Typographic perambulations

There’s far too much to do. There are three websites to be built, a countless number of books on my shelf to be read, several drafts about CSS to publish and a secret project that didn’t exist until a flurry of text messages spurred the idea the other afternoon. It’s exciting and yet wildly daunting to find myself with so little time and energy and focus left over all of a sudden.

However, speaking of exciting though, late last year I ordered an interesting bit of typographic ephemera from Glenn Fleishman that I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. It’s a folio (which is a roundabout and rather fancy way to say a folded sheet) and it’s all about the poet and printer Walt Whitman.

Not only is this folio a beautiful typographic curiosity, but Fleishman is also about to publish another very soon; this time a book, and this time with his focus squarely set on the city of London. Even just reading the introduction for London Kerning! A Book of Typographic Perambulations makes me a little giddy:

Heading east towards St Paul’s Cathedral, turn right down Bride Lane, a narrow alley that passes St Bride’s Church. Where it takes a curve to the left, you see a stately tall brick building. It’s the home of the St Bride Foundation, which contains the extraordinary historical printing-related book collection and other archives of St Bride Library [...] There I saw remarkable pieces of typographic history in a library that has nearly closed on multiple occasions, and the future of which remains shaky.

I reckon there are two things to note here: first, of course I preordered the book as soon as I heard about it because I’m desperate to learn more about the history of London and the St Bride’s Library. Second, I’ve never been to St Bride’s and it deeply bothers me on an almost existential level. I keep hearing about how their collection is a true wonder and even on their website they appear to tease me:

Many thousands of books, printing-related periodicals and physical objects are at the heart of St Bride Library. Volumes on the history of printing, typography, newspaper design and paper-making jostle for space alongside one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of type specimens. The printed, written, carved and cast word may be found at St Bride in its myriad forms

Ugh. I’m so terribly jealous of Glenn for visiting the library but ultimately I’m ecstatic to see such riches will soon be available in print – I’m sure it’s going to be a lovely little book.

Letter of the Week

I’ve been following the Brooklyn-based type designer Juan Kafka for quite some time and especially on Instagram where he’s been experimenting with all sorts of crazy designs and shapes for letters. Thankfully he’s now begun archiving them on the Lettering section of his website and oh boy howdy.

Here, take a look:

I’m not entirely sure I would like these letters in a typeface but I love staring at these weird shapes and I love thinking about how, in the art of lettering, there’s no rules when it comes to structure or shape. An A doesn’t have to look like an A. And legibility doesn’t have to be the primary concern when working on a project like this. Instead, experimentation is important and pushing your eye down all sorts of unforeseen paths and typographic gateways.

And I think Juan is a master of that. Take a look at this W (?) for instance: