A July like any other in Reading

Ribbon ceremony

Ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Art Department gallery.

The Department of Typography did not get the memo that July is supposed to be a quiet period. We kicked off the month by hosting the KSBDA International Invitational Exhibition, its first stop after Seoul, and on its way to Katowice, Poland. The exhibition, attended by members of the current Board of the KSBDA and several past presidents, was held with the kind collaboration of the Department of Art. The visitors had the opportunity to examine material from the Collections in Typography, and discuss their use in teaching.

Michael Twyman at ICTVC

Professor Michael Twyman delivering the opening keynote at Thessaloniki.

The second week of July saw many staff, research students, and postgraduates fly off to Thessaloniki, to take part in the 6th ICTVC conference. The triennial event is spearheaded by alumnus Dr Klimis Mastoridis and aligns closely to the research strands of the Department. Several members delivered papers, and Emeritus Professor Michael Twyman delivered the opening keynote.

Monotype celebration

Celebrating the Monotype Studentship, from left: senior designer Malou Verlomme, Type Director Dr Nadine Chahine, the VC Sir David Bell, and Head of Department Professor Eric Kindel.

Back in Reading, we marked the tenth anniversary of the Monotype Studentship, a substantial initiative in funding support for our postgraduates. The Studentship is only one element of our deep collaboration with the company, which stretches from research support to technical training.

Over the two last weeks of July the Department was taken over by the annual TDi summer course. The international cohort (with participants from Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Dubai, India, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, UAE, USA, as well as European countries and the UK) spent long days in sessions led by several members of the Department’s staff and student community, working in our studios, with material from the Department Collections, and personal staff collections. Through lectures and seminars, to hands-on sessions with archival material and letterpress equipment, the TDi provides a unique distillation of key areas of the Department’s narrative on typography and typeface design. Marek Jeziorek documented this year’s course in several albums, starting here.

Typography in Beijing

TDC opening

Soon after the conclusion of a successful visit by students from CAFA to Typography in 2015, we commenced working on a reciprocal visit to Beijing. As it happened, several strands of activity came together to make this an exceptionally productive visit. A short report follows below; the local organisers, led by CAFA teacher Liu Zhao, recorded all presentations for translation and reposting on the Chinese social networks, and microblogged almost every minute of the trip to a jaw-droppingly numerous online audience.

Opening the visit with a more formal occasion, Gerry Leonidas and José Scaglione (Reading alumnus and ATypI president) took part in the judging of the 8th Founder Type Design Competition. The event, held every two years, included for the first time Latin typefaces by Chinese designers. The next day, the winners were announced in the National Centre of the Performing Arts (the “Egg”), together with the opening of the TDC61 exhibition, the Chinese leg of the global tour of the annual design competition; and the opening of the “Chinese Type Modern 1919–1955” exhibition with material from the archives of Founder Electronics on the transition of Chinese type-making across technologies – with clear influence by Reading’s TDi 2015 course, in which Founder staff participated in.

Font Forum line-up

Font Forum conference

The exhibition and competition awards served as the opening events for the two-day Font Forum, a conference on typeface design with speakers from China, Japan, and Europe, to packed auditoria. At the end of each day lively panel discussions demonstrated the interest of the student and professional audience, and the desire for stronger engagement with the international typographic community. (In the sidelines of the conference, plans were hatched to coordinate a BA module on typeface design between Reading and CAFA in 2016–17.)

workshop at CAFA

CAFA workshop

The main part of the visit was taken over by a workshop on typeface design at CAFA. The interest in Latin typeface design is considerable, and the skills of many students impressive. This is a sign of the gradual globalisation of Chinese design education, and the demands by the local professional employers for skills that can serve markets across language and script regions. Although the workshop was primarily focused on typeface design, there was great interest in typographic design, and especially for mobile platforms.

at Founder

Centre for Chinese Font Design and Research

Two visits at the Centre for Chinese Font Design and Research, hosted in the offices of Founder Electronics, focused on design issues in fonts for Chinese, design  tools and processes, and professional training for multi-script design. The second of the visits had very concrete aims, with Gerry orchestrating the localisation of Glyphs (the key font design application) into Simplified Chinese, to enable designers in China to experiment with new workflows.

CITIC publisher agreement

Starting in TDi 2015, Gerry Leonidas guided Liu Zhao to compile a list of books on typography and typeface design in English to be translated into Chinese by CITIC, one of the most prominent publishers in the country. The project is progressing well with many rights already secured, and schedules for the translations and launches in place. Gerry’s involvement in the curation of the series provides the opportunity for the University’s approach to typographic scholarship to be transplanted in a new market in a unique manner. This is part of a wider collaboration between the University, CITIC, and CAFA, with the aim of building up typeface design education in China.

