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Typecast Takes Manhattan at New York’s Pencil to Pixel

By Shelly Wilson on Thursday 2nd of May 2013

Monotype’s successful and widely acclaimed Pencil to Pixel type exhibition arrives in New York City this weekend, and we’re gatecrashing. Showcasing a heap of typographic treasures, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

Exhibit pic

We’re surrounded by type from dawn till dusk, but it’s not often that you get the chance to see the history of the typefaces that shape our environment. Only a handful of people can say they’ve been within touching distance of the original drawings of design’s classic typefaces, and this is your chance to join those lucky few.

Revel in 100 years of type design

The Pencil to Pixel exhibit runs from 3–9 May at the Tribeca Skyline Studios in lower Manhattan, and curators have delved deep into Monotype’s vault to unveil typographic artefacts that span its 125 years in the field.

Eric Gill’s 1928 pencil and ink drawings for Gill Sans Italic

Exhibit pic

Men at work in the Monotype factory

You’ll be able to get up close to original artwork, examples of precision drafting, metal and film masters, historical photographs of their type designers at work, and the tools used to bring typefaces to life.

It’s a rare chance to learn about the birth of some of your favorite typefaces, follow type’s trajectory from inspiration to execution, and better appreciate the thought, care, and design craftsmanship that has gone into the typefaces we work with daily. 

“It’s an opportunity to see the hand of the author,” explains James Fooks-Bale, Monotype’s Director of Marketing. “A lot of designers are familiar with the [drop down] menu in Adobe but aren’t familiar with the fact that [all those typefaces] came from someone’s hand. In Salfords alone, at the original Monotype plant built in 1897, there were once 1,000 people at work designing typefaces. The precision engineering apprenticeships there were considered second only to Rolls Royce.”

Exhibit pic

“Big Red” – a compendium of Linotype faces published in 1939 and a showpiece of the Chauncey Griffith era

Exciting new additions

The exhibit first premiered in London last year. This New York incarnation will reprise many of the original exhibit’s objects but will also feature never before seen artefacts, including:

  • phototype masters for the Haas Unica and Neue Helvetica typefaces;
  • Eric Gill’s original drawings of the Joanna typeface; and
  • the manuscript that inspired Adrian Frutiger’s typeface Linotype Didot.

They’ve also added some special items of American type heritage, including a copy of the 1931 Linotype magazine Typographic Sanity (which was published in Brooklyn) as well as original drawings of the Centaur typeface by American typographer and type designer Bruce Rogers.

Whet your appetite with this behind-the-scenes look at the London exhibit

“These artifacts are not simply for show,” explains Dan Rhatigan, Monotype’s UK Type Director. “They’re chosen and arranged to tell a story about how the design of typefaces is informed, constrained, and even enhanced by technology – whether it’s the technology of machine and molten lead or microprocessor and bitmap.”

Explore type on tech with the fellas of Typecast

Exibit pic

Over in the pixel portion of the exhibit you’ll find us joining in the fun. David and Paul, our designer and director, will be there all week with our mini device lab to help celebrate web typography and show visitors how easy it is now to display beautiful type on modern devices. So make sure to say hello.

David (left) and Paul (right) will be there to talk type with you

Grab the controls yourself and see firsthand how classics like the Gill Sans and Helvetica typefaces translate to different platforms and operating systems.

Free tickets & guided tour

Admission is free and they’re even providing free guided tours, but you have to reserve a ticket. So grab some friends, book your tickets and make an afternoon of it. We hope to see you there!

Follow Pencil to Pixel on Twitter and join the conversation using #penciltopixel. You can also follow all the chat and the stream of live pics from attendees at their hashtag feed.

Type on Screen

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