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.

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 Originally made as foundry type by D. Stempel AG, it was a light design that, without the aid of ink squeeze, seemed too delicate when converted to photo and then to digital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...

Graphic Modernism exhibition review

Avant-garde design between the world wars has been endlessly studied, but despite the many monographs, books, catalogues and exhibitions, “Graphic Modernism from the Baltic to the Balkans 1910–1935,” an exhibition at the New York Public Library with an accompanying catalogue, proves there is still much to be discovered. Focusing on avant-garde design in countries...

Arno Pro

Designing type can be like searching for gold: Some type designers treat past art movements or pop-culture trends as streams for nugget-panning. Once a particular stream is depleted, they move on to another one. Other designers find a rich vein of typographic or calligraphic history and mine it over and over. Robert Slimbach, a...

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Liber

Liber is yet another French Oldstyle face, but not—thankfully—one based on the work of Garamond or Granjon. Instead, it is derived from the typeface in a 1574 book by Venetian printer Giordano Ziletti. Liber’s designer is Daniel Lanz of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, an engraver who has taken up type design in recent years. Lanz’s familiarity...

Dangerous Curves

  Review by Paul Shaw — This is the fourth such book on logos and fonts that Young has produced since 1993, and the design and approach are familiar: a short description of the client and design brief followed first by small pencil sketches and then by enlargements of selected examples—and, if the design...

FB Juliana

Sem Hartz (1912-95) was overshadowed in his lifetime by Jan van Krimpen, his colleague at printer and type foundry Joh. Enschedé en Zonen in the Netherlands. Unlike Van Krimpen, Hartz was principally an engraver of banknotes and stamps rather than a type designer, and neither of his two faces attained great popularity. Emergo, which...

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...