Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Designing of a Typeset Business Card. (It's more than pegging type!)

This installment is little more than a simple endorsement for a time honoured tradition which . . . I happen to observe at G. Johanson, Printer. Rather than just talk about it, I thought it might be fun to shoot a series of photos while I went through the process of doing something I have had to put off for over a year now because of other printing commitments:

Print my own danged cards!!

So, let's get to it.

Actually, I lied. There is a good deal of discussion in this installment, because half of the sweat was in the decision process. Hard to photograph that.

To begin:

The first thing I do is determine what sort of card I want. Who am I? Am I traditional printer? Do I have a conservative bent? Artsy? (I want to say "creative", but really, all inclinations can be creative!) Am I an avante garde type? Do I like whips and chains? A lot of what your card transmits, indeed, your whole studio or shop along with the products thereof is a reflextion of you, personally.

My own profile as a printer trends conservative, but I love new things. I also love busting the mould, bashing the code, whatever. I'm an ex-hippie radical that loves and finds direction in history. I also believe and trust the Living God of the Bible, and hold every word as Truth and Life, which colours all I do. So, how do I make my business cards speak this? How do I tell a potential client or student that if they want creativity from a tradesman with one foot in the deep traditions of the 15th - 18th Centuries, yet loves to listen to Beirut, Tilly and the Wall, old Beatles, Dylan, Tommy Dorsey and Bach, and who's design and work will probably manifest all of the above, I'm your guy?

Tall order, I'd say.

I opted not to call my self "This or That" press or "Whatever" press. The "press" thing in the name seems to be what everybody is doing. In the Colonial days, a printers were identified their names. "Printed by W. Young, Chestnut Street" or "Printed by David Charlisle, Wapole Vermont."

G. Johanson, Printer seems to fit my personality and sense of history. And it is well understated.

The "dingbat" foundry cut of an iron handpress dingbat drives home that idea.

But wait a minute! I also do digital design and work with one of the finest platers on this hemisphere! I do Art Deco, Eastlake Victorian, Irish Celtic, German Blackletter, contour art, Manga, alternative music. I am not defined by history, I'd rather MAKE it. As an artist and musician, creativity is a passion. Where does Tradition, Creativity and Art Discipline meet on my business card?

Traditionally and Creatively --- in the very letters themselves!

So, I look over my metal (well, lead antimony) fonts and find what best suits, which is in my posession. I find three fonts: 14pt. Caslon "Open Face" title, 10pt. Caslon 337 OS and 8pt Engravers Medium. The Open Face (I don't think it's really Caslon, the characters don't even resemble any Caslon stylings I know of!) just plain looks cool. Goudy Hand Tooled is very close.

The next line could have been printed in 1730, it's the exact font from the exact foundry would would find in Colonial Williamsburg. Only, I kept out the tall "s" for modern eyes' sake. Caslon is my "house font". I have a passion for pre-19th century books and publications, so this face is a natch. Caslon was also Ben Franklin's favourite "Fount".

The engraver's bold is a little more modern. It's almost out of place, yet not entirely. It's a fun font: it can look very Establishment or very Circus, depending how you use it. It's actally kinda quirky. It dates to the mid 1850s.

At first I opted to use Neenah Classic Laid Ivory 80lb stock, and indeed I purchased and cut up the ream, but then my attention fell to Neenah's Linen Finished Pearl card stock. Wow, is it spectacular! Irridescent. It's a somewhat hard, brilliant stock, which goes against the current grain of Letterpress thought(soft, spongy papers and deep, deep deboss.)

So, there's the design: "G. Johanson, Printer" on top, "Creative & Traditional Handset Tyypography" on the next line. I fought with myself over whether to use "Letterpress", which has a broader base of understanding, or the more proper "Typography". Maybe I'm wrong, but since I print more than just type, in fact, a majority of what I have done comes from my digital developmental tools, the broader term Typography is more appropriate. And if anybody asks, I'll just say "Letterpress".

Ok, next, centred, the Dingbat. I love this dingbat. It was my mascot from back in my Heirloom Press days. My colophons all had this image from this very dingbat. This is one awesome dingbat! Everybody should have an awesome Dingbat.

Last two lines: Blogspot, which currently serves as my website, and phone number, in case anyone actually wants to call. My e-mail can be gotten from my Blogspot site.

So here it is. The type is shown in a composition stick exactly the way you would hold it when composing. Upside down, left to right, from the top down. Nicks up (the tiny divit on the bottom of the type body) which will tell you if your type is upside down or not. Sometimes even which font you are using. Or which foundry cast the type. I use two: M&H, and Quaker City. Quaker and I go back a number of years. Both carry much of the old ATF castings.

Here is a sneak peak at the "proof". We'll stop here for this installment, and continue on with the proofing of this assemblage of lead called a "Forme" or "Form".

Good Providence in all your typographic endeavours.


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