Plantin Institute of Typography - Expert class Type design
The Plantin Institute of Typography trains experts in typography and design. It offers a unique program which combines theoretical insights and historical background with contemporary technical knowledge and practical skills. The team of local and international teachers are experts in their field. Their extensive experience in the graphic and printing industry guarantee their outstanding ability. The expert classes are taught in the Plantin Institute of Typography, in the world-renowned Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. For the third consecutive year it organises its Expert class Type design, taught by type designer Frank E. Blokland.
Expert class 2010-2011: Type design exercises. Amongst the alumni of the past two years are Ann Bessemans, Henrik Kubel and Dave Crossland.
Ann teaches typography and graphic design at the PHL and defends her PhD thesis today at the University of Leiden, in association with the PHL – iconic Dutch type designer Prof. Gerard Unger is her supervisor and Prof. Dr. Bert Willems the co-supervisor. Her research, for which she has received a grant from Microsoft USA (Cleartype & Advanced Reading Technologies), deals with typefaces for children with a visual impairment. Her typeface Mathilda, finished during the Expert class Type design 2010–2011, plays a central role in her dissertation.
Henrik is a highly successful type designer and entrepreneur. Together with Scott Williams he co-founded A2-TYPE, the type foundry set up by their design studio A2/Sw/Hk in 2010. Their first release in 2009, New Rail Alphabet, was developed in collaboration with British icon Margaret Calvert, and is a refreshed and expanded version of her alphabet from the 1960s. He finished his type family Antwerp during the Expert class Type design 2010–2011.
Dave is an English type designer, best known for creating the Cantarell typeface. Made while studying for over 2 years at the Department of Typography at the University of Reading (UK), Cantarell was chosen as the brand type for the GNOME desktop. Dave is currently working as Font Consultant to Google Web Fonts, and offers Understanding Fonts type design workshops all around the world.
Expert class 2011-2012: Studying punches and matrices from the inventory of the Museum Plantin-Moretus, which J.F. Rosart made for his Garamonde Romaine (one of the few types of which both punches and matrices are preserved). What can potential students exactly expect from the Expert class Type design? F R A N K E. B L O K L A N D “They can expect to get theoretical background information, to some extent technical guidance and personal assistance when designing a new typeface. The EcTd course is limited to ten lessons. In between these the students have to study and work at home. To what extent this is possible depends on the amount of time the students can commit to this and, of course, at which level they start. Master courses like Type & Media at the KABK and the MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading are full-time courses and the entry level of most students is higher. However, Dave has a Master degree from Reading and still wanted to follow my Expert class.”
D A V E C R O S S L A N D “Each of the courses have their own very different positions on what background letter-making skills are most relevant for students wishing to design digital type, and the overall approach to type making: MA Typeface design takes a non-calligraphic approach, instead encouraging sketching of type forms with a loose ‘imaginary mark making tool’ theory and contemporary forms; type is designed through iteration evaluated in document usage. Type & Media takes a broad calligraphic approach, encouraging various calligraphic, stone carving, and others; type is designed through a craft/art ‘lettering arts’ practice. (Addition by Frank: the course follows the Noordzij and subsequently the Johnston doctrines). Expert class Type design is much shorter in duration, and with the limited time available focuses on broad nib calligraphy and analysing classical historical type forms; type is designed through an analytical model (which comes from Frank’s PhD research).”
Expert class 2011-2012: Manual digitizing in the IKARUS format (applying vintage, but still relatively powerful hardware [the computer used is very inexpensive nowadays] and software) of the drawings for the Rosart-revival. The name says ‘Expert Class’. What level of proficiency do you expect from potential students? F R A N K E. B L O K L A N D “The content of the lessons is mostly on ‘expert’ level. As mentioned, the level of proficiency differs. Therefore the degree of the graduates differs too. Of course, it’s not a Masters degree, but the Plantin Institute for Typography has an official status (title Posthogeschoolvorming of the Artesis Hogeschool), hence the degree too.”