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.

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...

Diotima Classic

Diotima has become a forgotten face in the digital age. Originally made as foundry type by D. Stempel AG, it was a light design that, without the aid of ink squeeze, seemed too delicate when converted to photo and then to digital type. Its roman is wider than normal, while its italic is narrower...

Stereo Types

You might see it every day and never notice, but there it is, on your takeout box of Chinese food, on your morning coffee cup, or on the cover of a favorite book or album: “ethnic type,” lettering or type that suggests the culture of a specific ethnic or religious group. Many designers and...

Empire State Building

Just as Trajan signifies the Roman Empire, Broadway signifies Art Deco. The typeface—designed by Morris Fuller Benton for American Type Founders in 1927—is authentic, but it has become a cliché, used by numerous landlords to tart up their Art Deco–era buildings. This mindless approach to signage is now being challenged. The Empire State Building...

Flexion

In the late ’70s, John Langdon discovered that he could manipulate letters to form words that read the same from the right and the left. He has since carved out a strong career as a designer and letterer specializing in ambigrams, as the Janus-faced words are called, and he collected the best of his...

Metroscript

The typefaces issued by Alphabet Soup, the new foundry established by veteran lettering artist Michael Doret, are not your run-of-the-mill fonts. Each of the three initial offerings—Orion, Metroscript (above), and PowerStation—consists of more than a character set. PowerStation, based on Doret’s work for the Hershey’s flagship store in Times Square, is a sturdy, faceted...

Eurostile Next

In 1952, the Nebiolo foundry in Turin, Italy, released Microgramma, an unusual sans serif. A titling typeface (which thus had no lowercase), it was designed by Alessandro Butti (1893–1959), the foundry’s type director, with the assistance of Aldo Novarese (1920–95). Ten years later, Novarese revisited Microgramma. He created a lowercase, and reduced the size...