A Revival and Celebration of the Golden Age of Typography
Any type user and enthusiast will doubtless derive joy from the letters and ornaments in Vintage Graphic Design, gathered from the rare and forgotten sources that authors Steven Heller and Louise Fili have collected over the years. As type gourmets, Heller and Fili savor type in many forms—especially the aesthetically idiosyncratic and the printed artifacts of which historical or retro typefaces are samples. A period of rapid innovation and growth in printing and type technology, the late 1800s and early 1900s saw type foundries in Europe and America burst into wellsprings for bold compositions and arresting typefaces However, this is not a history book; rather, it is a sampler of tasty typographic confections or so-called eye candy. The curated selection here reflects this era’s printing material, including stock pictorial cuts, filigree borders, and cartouches galore.
These aesthetic gems are the fruit of Heller’s and Fili’s labors after spending decades scouring the antiquarian book and flea markets of Paris, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, eastern Europe, and elsewhere online and in auction catalogs to find examples of graphic design worth preserving and reviving. These beautiful—yet often absurd—rarities represent historic typeface catalogs and specimen sheets from an age when craftsmanship was at its zenith and attention to manufacture was rigorous. Paired best with the authors’ 2011 book, Vintage Type & Graphics, this full color volume is not just about delectation for its own sake, but to prove beyond a drop-shadow of a doubt that just because a typeface or decorative device is “old” does not mean it is “old-fashioned.”
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About the Author
Steven Heller, former art director of the New York Times Book Review, is the co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of more than 180 books on graphic design, illustration, and political art, including over thirty published by Allworth Press and fifteen titles coauthored with Louise Fili. He writes the Daily Heller for Print magazine and contributes to Design Observer, Eye, Wired, the New York Times, and the Atlantic. He is the recipient of two honorary doctorates, the AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement, and the Smithsonian National Design Award for “Design Mind.” He lives in New York City.
Louise Fili is director of Louise Fili Ltd, a New York-based studio specializing in brand development for food packaging and restaurants, as well as typeface design. Fili was art director for eleven years at Pantheon Books, where she designed close to two thousand book jackets. In addition to her books with Steven Heller, she has also written and designed Elegantissima, a best-selling monograph of her work, as well as Grafica della Strada, Graphique de la Rue, Gràfica de les Rambles, The Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence, and Italianissimo. A member of the Art Directors Hall of Fame, she has also received the AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement and the Type Directors Club Medal of Excellence. She has designed several fonts, which include Mardell, Montecatini, and Marseille. She lives in New York City.