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.

It's Not Nostalgia: The Skill and Vision of Lowell Bodger

Lowell Bodger, who died this past January 26 at the age of 65, was a typographer, letterpress printer, planetary cartographer, and experimental filmmaker. A selection of his films (Wave Symmetries, 1971; Favorable Conditions, 1973; A Recent Animation, 1974 and others) will be shown tomorrow, September 16, at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue, New...

Gotham and Moderne Sans Serifs

The letters that inspired Gotham are not unique to Manhattan or New York City. Similar, though not entirely identical, capitals can be found in cities across America and Europe. Beginning in the mid-1920s, they appeared first in posters (see the work of A.M. Cassandre, E. McKnight Kauffer, and Austin Cooper) and then in signage—from...

Ten Typefaces of the Decade

In 1998, in the middle of millennium-induced listmaking mania, I wrote a short piece for Letterspace, the newsletter of the Type Directors Club, on the “top 100 typefaces of all time.” The list was based on the historical, technological, or theoretical importance of each design rather than its aesthetics. Initially, the list caused barely...

Acute Priori, Ctd

Marcus Leis Allion, co-designer of Acute Priori, reviewed in Hot Type (June 2010), has written to point out that the design was inspired more by the abstract/mathematical work of Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd (b. 1915) than by the illustrative work of M.C. Escher. And here’s more information on Reutersvärd, the “father of impossible figures”...

Priori Acute: A Twist on 19th Century Display Types

    Priori Acute Serif Designers: Jonathan Barnbrook, Marcus Leis Allion  Foundry: Emigre Fonts  Year: 2009  Formats: OpenType, Postscript Jonathan Barnbrook, one of the “bad boys” of type design in the 1990s, has mellowed. Priori Acute Serif, his newest font, designed with Marcus Leis Allion, does not have a provocative name, nor is it...

Lettercentric: Russell Maret’s Books on Italian Lettering

Medieval in Padua (2008)  Published by Russell Maret New York: Swan & Hoop, 2008 44 pp. limited to 226 copies $250 8 colors; photos; letterpress http://russellmaret.com/ Russell Maret, a New York-based private press printer who has been making letterforms his subject over the past decade, has published four recent books that explore letterforms that...

Lettercentric: Type as Writing

— Type has always aspired to achieve the status of writing—to emulate its freedom, fluidity, and diversity of forms. In the past, type makers have tried to account for the variety in individual handwriting by allowing for a certain amount of randomness in their designs. But this approach is being challenged: In a case...

Review: Ten Years of Tipoteca Italiana

— Paul Shaw teaches calligraphy at Parsons School of Design and the history of type at the School of Visual Arts. This June, he is leading a lettering tour of Italy that will include a weekend at the Tipoteca. For more information, contact him at paulshaw@nyc.rr.com       A Story with Character: Ten...

Letter Centric: Thoughts on Spencerian Script

— A year ago, in an Eye magazine feature entitled “Cult of the Squiggly,” Steven Heller complained about the overabundance of embellishment in design “spiraling out of control.” He has now jumped on the bandwagon as the co-author with Gail Anderson of New Ornamental Type: Decorative Lettering in the Digital Age (New York: Thames &...

Remaindered: Typography Papers 8

— Typography Papers, edited, designed and “prepared for press” by the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading in England, has always been a somewhat misnamed journal, considering that it has rarely stuck to the subject of typography. The eighth and most recent issue, entitled Modern Typography in Britain, is...