Feature

'Pencil to Pixel' Exhibition
Until November 23rd

20.11.2012




'Pencil to Pixel' by Monotype brings together the past, present and future of a unique typographic institution.

Spanning over a hundred years, the expertise and craftmanship of Monotype has shaped the way in which we see and read the everyday world around us. With selected pieces from their unique archive this exhibition gives you the chance to explore the classics, from their initial drawings through to the finished product.

You can also experience the typographic future which Monotype are helping to shape in the growing digital age and with the multitude of platforms available, with pieces which demonstrate just how far type has come in the age of technology.

People can just turn up or view the exhibition with a member of the Type Drawing Office on a private tour. Admission is free, people can book through the site: penciltopixel.org.

Robin Nicholas, Head of Typography at Monotype and Daniel Rhatigan, UK Type Director explain more...

"Back in the late 19th century a brand new technology was revolutionising the production of type. Type casting machines required a set of 10-inch drawings to be created, establishing the design and dimensional characteristics of each letter in a typeface before the production process could start."

Monotype started in the UK in 1897, producing type from it's sprawling factory in Salfords, Surrey. Initially, designs were based on existing foundry typefaces in common use in the printing trade at the time. But within a few years new designs were developed, some based on historical types, some completely new designs such as the iconic Times New Roman and Gill Sans families. Monotype's modestly sized current offices are located on the site where its factory once stood. The company's continued presence at its original location has had an unplanned outcome, the importance of which is only now coming to light. Even as the company's manufacturing activities ceased it was able to
hold onto the complete archive of its Type Drawing Office.

A typophile's dream, this archive records about 80 years worth of typeface development as well as even older material from other sources gathered over the years. It contains hand drawings by the original designers for all of Monotype's hot metal typefaces, from the earliest - Modern series 1 (1900). With the drawings are all the associated correspondence, trial proofs, and statistics, giving a unique insight into the process of the design of some of the world's most famous typefaces.

This material continued to be important - it was essential to the process of transferring many typefaces to new formats as technologies changed, for instance to phototypesetting and then digital formats moving Monotype from pencil to pixel.

A storehouse of information about many of the world's classic typefaces currently in common use, the archive is a huge source of potential inspiration for contemporary designers. Monotype are starting the painstaking process of dusting off these design artefacts and making them more widely availiable.

If you'd rather see the actual work Monotype are exhibiting a selection from the archive until 23 November, at Metropolitan Wharf E1.

This film gives a flavour of some content.

Pencil to Pixel is supported by: SEA Design | D&AD | The University of Reading | Eye Magazine | The Drum | GFSmith | Pureprint Group