This talk took place on June 5, 2017 in the Rose Auditorium at The Cooper Union as part of the Herb Lubalin Lecture series and Type@Cooper. The recording was made possible by a generous sponsorship from Hoefler & Company.
Book designer, photographer, and teacher Bruce Kennett lives in rural New England. After earning a B.A. in humanities and working as an architect and printer, he moved to Austria to study calligraphy and book design with Friedrich Neugebauer, and later translated Neugebauer’s The Mystic Art of Written Forms. During the 1980s, he was the managing director of Maine’s renowned Anthoensen Press, and since then has maintained his own studio with clients that have ranged from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Boston College Law School, and the Grolier Club to L.L. Bean and the Mount Washington Observatory. In the peaceful surroundings of his country studio, Bruce designs illustrated books and exhibition graphics, and makes large-scale murals of his photographs.
Bruce has collected the work of W. A. Dwiggins since 1972, and has been writing and lecturing about him since 1980. His comprehensive biography, W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design (Letterform Archive, 2017), captures the inspiring accomplishments and wit of this amazing artist.
Dwiggins (1880–1956) spent the last three decades of his long career enraptured with type design. Informed by his long years of experience working as a calligrapher, illustrator, and advertising designer, Dwggins often found the initial spark for his designs in historic models, but made his finished types very much his own. His fruitful relationship with Mergenthaler Linotype resulted in the production of five typefaces, plus the suite of Caravan ornaments, but these constitute only the minority in the grand total of his ideas.
Bruce Kennett, author of the first comprehensive biography of Dwiggins (Letterform Archive, 2017), will guide us through the landscape of Dwiggins’s lesser-known designs — quirky explorations, trials, and false starts, none of which made it to full commercial release at Linotype. In addition to WAD’s many types intended for slug composition, Bruce will present Dwiggins’s work for typewriter manufacturers, condensed headline types for newspapers, paste-up headletter alphabets for magazines, music notation, and a kaleidoscopic array of decorated initials.