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ATypI 08 St Petersburg

Speaker details

John Downer

Sign painter and type designer Voltage Inc | USA

John Downer is a sign painter and type designer who resides in Iowa City. He occasionally writes essays about hand lettering and type history. His debut text typeface was Bitstream Iowan Old Style, published in 1991, with additions in 2001. Some of his other typefaces have been released by Emigre, The Font Bureau, House Industries and Design Lab.

Presentation details


Workshop W03 | Room W1
Thursday 18 September | 09:30 – 13:00

Theme Workshop | Duration: 210 minutes

The workshop is open to all participants of the main conference. The maximum number of workshop participants is 20. You must register to the workshop during your main conference registration. Participants are requested to bring 15 USD in cash to the workshop to pay the “supplies fee” for the pencils, pens, ink and paper. Considering the ATypI/2008 conference theme, I propose a demonstration that will include both old and new sign painting techniques. In former times, sign painters didn't have all of the timesaving materials and tools we have today. Contemporary sign painters use Scotch™ tape to mask the baseline and cap line, and paint rollers to cover vast areas. Rollers can also be used to achieve very soft blending of colors. Workshop attendees will be given a chronology of paint application methods, as well as a chance to see letters appear spontaneously. Latin & Cyrillic examples will be created on the spot, to illustrate that brush-painted letters can serve as inspiration for original typefaces -- all without preying on existing typefaces to create new ones. (This point ties in well with the topic of my talk at the conference). Participants will also be afforded a chance to try their hands at rendering letterforms with a lettering brush.

Revivals revisited

Session A02 | Room Palace A
Friday 19 September | 11:00 – 11:50

Theme Revivals | Duration: 50 minutes

To understand the intrinsic differences between plagiarism (normally regarded as a bad thing) and preservation (normally regarded as a good thing), we should look at various means by which newer typefaces are derived from older ones. There are indeed many approaches. Outlining them can be helpful in considering the practices surrounding revivalism in general: revivals, recuttings, reclamations — anthologies, surveys, remixes — knockoffs, clones, counterfeits — “me too”, copycat — reconsiderations, reevaluations, reinterpretations — homages, tributes, paeans — encores, sequels, reprises — extensions, spinoffs, variations — caricatures, parodies, burlesques.

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