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Concept

My MFA thesis explores the idea of humanism in typography, specifically how to preserve the elegance and warmth of classic fine typography in digital settings. I am working on a revival of the typeface Monotype Van Dijk, itself a revival of Christoffel Van Dijck’s work in the 17th century. Monotype’s version was executed by Dutch designer and typographer Jan Van Krimpen in the 1930s, at the behest of Stanley Morison.

Auto-traced scans of Monotype Van Dijck from Chelmaxioms

As with many contemporary revivals, the current digital version of Van Dijck offered by Monotype is a poorly done rendition of Van Krimpen’s work. I want to restore Van Dijck to its former glory, while also leveraging the power of OpenType to mimic the subtle variations and imperfections that typify letterpress printing on fine paper. Aside from a robust and versatile type family, I want the documentation of my work to serve as a survey of type revival methods, as well as a how-to guide for others attempting to adapt a typeface from older technology. Using my own work as the case study, the resulting fonts become more personal and significant to me. With that in mind, I’ve chosen to call my new typeface by the old master’s first name, Christoffel.

Some key thesis questions:

  1. What characteristics of fine printing lead to a better reading experience
  2. How can the typographical refinement of metal type and letterpress be preserved in a digital document?
  3. How do typefaces evolve and mutate when they are revived?
  4. What factors go into the decision to revive or abandon a typeface?
  5. What different methods and attitudes are there regarding the art of type revival? What are their relative merits?
  6. How can classic text faces function effectively for today’s readers, considering what’s being read (e.g. literature, comics, news, blogs, email) and how people are reading it (e.g. paper, ebook, laptop, iPhone)?

As befits an academic thesis, and in keeping with my own values and those of Parsons’ Design & Technology program, the resulting digital fonts will be released free and open source:

Creative Commons License
Christoffel: Type in the Age of Digital Duplucation by Noam Berg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

About the Mad Scientist Running this Show

Noam Berg is a graduate Student in the Design and Technology MFA program at Parsons School for Design in New York City. He is also the (debatably) creative force behind Exfish Studio. Noam is obsessed with old vacuum tubes, type design, computers, guitars and comic books. Noam likes Thai sweet chili sauce, hats, suits & ties, Wacom tablets, Japanese green tea (with the toasted rice), nerdy science girls, many varieties of music, SLR cameras, AnarchoJudaism, lithography and pocket watches. Noam's not a big fan of cell phones, the cool kids, ugly and over-used fonts (you know who you are!) and talking about himself in the third person. Seriously, this is really weird. I'm gonna stop doing it now.