19 October 2010

Helvetica with a twist of Caslons

The Fundy Film Society will be screening the documentary Helvetica Wednesday evening at the Al Whittle Theater on Main Street in Wolfville, continuing their tradition of programming a type or printing related film in advance of Gaspereau Press’s annual wayzgoose. The film starts at 7:00 pm. General Admission is $8.

Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type. The film was Directed by Gary Hustwit and written by Chris Greenhalgh and features typographic heavyweights (boldfaces?) Matthew Carter, Erik Spiekermann, Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel and many more. Okay, so even if you don’t know who those people are and can’t pick Helvetica out of a line up, it’s still an interesting film.

Here in the printshop it has been a Caslony kind of day. Bruce Johnson’s novel Firmament is on both Matt’s Hiedelberg press and my Vandercook handpress right now. Matt’s got the first side of most of the lifts printed. The book is set in two digital revivals of Caslon, the body text in Carol Twombly’s version from Adobe (which is designed to withstand the rigors of offset printing in text sizes) and the display matter in Matthew Carter’s masterful Big Caslon. They make a good team, these types.

I’ve had a day of distractions thus far, but am working my way through printing the second colour on a stack of Hemlock-coloured felt-finish sheets of paper, what will be Bruce Johnson’s book jacket. I thought that I'd see how gold ink looked, though as I suspected it was too gaudy. Next I mixed some silver into a dark green ink and ended up with a mint-coloured concoction that works in the right tonal range on the paper. Sometimes you just don’t know until it’s all laid out in front of you whether it’s going o work, and I suppose that’s what keeps it interesting.

The top sheet is a makeready of the final colour (the first pull, so some of the stars are not fully inked yet); The bottom sheet shows the gold.


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