Alan Kitching’s Full Court Letterpress
As part of the AIGA Centennial events, Monotype is working with London’s Alan Kitching, typographer, designer and letterpress practitioner, on a poster exhibit in New York kicking off at AIGA on May 1. (The Typography Workshop in London and Kitching’s studio have the largest collection of wood and metal type in Western Europe.)
Kitching has created five limited-edition letterpress printed posters (Colorplan Ebony 270gsm and Colorplan Pristine White 100gsm) printed by Advanced Graphics London and PurePrint Group Ltd., celebrating five legendary designers from the U.S. England and Switzerland:
• F H K Henrion worked for clients including the BBC, Shell, BP, the UN, USF, Guinness. • Tom Eckersley worked for Shell-Mex; British Petroleum; the British Broadcasting Corporation; London Transport; the Ministry of Information (from 1946 the Central Office of Information); Gillette; The United Nations Children’s Fund. • Abram Games worked for Financial Times, Guinness, BA, Transport for London, UN and Penguin. • Josef Muller-Brockmann “led the charge” and brought the De Stijl, Constructivist and Bauhaus movements to Modern practice. He was the IBM lead graphic designer in Europe. • Paul Rand needs little introduction.
Based on Kitching’s experience working with these designers, he has designed a suite of posters design based on their type choice and their color preferences. He has printed every one individually and those are going to be used to create 800 limited-edition silkscreen copies.
Monotype is overseeing the work. The creative team includes: Art Direction & Design: Alan Kitching with Daniel Chehade. Designer biographies: John L Walters. Publisher: Monotype.
For more about the project the collaborators chimed in:
What was the impetus in celebrating these five designers?
Alan Kitching: The impetus behind this work was the fact that all these five designers were born in the same year. This was pointed out by Naomi Games in her book Abram Games. I have always admired their work, and in fact they all played some part in my development as a designer.
What are the benefits of screen-printing and letterpress for these designs? Why not just adapt it to the new medium?
Alan Kitching: I used letterpress because that is the medium I use. For me, it’s only a means to an end. The image obtained is unique. These five designers were unique.
How long did it take to design and print the collection?
James Fooks-Bale, creative director for Monotype: Alan and I discussed ideas behind this collaboration at Pencil to Pixel in NY in May 2013, since then many discussions have taken place on what this project could have become. We finally settled on Naomi’s and Alan’s idea to celebrate the centennial of five great designers in November of 2013.
James Fooks-Bale: We’re producing a limited set of 200 prints for each designer which will all be signed and numbered by Alan. In addition, we’re producing a version which fits into a sleeve which, in turn, goes with the Monotype Collections series, there will be only 600 of those produced which include more copy content and photos of the designers in their home or studio. The originals will be on display at the Century: 100 Years of Type in Design which opens at the AIGA space in NY on the 1st of May.
What was so special about these five legendary designers and the typefaces they used? What distinguished their type/design choices from other designers?
Alan Kitching: What distinguishes these designers is their intelligent and witty use of the type and image which they combined together to make a powerful graphic statement.