Printer raising funds for new foundry type.

eliason's picture

Type designer/printer Russell Marat has launched a Kickstarter fundraising effort to have two new type designs engraved and produced in metal by the Dale Guild.

The page includes interesting text and videos explaining the project.

Of most interest (both intrinsically, and because it serves to justify the expense of the project) was Marat's discussion of how composing foundry type differs from printing letterpress with polymer plates (which in the end can look indistinguishable, I suppose). He talked about the spontaneity available to the type composer that is lost in the plate process.

Nick Shinn's picture

In order to make new private press books in the twenty-first century we need to have new typefaces.

While Maret may be jaded with legacy foundry types, the “new” types he proposes conform to an antiquarian aesthetic.

Is that the essential nature of private press practice, the best and only way it can maintain a viable niche?

Would it not be possible to address contemporary design issues with a non-retro metal face — a sans serif, for instance?

eliason's picture

Excellent questions!

My suspicion is that this kind of project is teetering on the edge of viability as it is, and design decisions that compromise or cancel out the "old-school" appeal would tip it off the edge.

eliason's picture

...Update: looks like Marat's project found its $25k funding at Kickstarter in under eight hours! Maybe that suggests that there could be a more capacious niche than I suspected after all. Or maybe it just confirms that his aesthetic is spot on for the niche.

David Vereschagin's picture

I'm with Nick Shinn on this. It's dismaying that Russel Marat is looking 500 years back to design letterpress type appropriate for the early 21st century. Much more interesting would be coming up with faces that owe little or nothing to the sensibilities of the 16th century. But, yes, his aesthetic is spot on for the private letterpress niche, alas.


hrant's picture

Just my 2 cents: I've seen Russel talk (at the incredible Clark
library) and I was more impressed than I ever remember being
with a designer. He has a touch of genius, and I never use that
word lightly. So although it behooves me to think critically about
his design decisions, I have to take into account that he's likely
to be exactly where he needs to be with this.


Nick Shinn's picture

While I would be more interested in less retro type designs, I can’t fault Maret for knowing his market.

Fine books is not the only market for letterpress work today—there is also the whole area of special printing processes (letterpress, embossing, die-cutting, foil stamping, engraving, etc.) for high-end and/or arts sector job work.

I wonder if P22’s Stern (Jim Rimmer) has found much use for that sort of thing.

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