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WORKSHOP: Letter Design & the Influence of the Pen: Calligraphy into Type and Back Again

September 27, 2014 @ 8:30 am - September 28, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

This course will look at the parallel worlds of type and calligraphy (hand pen lettering), how they have influenced each other over the centuries and are again today. From Gutenberg to Jenson to Aldus, 15th & 16th century early type was heavily influenced by pen lettering of the age, and over the centuries some of the best calligraphers have been involved with typeface production, from Schöffer, Arrighi, Neudørffer to Gill, Trump, Zapf, and on up to today.

In this spirit, learn fundamental underlying proportions of classical capitals, pen written and early types including Textura, Roman and Italic. Fleshing them out with the broad edged pen reveals how the tool can naturally distribute and modulate weights throughout the shapes. This can open up possibilities for letter design not possible by drawing outlines alone. We can use the pen to analyze and learn more about pen related types, how axis relates to pen angle, how the broad edged pen line differs from the pressured pen swelled line and what types are influenced by either – eg Venetian vs Modern etc. We will go back and forth between written and drawn lettering, and focus on the optical balance of the volumes inside and between forms. Harmony of spacing is inseparable from the linear shapes.

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Julian Waters is an internationally renowned lettering designer who has worked for many important clients including U.S. Postal Service, National Geographic, and numerous agencies, publishers and memorials. He earned much from his parents, calligrapher Sheila and bookbinder/conservator Peter, but he also studied extensively with legendary calligrapher and type designer Hermann Zapf, starting in 1979. Zapf became a friend and important mentor to Julian, asking him to substitute teach Zapf’s 2-week masterclass in 1984 at age 27 and then succeed Zapf at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1990. His typefaces include Adobe Waters Titling Pro family and “ThJefferson” for Monticello. In the 1990s, Waters taught typography at Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. In 2001, he was invited to be part of the seminal “Zapfest” exhibition, San Francisco. 

In 1997 he was The Rubenstein at Sidwell Friends school, Wahsington DC. Waters has taught over 100 workshops for lettering professionals in USA, Canada, England, Belgium, Norway, Iceland, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, and like Sheila he designs and prints his own archival giclée prints for sale. In 2003 his publication “From Rough Sketch to Final Art” was issued by the Washington Calligraphers Guild. It is now out of print, but “Sheila Waters at 80”, the lavishly illustrated volume he compiled and designed about Sheila’s life and work is available. Julian has taught several times at Cooper Union, NY and Wells College, NY, including digital font design. He has taught several series of 2, 3 and 4 weekends on various lettering subjects around the US. These series which offer more depth compared with the usual single weekend format. Awards include Type Directors Club, Print, Graphis, and his work is widely published.


September 27, 2014 @ 8:30 am
September 28, 2014 @ 4:30 pm
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Type Directors Club
t: 212-633-8943