Seems like I'm getting back into letterpress. Sometimes I can't tell if it's the typography or the engineering ingenuity. As far as this beautiful video is concerned, it's the machinery. This is such a beautiful machine; I've watched it a few times just focusing on the speed and grace of it all.
Thankfully other people were much more organised in taking photos of the day. First up is Barry (The Legibilitator) Spencer who took a few choice shots which I've narrowed down to those of us on the committee who helped put it all together. First up has to go to Laurie, because, he was rocking the linotype machine the whole day. For those that weren't that interested in design and typography, giving them something mechanical to wrap their head around is a big plus.
Meanwhile Peter from bLogos/HaHa loved the attention to detail put into the snags:
Most would just write it, surely - one minute and done - but these few sheets had been individually letter set, inked and printed, then taped up like any other, as if no big deal. As if it was the only way.
You should go check out the rest of his blog. Brilliant and random. The way they should be really. Look for the toilet roll.
Dad also had the forethought to take quite a few nice pictures of the day, starting off with Michael (the curator and owner) rocking the microphone. Unfortunately I was too busy inside to hear the speech; I didn't even know it was going on. And no, the guitar isn't his. That belonged to the Primitive Calculators, who split the crowd into those who couldn't stand the wall of noise, and those that thought they were the best thing to happen to music, ever. They even brought their own rock groupies.
And finally a gratuitous (yet heart warming) shot of me teaching some children how to get lead poisoning with a ludlow typecaster.
In case your hunger still hasn't been satiated, check out the rather extensive flickr collection. Meanwhile, our house photographer has taken some rather lovely shots on display at the museum's website.
By all accounts it was a roaring success. This was the only decent photo I got of the whole thing and it got much busier after this. The rest of my photos is of blurry chaos, which sums up the day. It got quite packed early on and didn't let up until closing time. Marilyn and I started off printing a few more posters to get them ready at about 1.30 and ten minutes later we had an audience of people looking at us, which was quite a shock. After scurrying around for a few minutes I fired up the Ludlow machine and showed people the wonders of typecasting and hot lead. The Primitive Calculators rocked the music, a little too hard, but rocked it regardless. We sold quite a few prints and ended up raising a sizeable chunk of money. All in all the day was a success and I think we're all resting after a busy month. Hopefully I'll get a few images sent my way and I'll be able to put them up over the following few days. Thanks to all who went and hope you had as much fun as me.
Update: I missed it yesterday but the Museum was on ABC Radio National promoting the fundraiser. At some point during the day I realised that there were quite a few families wandering around enjoying the place. It turns out that a little spot on the radio can do wonders in getting people through the door. I forgot that it was going to be on, although mum had the foresight to call me up when it was on and placed the phone next to the radio. Now I get to hear it in much better quality.
I hate streaming audio and have a nagging feeling that ABC delete old radio shows after a set time, so it's here for posterity. I just love the opening line - "So video killed the radio star, yeah? And it was computers that killed the old printing press".
A little project I've been working on for quite some time. And when I say 'little' project I mean a fairly large part of my life that has been consuming large parts of my time and with good reason. And when I say 'I've been working on' I mean to say a dedicated group of people for whom this would not have been possible and who have put in just as much and more time than me in getting this thing together. If you're free this Sunday, and really, who isn't free on a Sunday, come down to the museum and show your support. Hell, if you still have a job in this climate you owe it to your bank account and buy one of the the beautiful prints from some of Melbourne's leading artists and designers. If you're really awash with cash you probably owe it to yourself to buy a boxed set. But if you're skint, we understand. Either way, come down and have a look, watch the demonstrations, say hi, and have a wander around. There will be the usual sausage sizzle (with onions, don't worry), live music by The Primitive Calculators (we partially chose them for their name - how could we not) and general awesomeness all around. It's only a short walk from the train station and near the city if you have wheels. It's free entry, although donations will be very welcome and you'll get to see what it's all about. Point your mouse-clicker at the Museum's website for more information.
Run, don't walk to the Tobias Frere-Jones exhibition at The Narrows. You shouldn't even finish reading this post. Don't even check your hair on the way out. Tell your family and friends not to disturb you, put your phone on silent, or even turn it off and tell everyone that you are not to be disturbed for the next hour. I'll just wait until you come back. I don't mind. While you're there, pick up both of the sublime poster. If The Narrows isn't open, either wait outside for the next few day until it is or even better, go sit in the corner and think about what you've done until they open the doors again.
Right, now that you're back we can get back to it. If you were like me, and were hoping for sketches, typeface samples and other examples of his work and were initially disappointed. That is ok. If you stayed disappointed, shame on you. Go back there until it all washes over you. Look at each and every photo until you understand that you are witnessing the world seen through a genius. A meticulous genius who has recorded every important example of vernacular lettering in the lower half of Manhattan. This is not his work you're looking at, but the world through his eyes, which is a much greater gift.
What began as initial studies for Gotham grew into a sprawling collection of the history of New York. To anyone who doesn't know what Gotham is, refer to the Obama campaign posters, the 9/11 foundation stone, and pretty much any piece of design made in the past 2 years. You can clearly see the origins and structure of the face within the letterforms. Not to mention how much research went into it. Speaking of research, Tobias has provided the maps that he made to track Manhattan and where each example was. Each map is one days work. How much walking he could get done in a day recording as many examples as possible. Oh, I forgot to highlight that he made these maps. You want to see a man who knows his craft, who can make a map like nobody's business, you're looking at them right here. Clear, concise and with immaculate typography. But really, what do you expect? Pick up the posters, but you already knew that didn't you. One side is a huge grid of what seems to be all the photos, the other side, the maps. Look at the maps, understand the maps. Look at them again.
Too those of us who saw him speak at AGIdeas last week, know that we were blessed. But we already knew that didn't we. Some speakers seem to ramble on, uncertain of the direction of their presentation, others shout and try and whip the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. Not Tobias. Clear, concise, and presented with a deep understanding of how to move through narrative. Clearly presented, it was by far the best presentation throughout the whole conference. I wish I had have taken some photos of it, or recorded it to put up, but I was too spellbound to take my eyes off the subject matter. He went through how Gotham came to be, which was interesting, but something everyone knows by now. It was when he got onto Archer that I think I tried not to blink for fear of missing anything.
Oh, did I forget that I had a nice chat to him as well? Funny how some things seem to slip the mind. Two conversations, not one, but two. Not bragging, I just thought you might like to know so the next time you see me, you might want to get on your knees and worship me and the hand that shook his. And no, I wasn't beneath asking for an autograph. But that's for another day. I'll try and post images of the book celebrating the Gerrit Noordzij prize which he won. It's a fantastic book that chronicles his life's work. Interviews, history and what seems to be every typeface he's ever made. Its quite remarkable. And if you're lucky I'll show you what his autograph looks like. Meanwhile, go over and read the article in The Age if you want (need) more. If you're still here, and you haven't left, I urge you to run to The Narrows right now before it's too late.