Typeface, The Movie: Get Off Your Computer and See This!

September 18, 2009 | Design Trends

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Last night I joined AIGA for the Maine premiere of Typeface, a documentary film from Kartemquin Films, directed by Justine Nagan.

The film focuses on Hamilton Wood Type, a wood type foundry, now turned museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Overlaying the detailed examination of Hamilton is a broader look at the importance of a more tactile study of typography. In addition to the locals involved with the Type museum are designers from Chicago and Minneapolis who augment their computer-produced design with letterpress and wood type work.

Hamilton Wood Type Museum

HamiltonTypeThe Wood Type Museum is housed in the factory that used to be a thriving business. Now, much of the library of wood type is in need of cataloging and the few people who know how to run the equipment are aging quickly. But it looks like a fascinating place and it is open to visitors who are able to touch nearly everything. And, there are also partnerships with several schools who host printing workshops at the museum.

This review is not going to be a review of the film in terms of cinematography, narration, etc. Rather, I feel compelled to get all of you readers to do one, or more, of the following:

Do something

  1. Get off your computer while working on your next project. This could be a design project, a writing project, figuring out a puzzle or doing some research. I know I spend way, way too much time staring at my monitor, and not nearly enough time figuring  and thinking outside that realm.
  2. Engage in a hobby that is very hands-on, especially if it is part of a visually-focused creative process. One of the themes of this movie is how everything visual is so flat these days. We spend lots of time looking at pixels on a screen, or with printed pieces that are so expertly printed there is hardly any feel to the paper or ink themselves. Honestly, many of us cannot give up the computer for work, but we can find ways to engage more of our senses through other activities.
  3. Visit the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. It’s located in northeast Wisconsin, several hours drive from either Chicago or the Twin Cities. I wish I were closer (or had known about it when I lived in Chicago).
  4. Make a donation to the museum and/or the film makers. This is a treasure worth preserving and they need support. Support the museum by donating here. You can support the film makers by direct donation or by purchasing posters created at the museum workshop. Personally, I just became a member of the museum, but boy those posters look luscious!

RobRoyKellyLast night’s even ended with what I like to call type porn. We were able to view a set of wood type designed & printed broadsides. These were a collection made by Rob Roy Kelly who was a designer, historian and collector of all things related to wood type.

Engage your senses

Readers, what activities do you do to get back to the hands on approach? Are you able to work off the computer, or is it reserved for hobbies?

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