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Cover: Expending in God’s Cause. Detail of painting by Ahmed Moustafa


Editorial Hans Dieter Reichert & Mike Daines

The view that technology replaces craft, especially in our world of typographics, has become a cliché. And the view that those enveloped, or at least threatened, by technology seek refuge in crafts, at least at the hobbyist level, is supported by statistics which include over - subscribed classes in bookbinding and calligraphy, around the globe.

Craft implies human skill and many strive to retain this element against odds, which seem sometimes overwhelming. This effort cultivates some wonderful hybrids – the handcrafted bitmap, for example.

But the underlying facts are that real commissions for the crafts of calligraphy and architectural lettering continue to decline in number, consigning the aspirations of many to the picture frames on their studio wall or to private collections. Encouragingly, Margot Coatts’ article in this issue reminds us that there is always a demand for truly outstanding letterers. From the sensual mixture of letters and materials in the pieces by Ewan Clayton, Incisive Letterwork and Pat Russell we move on to discover a heady mix of calligraphic art and its religious foundations, in the work of Arab artist Ahmed Moustafa.

Bruno Maag provides an insight into the latest technology for those ‘crafted bitmaps’, used in anti-aliased fonts, offering a higher level of typographic authenticity, and, more importantly, legibility, to type on screens.

Ian McLaren’s illustrated guide to the many applications of Harry Beck’s map for London Underground, from the inspired to the outlandish, lightens the mood; while Christian Küster’s article on the 1930s Dutch architectural magazine Wendingen gives us the opportunity to publish hitherto rarely seen material.

Our lexicon reaches C-D, and a profile of type designer Aldo Novarese completes an eclectic and rich collection of articles, which continue to reflect the almost limitless world of lettering, type and typographic design, still not overwhelmed by technology.

Hans Dieter Reichert & Mike Daines

Lexicon of Typematters (C–D) Editorial team
Wendingen 1918–30, 2–Dimensional Architecture Christian Küsters
Ahmed Moustafa Mike Daines
Don’t ‘U’ turn – new problems demand better solutions Bruno Maag
Aldo Novarese 1990–95 Mike Daines
Approaches to Materials in Lettering Margot Coatts
Image from article Image from article Image from article

The British Crafts Council's exhibition Codes and Messages, selected by Ewan Clayton and now touring the United Kingdom, includes the work of over 50 letterers in all media from stone to papier maché, textile to brick, and of course, lettering on paper – written, cut, painted and printed. The exhibitors range in attitude, as in medium; some letterers work almost entirely to commission in the traditional craft spheres, others operate in the graphic design, publishing or film areas, yet more work experimentally on personal ideas which are normally seen only as exhibition pieces…

Margot Coatts

Harry Beck Would Have Been Amused
(Commercialisation of London’s Underground map)
Prof. Ian McLaren
Image from article Image from article Image from article Image from article Image from article

When I was a student at what was then the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts, one of our tutors was Harry Beck. During 1958-59 I attended his course on the history of type. The majority of my colleagues and I were intrigued by his signature on the London Underground diagram; but he was extremely reticent about his part in this, which we callow youths found excessively modest, and even a little perverse. He deftly and with great charm deflected our constant probing. This only added to the allure of the mystery; and we sensed that much remained to be said…

Prof. Ian McLaren

Opinions, Reviews Bill Johnstone

©1996 Bradbourne Publishing Ltd.