Dongdao Design

Dongdao Design

Despite the timing on a Sunday evening, over 140 designers from Dongdao, one of the largest design agencies in China, turned up to listen to José and Gerry talk about typeface design solutions and studies. The presentations were followed by Q&A sessions and interviews, which will be posted on Chinese social media with subtitles.

p.s. ATypI in Beijing?

Seeing in person the typographically maturing environment in Beijing and particularly the concretely supportive attitude in CAFA convinced José and Gerry (president and vice-president of ATypI respectively) of the importance and timeliness of bringing the annual conference of the type design community to mainland China. They outlined the key parameters of a proposal with Dean Wang Min and Liu Zhao, and explored timing options. Look for announcements through ATypI!

Making an impression: printing presses, type and colour


This workshop, based around the printing press collection in Typography, attracted postgraduate students, academic staff, museum and library professionals, and members of the public interested in the materiality of text, books and ephemeral documents.

Participants used the presses under craft supervision, and had a go at casting metal type.

They printed a page from the Gutenberg bible on a reconstructed one-pull wooden press that Gutenberg would have used, as well as 19th century woodblocks on another.

Alan May demonstrated printing of a Fust and Schoeffer 2-colour initial.

The workshop culminated in a fascinating talk by Dr Elizabeth Savage (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Material Texts & Research Fellow, History of Art,Cambridge University) ‘Deciphering the First Colour-Printed Images in England: The Book of St Albans, 1486’

IMG_1474 IMG_1475 IMG_1479 IMG_1481

Looking at children’s reading books

A collections-based research exhibition about typography and illustration in books for teaching reading from the 1880s to the 1960s.



Monday 11 January 2016 to Friday 18 March 2016

Open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, Monday to Friday

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, ToB2, Earley Gate

More information from Laura Weill l.weill@reading.ac.uk

The use of typography and illustration in reading books for children has changed during the last hundred years. There has been a gradual shift from graphic conventions determined by printing and typesetting practice for adult readers to those more appropriate for beginning and emerging readers. Illustrations have become more important and many reading schemes used known artists to create the much-loved characters who featured in the narrative.


Granshan hits the spot

Jae-joon Han at Granshan

Granshan is devoted to the development of typographic awareness in global scripts, through its annual competition and conference. This year Reading hosted the fourth conference, after Yeravan, Bangkok, and Munich. Over three days, the conference touched on the business of type design, training, support for minority and endangered scripts, the development of resources for complex scripts, and severals aspects of design for global scripts.

Victoria Sarapina

A tight schedule combined a dense pace punctuated by generous break times, to allow for new connections. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the MATD, the first day was devoted to globally prominent speakers who were also graduates of programme.

Adi Stern

Lively discussions followed several presentations, and engaged gatherings continued long after each day’s talks had ended. Feedback for the event was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, creating combination of in-depth but accessible discourse in global typeface design:

The conference included two special events. The first celebrated the Murty Classical Library of India series by Harvard University Press, with a salutation by Tim Jones, and presentations by Fiona Ross, Rathna Ramanathan, and John Hudson. The second was a very special calligraphy duet with Timothy Donaldson representing Europe and Kang Byung-in representing Korea, in an impressively packed studio in Typography.

Granshan calliduel

The conference ended with an after-party organised by the current MATD students. More than twenty countries were represented by speakers, and many more by attendees, underlining the strength and extent of the current network of typeface design.An exceptional AV team produced a liveblog of the conference, and had uploaded most talks before even the end of the conference on the Granshan YouTube Channel.

The conference generated wide coverage and social media recorded very enthusiastic comments by attendees as well as speakers, exemplified by this tweet:

During the closing statements Boris Kochan announced that the 2016 Granshan will take place in Seoul. Follow @GranshanConf for updates!


Branding workshop with Part 3 students

Chris Washington-Sare and students working on the brand proposition for There4Reading.

Chris Washington-Sare and students working on the brand proposition for There4Reading. 

Alumnus Chris Washington-Sare (1985-89), from Pentatonic Marketing, joined us this week to deliver an all-day workshop on ‘How to help charities develop their marketing proposition’ for Part 3 students, as part of their current practical project, ‘Not-for-profit branding and design thinking’.

Learning through a series of short presentations, group work and practical exercises, students were able to develop a marketing strategy for real charity clients ‘More than Food’ (a Trussell Trust food bank initiative), Team Berkshire (a initiative of Get Berkshire Active), There4Reading (Youth Volunteering in Reading) and Kileva (Helping communities in Kenya).

Students gained marketing insights on brand values, the importance of a vision and mission, how to understand and present the functional and emotional benefits of an organisation, how to identify the points of differentiation, and the brand personality. The day ended with a session on social identity and the use of semiotics in branding.

