Amidst a thorough re-brand of the Press by London-based, long-time collaborators Build, we were asked by the commissioners to create an indelible, versatile display typeface that would emulate the painstaking nature of the lithographic printing process (as well as the Press’ additional, no-less-exacting offerings).
Owing to the history and experience of the printers — fourth-Generation, family-owned, family-operated — we sought to emulate the provenance of the business itself while simultaneously bringing the small-scale, independent press confidently into the present. Looking back in order to move the brand forward, we went about drawing a pair of typefaces rooted in the recent antiquity of wood type and simultaneously devoted to the contemporary craft of specialist printing.
Deriving initial inspiration from a long-dormant send-up of the late-19th-Century DeVinne wood types (by Gustav F. Schroeder) that we’d begun drawing in 2010, we began to play with two simple orbiting typefaces that would be distinguished from each other not by weight, but rather by structure. Thinking of the degradation of thin strokes that occurs when printing with wood type, the notion of a stencil typeface became more and more compelling — something whose hairline separations would nevertheless come through clearly in print when given the care of craftspeople like those at the Poynings-based Generation.
The result — a highly-detailed and precise stencil serif and accompanying serif type — both elevates and subverts the history of the Press. A classic demibold serif when witnessed from afar, the type takes on a new appearance (and perhaps even meaning) when writ large or seen up close, putting the small incisions and chamfers of each letterform in conversation with the technicalities of the printers’ working process.
In approaching the commission as a translation of Generation’s process into a new medium, we enacted a series of familiar, shared practices: embracing collaboration, obsessing over the details, inventing and re-inventing, making more from less, pricing the output fairly, and ensuring the longevity of the work.