Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

RE: [PPLetterpress] Typefaces for letterpress

Expand Messages
  • Ed Inman
    ... A traditionalist might argue that older faces common in metal type (Garamond, Caslon, Baskerville, Bodoni, Futura, etc.) are best for letterpress. They
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 22 10:51 AM
    • 0 Attachment
      > [Original Message]
      > From: Kim Vanderheiden <paintedtongue@...>
      > I'm curious to know if anyone can give a more general sense
      > of what characteristics (rather than specific fonts) work well or
      > poorly. Is their performance really specific to letterpress, or is it a
      > more general design quality? If it is specific to letterpress, what
      > part of the printing process reacts poorly with what characteristic of
      > the type?

      A traditionalist might argue that older faces common in metal type
      (Garamond, Caslon, Baskerville, Bodoni, Futura, etc.) are best for
      letterpress. They may be correct to a point, although in the heyday of
      typecasting many of the display foundry faces rivaled today's most garish
      digital faces for their ornamentation.

      It might also be argued that some of today's newer faces like Meta scream
      "digital" just by looking at them--at least if you are a typographer or
      graphic designer. So you may want to avoid some of these if traditional is
      the look you want.

      Aside from those general conclusions, I can't really think of any reason
      one typeface would look better printed by one process versus another. I
      think it all just comes down to selecting the right typeface for the job.

      Interesting question, though...

      Ed
    • Gerald Lange
      Kim I think a book could be written to adequately answer your question. And, I m working on it!!! But here is a short response. If you look at typeface design
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 22 11:08 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        Kim

        I think a book could be written to adequately answer your question.
        And, I'm working on it!!! But here is a short response. If you look at
        typeface design as being technologically based, what works for one
        technique doesn't work well for another.

        What we call letterpress (mechanical writing) would initially have
        been an attempt to capture the organic nature of the handwritten word.
        Recent discoveries regarding the way punches and casting may have been
        used by the early printers would seem to lend legitimacy to this.
        Eventually, with the need no longer there, mechanical letter design
        would begin to follow a more standardized approach better suited to
        the technology of its actual production. While it could be said that
        punchcutters did not consciously design a face for letterpress they
        were obviously aware of what would work and what would not.

        Offset lithography required a different method for design and a
        different need with the printing method. Devices like thorns are often
        seen in photo-offset where they were not used in letterpress. Ink
        traps, which did show up in later metal faces, were as well not
        uncommonly used in photo-offset faces. The optical variances in
        generating photofilm and the differing printing application required a
        different technical approach to typeface design.

        In printing history, the term "type designer" shows up quite late.
        Typeface design aesthetic is actually a relatively new phenomenon in
        the sense that it could be seen as divorced from technical needs. But
        it is not and I think the digital realm has created its own history
        and is a bit misleading. But, essentially, a face that is designed to
        perform well digitally is not the same as one that was designed for
        letterpress or for photo-offset.

        Specifically, letterpress presents two important technical differences
        from other printing. Impression and accumulating ink gain. Digital
        typefaces don't have to deal with this and most recreations of metal
        faces have been altered for the digital environment. Those that
        haven't, such as the Lanston faces, don't really work that well in
        many digital applications, as they are too structurally weak and
        spindly. They generally convert well to letterpress for this very reason.

        So, the search for the ideal digital typeface has less to do with its
        design than certain technical attributes to that design that will
        allow it to perform well on the letterpress printed page.

        Have I shed any light in this furtive response or just mucked up the
        waters even more?

        Gerald Lange



        > Regarding the question of which typefaces are good for letterpress. . .
        > Can I go out on a limb and ask something that may be incredibly naive?
        > In my experience, I would say most typefaces work fine for letterpress.
        > Those that I would say don't work for letterpress fail because they are
        > poorly designed to begin with, and wouldn't work well for any kind of
        > publishing. I'm curious to know if anyone can give a more general sense
        > of what characteristics (rather than specific fonts) work well or
        > poorly. Is their performance really specific to letterpress, or is it a
        > more general design quality? If it is specific to letterpress, what
        > part of the printing process reacts poorly with what characteristic of
        > the type?
        >
        > Thanks!
        >
        > Kim Vanderheiden
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.