Our students loved it:

“I found the branding workshop very informative and worthwhile. It was useful to look at the project from a marketing perspective rather than as a designer. This gave me and my team a clearer understanding of our competitors, target audience and our charities vision.”

“The day was structured well, as we went through the process right from the beginning to the end. This gave chronology and a greater clarity to how the brand develops from initial research to a vision/mission/values which begin to hint at the imagery of the brand.”

Typography has a special relationship with many of our alumni. We very much value their contributions to ensure that our current students can see where their experience at Reading might lead.

Student competitor analysis for ‘More than Food’ looking at Points-of-Parity and Points-of-Difference.

Student competitor analysis for ‘More than Food’ looking at Points-of-Parity and Points-of-Difference.

‘Time(less) signs’ at Austrian Cultural Forum London


The exhibition ‘Time(less) signs: Otto Neurath and reflections in Austrian Contemporary Art’ runs from 30 September 2014 to 9 January 2015, at the Austrian Cultural Forum London. It features a selection by curator Maria C. Holter from the ‘Zeit(lose) Zeichen’ exhibition first staged at Vienna’s Künstlerhaus in 2012, supplemented by original material from the Department’s Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection (see image above). As part of the public programme accompanying the exhibition, co-curator Christopher Burke will give a talk on Isotype at the Austrian Cultural Forum on Tuesday 14 October 2014.

See also:

Interview with Maria Holter, exhibition curator

Zeit(lose) Zeichen

Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971

Reading presence at the New York & London Art Book Fairs


Last week saw the annual, simultaneously programmed, Art Book Fairs at MoMA PS1 in New York and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Contributors from the Typography Department’s Art Information symposium, first staged in April at London’s ICA, presented again in New York and organiser Ruth Blacksell was invited to talk at NYCUs Artists Institute space in Manhattan. John Morgan, who will follow on at the Artists Institute this Autumn, presented live at the London Fair with his sell-out Whitechapel event ‘I will not make any more boring books’. Amongst the plethora of conference presentations and events across locations, other highlights included AA Bronson in conversation (London), the ‘Unbinding the book’ projects (London), ‘Publishing as research and development’ featuring the web-based magazines Triple Canopy and East of Borneo (NY), Norway’s Kunstnerbøker focus (NY), David Reinfurt of Dexter Sinister on Bruno Munari (NY) and Emily McVarish from California College of the Arts on the book designs of Phil Zimmerman (NY).

NY Art Book Fair

The London Art Book Fair at the Whitechapel Gallery


Printed Matter

A very special ATypI

Jan Tschichold's corrections

As students were settling into their Halls for Welcome Week and the start of the new academic year, Sunday marked the return of several members of the Typography family from the annual ATypI conference, a highlight in the calendar of international type professionals. Held in Barcelona’s impressive new Museu del Diseny by MBM Arquitectes the conference was especially significant for Typography: to celebrate the award of the Sir Mischa Black Medal to Michael Twyman, the Association invited him to deliver the Keynote lecture on the topic of  “Typography as a university study”. (The image above, of visuals marked up by Tschichold for a facsimile edition of Vespasiano’s 1572 writing manual, is from Michael’s collections – and seen by postgraduates who join his seminars.)

Forty years after the foundation of the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication (and a few more since the inception of the original course, in the late 1960s), Michael’s integration of history, theory and practice continues to define typographic education. These ideas have proven not only resilient, but prescient: graphic communication education worldwide is moving towards these ideas, holding Reading as a model for both new courses and institutions realigning their design studies.

Fiona Ross and Michael Twyman

(Above: Fiona Ross and Michael Twyman in Barcelona. Photos by Elena Veguillas)

Reading’s presence at the conference was notable. Eric Kindel and Gerard Unger delivered presentations, as did no less than ten MATD alumni, with two more taking part in panel sessions (Azza Alameddine, Nathalie Dumont, Paul Hunt, William Montrose, Toshi Omagari, Michele Patane, Dan Reynolds, Dan Rhatigan, Alice Savoie, Liron Lavi Turkenich; and Veronika Burian and Nadine Chahine respectively). Fiona Ross co-curated (with the regrettably absent Vaibhav Singh) the exhibition “Making news: type technologies in transition in newspapers across the world”. The selection of items from the Department’s Collections & Archives are a source of fascination and discussion by type designers, and reflect the growth of interest in global scripts.

Making News exhibition

Borna Izadpanah and Behdad Esfahbod reviewing the Urdu section of the exhibition.

ATypI president (and Reading alumnus) José Scaglione’s announcement that ATypI 2015 will take place in São Paulo, the first South American location for the Association, which will bring the conference closer to the substantial community of Brazilian alumni.