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Cover: The letter ‘R’ , from the word ‘AMERICA’. Westvaco 1953, No.192. Design by Bradbury Thomson


Editorial Editorial team

Elsewhere in Baseline Bruce Brown is concerned that young students of design must somehow learn to create designs that will ‘speak for themselves without the need of a support text’; designs that will be there to be seen and enjoyed. He argues that Eric Gill created images with a quality greater than their mere form – a quality that is there to be seen.

In the typographic world how can we learn to see in a clear way and to avoid, to continue Browns’s theme for a moment, the pursuit of a ‘knowledge of stock answers, a method (merely) of scouring points’? We want Baseline to be a mirror, held up to the wide spectrum of typography – wider today than at any other time in history with digital, desktop typesetting nestling alongside a metal setting revival in the design house.

Can we set pointers to ‘Quality’ without being the unwitting providers of stock answers to arm the next generation of advertising typographers? An English lecturer in design recently described Baseline as ‘dangerous’ seeing it as a limited typographic palette for his students but one of the very few and therefore influential in an out-of-proportion way.

No we can’t avoid these dangers. We cannot provide a sounding board for typographic innovation without it occasionally becoming a soapbox. We simply have to see that there are no glib answers. It is as wrong to assume that all that is ‘new’ or that is greeted with immediate enthusiasm is necessarily good as it is to assume that all that is old, or came from a foundry in the 1930’s is of lasting value.

We work from the premise that you have to be informed to see clearly, to be able to separate the innovative from the exploitative. In a cross section of views those with the narrowest view are often the most valuable and, in the short term, persuasive.

The advance of design and technology in all areas of graphics produces a conservative backlash, naive enthusiasm and innovation, the imaginative application of technology and progress. Baseline sets out to report these reaction and to promote progress.

So, what do we say to the young student of design as he or she learns to see? Perhaps, look at typography objectively, appreciate past work by reading about it, if you are a practitioner – experiment. Try to understand what technology is trying to achieve in order to take full advantage of it.

Editorial team

New work Editorial team
Tibor’s Typo Tips (Tibor Kalman) Tibor Kalman
Interrelations between Calligraphy and Typography
(Werner Schneider and Max Caflish)
Editorial team
Bradbury Thompson Steven Heller
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A graphic designer’s influence is not measured by how many acolytes mimic his style – a style is ephemeral – nor by how many awards he has won – awards are only signposts – but rather by what he and he alone has substantively contributed to the visual language. Since what determines substance is relative, the criterion might be based on the question: if said designer had never made his contribution, would the field be better, worse or the same? To answer this, specifically let’s take a young man from Topeka, Kansas, by the name of Bradbury Thompson. Had he not quit his job designing high school yearbooks, and had he not ventured to New York City in the late 1930’s, some very significant portions of American graphic design history would never have been written. Indeed, if not for Bradbury Thompson a very important publication, Westvaco Inspirations, might never have become a bibelot of design. If all Thompson ever did during his over fifty year career was design, edit and supervise 60 issues of this periodic journal of modern layout and typography, including impressive issues devoted to ‘Type as a Toy’, ‘Primitive Art as Modern Design’, and the phonetic ‘Monalalphabet’, his place as a pioneer of American graphic design would be guaranteed. His contributions, however, are numerous and varied…

Steven Heller

Times Roman through the generations Editorial team
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The reprint of Peggy Lang’s ‘Times Roman: A Revaluation’ in Baseline 10 has stimulated much comment. Originally published in Alphabet and Image in 1945 that assessment of the success of the type was of necessity a snapshot and could only chart thirteen years development.

Reference to Monotype Typography, as Redhill, the division of the Monotype Corporation responsible for the company’s type, allows us to chart the progress of this most ubiquitous typeface family right up to the present day. Although one would expect to find intensive work on the technical conversion of the typefaces into the latest digital formats, it is perhaps more surprising to discover, alongside the technical conversion, a brand new release of Times Medium, based on an entirely new set of drawings from Monotype’s type studio…

Editorial team

Punk Typography Art Chantry
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Little has been acknowledged by the design industry of the influences of the Punk era. Yet the radicalism, which drove primarily fashion and the music business in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, helped shape the culture of today. The Punk movement in graphics and typography remains only as a memory of evocative and provocative symbols and images. The immense power and vitality of those images must surely be seen as the last major influence on mainstream graphic design. It is probably worth nothing that today’s more influential young designers were students of the Punk era, and as their influence on the design scene prevails, the driving force which shaped Punk, while heavily watered down, will increasingly make its mark…

Art Chantry

Phil Baines Editorial team
Emigré Editorial team
Star ! Editorial team
Designer Spectacles Prof. Bruce Brown
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Design is not a commodity; it is the extension of life and an inevitable consequence of our accumulated experiences. It is the ‘lens’ through which we will filter the random experiences and visual clutter of our environment, to create both a pattern of order and a sense of identity for ourselves. It is fundamental, valuable and powerful – either the life-blood or the poison that courses through the complex networks of our daily existence…

Prof. Bruce Brown

Desert Island Type – Dr. Herbert Spencer Dr. Herbert Spencer
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In each issue of Baseline, we invite a well-known artist/designer (not necessarily a typographer) to choose his or her favourite pieces of typography to take with them on to a desert island. This issue it is the turn of Herbert Spencer RDI DrRCA who is probably best known as the author of the typographers’ bible, Pioneers of Modern Typography (Published by Lund Humphries)…

Dr. Herbert Spencer

Reviews Editorial team

©1989 Published by Esselte Letraset Ltd.