeface list. This one is devoted to typefaces that have been overlooked and/or underappreciated. There are two parts to the list: 1. typefaces available digitally that are not used as much...

Is There a New Leading Man in Hollywood?

Since the mid-1990s Trajan has been the favored typeface for Hollywood movie advertisements and posters. But within the last two months a small batch of movies have appeared that emphatically reject the respected Roman Imperial capitals. The new face in town is Gotham from Hoefler & Frere-Jones. At the moment it can be found...

The Top 10 Graphic Design Events of 2010

I have not had time to elucidate my reasons for each of these selections so feel free to contest them. (I have left out items already included on the top 10 type events such as the Roger Excoffon book and the U&lc PDFs that could also fit here.) But here they are: Vignelli Center...