At first I feared François Chastanet’s presentation would be too similar to Tony de Marco’s on the same subject at TypeCon2005 last year. Luckily my fear quickly proved to be unfounded. Contrarily to Tony de Marco’s very personal account – remember his poignant “I live here” –, Chastanet approached the subject matter more pragmatically.
Dino dos Santos’ “Calligraphia Portugueza” was a beautiful presentation in the literal sense of the world. Dino traced the history of calligraphy in Portugal by showing stunning examples by the writing masters who defined the Portuguese style.
Andrade, a new script typeface by Dino dos Santos
Page by Manoel de Andrade de Figueiredo (fragment) We witnessed the emergence of the national style thanks to the “Nova Escola” of Manoel de Andrade de Figueiredo, who developed his own teaching method concentrating on the formal shapes of the lowercase. The design of the capitals – assembled using a number of basic strokes as building blocks – was more open to personal interpretation by the calligrapher.
Ventura, a new script typeface by Dino dos Santos
Page by Joaquim José Ventura da Silva (fragment) The Portuguese style further evolved and flourished in the 19th century as Joaquim José Ventura da Silva formalised the letterforms even further, creating a grid-like system for both lowercase and uppercase.
The 20th century heralded a period of decline, when French and English influences superseded the national style. Only recently a revival started; the digitisation by Dino dos Santos of both the Andrade and the Ventura model being a testimony to the resurgence of typical Portuguese calligraphy.
This is the kind of presentation I really like, providing the historical background and then linking it to the contemporary digital versions. The numerous gorgeous calligraphy samples Dino showed us were just icing on the cake. I thought he was being unnecessarily modest about his beautiful digitisations of Andrade and Ventura, as he barely mentioned them and only used his typefaces to illustrate the characteristics of the two styles.
Andreu Balius’ presentation was an interesting and entertaining analysis of digital type in Spain in the 90s. Andreu started by giving us a brief political and socio-economic history, which went a long way to explaining the evolution of Spanish type design. It also made clear where the current crop of Spanish type designers come from. Basically by the early 90s there was no Spanish type design so to speak of, and no type design education either. Possibilities for learning the craft were virtually non-existent, so aspiring type designers had no other option but to copy other designers’ work. As their self-assurance grew, people like Andreu Balius, the Typ-Ø-Tones collective and Iñigo Jerez gradually moved away from the grunge principle of deconstruction and appropriation. They developed their own distinct voices and their focus started to shift to “classic type”. Andreu ended his presentation by showing several recent digital type designs, some of which won prestigious awards.
Pradell by Andreu Ballius Excellence in Type design · Bukva:raz! / ATypI. 2001 & Type Directors Club. 2002
Quixotte Fine by Iñigo Jerez in Suite Magazine Excellence in Type design · Type Directors Club. 2006 Again an interesting talk, combining historical background with contemporary type design. There was a slight language barrier problem, because Andreu read the presentation from a print, just like Dino had done right before him. Fortunately the quality of both content and visuals meant this wasn't too much problem.
Raquel Pelta’s talk on the other hand had considerable problems. Her presentation about the Spanish avant-garde and typography in the early 20th century consisted of her sitting behind the desk and simply reading her paper. She didn't master English very well and spoke with a very strong accent, which made it nigh impossible to understand her. Because the visuals were scarce and half her slides were simply excerpts from the paper she was reading aloud, her presentation dissolved into a monotonous, unconvincing affair. I sincerely think that in cases like this people should be allowed to give the lecture in their native language, with subtitles on the screen (it's being done in theatre and opera since quite a while). Either that or have someone else present it. Or even not have it, because this truly was a waste of time.
Just a note about morning moderation. Wasn't this the morning that John Berry stood up and introduced himself as Jean François Porchez? I'm pretty sure it was, and John did take over the morning session as moderator.
04.11.2006 - 06.36.06
Posted by Miss Tiffany
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