June 2004 Archives
As long as I'm talking about graphic alphabets, I may as well mention Ben Shahn.
Arnie Perlstein, who I know from Howard Rheingold's Brainstorms community, found this lovely gem while looking for something else: He was exploring the journal itself, "Di Khalyastre," the "gang". There was such an incredible ferment of Yiddish poetry and other writing - plus amazing graphics work - during that period. I think it's my favorite period for type and graphic design, and certainly my favorite period for Yiddish lettering (as opposed, say, to Daniel Bomburg's Talmud, or to the Porro polyglot bible). I wish more people were working with Yiddish during the explosion of punk type in the 1990s. We may simply have to do it now.
In the meantime, if you look at the damn text type on this project, or on others in this archive, it is godawful. The equivalent of Times Roman or worse. But, think about it. To get a new typeface in those days was a fairly lengthy and difficult process (vs. drawing a nice cover). To design a good typeface is still a fairly lengthy and difficult process today, although once the shapes look good, and the sidebearings work, one packages up the digital font and presto. It's not quite the same as creating the matrices for each size for letterpress or hot type and all the rest. We could be living in typographically exciting times.