Wow, we got another fantastic book today – “Hand to Type” was first published in 2012 by the publishing house “gestalten” (Berlin). At first sight this book is very large and has a cool hand lettered cover made by Allan Daastrup. Because of that, the book’s size, the well-crafted binding and its nice-to-touch paper, I immediately felt, that this is something special. I even hesitated unpacking it, because I would not want to risk damaging it in any way.  But what is in it?

About the book

Hand to type is divided into 3 sections: essays by experts, interviews with artists and excerpts from artists’ portfolio around the world. Jan Middendorp, who is the editor of this book, gives in the long and well-written preface an insight on how the ideas for this book were born and defines, how some of those occult words like calligraphy, typography, lettering and so on are used.

The book is not quite what its title suggests – it is more! It’s about calligraphy, font foundries, artists, and so on. To say it first all of the chapters in the book interviews and essays are independent, I highly recommend reading the preface first though. The book tries to give a whole view on scripts and how they are created. Does it succeed? Well, yes and no. On the one hand the range of this book is so vast; many of the essays’ subjects in it could fill books themselves, like the essay about Indian scripts or better said the whole complex of Indian languages and writing.

On the other hand there are many chapters, which I really enjoyed, like the essay “the amsterdamse krulletter” by Ramiro Espinoza. It is not about history and techniques or other stuff like that, but it clearly expresses the admiration for these former endemic hand-letterers and how to preserve at least a part of that old art by designing a script.

The interview section is giving a glimpse on famous artists’ (like Tony di Spignia or Gemma O’Brian) biography, influences, inspirations and their personal views on their work. It is quite astonishing, that so many different arts and artists are presented in one book. For example Timothy Donaldson is a calligraphy artist, whose works are hardly legible anymore (if at all). Of course that is his style and his way of exploring new possibilities. Then there are artists in this book, who see themselves as artisans, which you can also see in their works.

That said; let’s have a brief look at the portfolio section. I have three favorites. A good example for a script designer is Sabrina Lopez. She designed a beautiful script called Parfumerie Script, which has about 2500 glyphs.  “Terra Incognita” by Misha Karagezyan is a beautiful calligraphy made with a wooden nib and ink mixed on paper. It hit my eye at once, maybe because it is not perfect but very raw and colorful (as compared to other calligraphies). Alison Carmichael does a lot of hand lettering; I was impressed by her compositions (consisting of hand lettering, painting, photography as well as CGI) and the list of companies, she has worked for.

To sum it up there’s a lot of information, worth reading and beautiful artwork in this book, which will most probably inspire you. There are some nice to read essays and in-depth interviews and all in all I love this book.#

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