Pitchfork   The Dissolve   Festivals: Chicago | Paris

Even in the age of streaming video, the vast majority of the information we consume online is in the form of type. While sophisticated typography may be a given in an era of web fonts, a new exhibition from famed font and imaging firm Monotype showcases the painstaking artistry behind the classic typefaces we see on screens everyday.

"Pencil to Pixel," which runs May 3-9 at New York’s Tribeca Skyline Studio, connects historic, handcrafted fonts and hot metal typesetting to the contemporary type displayed on handheld devices. More than a century of artifacts drawn from the Monotype’s archives in Salfords, UK, will be part of this rare display, including drawings by Eric Gill, creator of Gill Sans, production pieces from Helvetica, original drawings of Times New Roman commissioned for The Times of London, as well as concept art, photos, and metal and film masters. It helps “tell a story about how the design of typefaces is informed, constrained, and even enhanced by technology” according to Monotype type director Dan Rhatigan.

“It’s an opportunity to see the hand of the author,” says James Fooks-Bale, Monotype’s director of marketing, who helped curate the exhibit. “A lot of designers are familiar with the tick-down menu in Adobe and aren’t familiar with the fact that it came from someone’s hand. Consider that in Salfords alone, the original Monotype plant built in 1897, there were once 1,000 people at work designing typefaces. The precision engineering apprenticeships there were considered second only to Rolls Royce.”

Visit penciltopixel.org for information on the exhibit and booking tours. Details on related speeches and events, including “From Logo to Experience,” exploring design and brand identity hosted by Lippincott, a brand strategy and design firm and event co-sponsor, will be released later.




Andreas Hansen's new iOS game Font Nerd keeps score, but the app is more learning tool than arcade game. The game quizzes players with sentences written in different fonts, and the object is to identify as many typefaces as possible. If a player is stumped, they can see more characters or similar fonts to make an educated guess. Font Nerd's best features are the built-in tools to help you remember the different typefaces you encounter while playing. There's a favorite button to keep a running list of fonts that caught your eye, and if you really like a typeface, there's even an option to make a purchase directly from the app. 

Find Font Nerd on Behance.