Posts Tagged ‘william dwiggins’

by Allan Haley

In addition to creating the Electra® typeface family – and many other important typeface designs in the early part of the last century – William Dwiggins also fashioned a couple of alter egos. He employed them to comment on his work and the state of the typographic arts. The most well known was Dr. Hermann Püterschein, a transplanted German of irrefutable typographic knowledge and taste. Another was Kobodaishi, a patron saint of the lettering arts and great Buddhist missionary in ancient Japan. It was Kobodaishi that Dwiggins turned to for guidance in the drawing of Electra.

“I told him,” wrote Dwiggins, “what I was doing and said that it would help if he could give me a kind of an idea what the type style was going to be in the next 10 years – what was going to be the fashionable thing, etc.” Among other bits of advice, Kobodaishi told Dwiggins, “take your curves and streamline ’em. Make a line of letters so full of energy that it can’t wait to get to the end of the measure.”

Dwiggins clearly followed Kobodaishi’s counsel. Electra is a design that radiates energy. Although Electra falls within the “modern” or “neoclassical” family of type styles, it is not based on any traditional model, nor is it an attempt to revive or reconstruct any historic typeface.

Jim Parkinson’s newest typeface, Parkinson Electra, an interpretation of Electra just announced on, has more than a similar appearance to the earlier version. In the design process, Parkinson felt as if he was getting advice on how to interpret the original’s shapes and proportions. It wasn’t the mythological Kobodaishi, however. It was Dwiggins, himself.

“As I was working on (the design) something unusual happened,” recalls Parkinson. “I was no longer just interpreting a typeface. I felt like I was beginning to understand Dwiggins’ thought process. It was almost as if I knew the man.”

Parkinson Electra is not a remake of Dwiggins’ design. The newer typeface is slightly heavier than the original, and its serifs are more delicate. Parkinson’s design also has a softer quality and spaces somewhat tighter. Parkinson Electra does, however, exude the energetic aura of the original.

The Parkinson Electra family is available as desktop fonts from the, and websites. It is also available as Web fonts from

Click here to learn more about Parkinson Electra.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Allan Haley

Volume Eleven of U&lc is chock full of great examples of typographic design, calligraphy and illustration. In addition, the first commercial typeface of Jovica Veljovic was announced in Volume Eleven Number One and ITC released its first typeface that was the result of a collaboration of artistry and technology in Volume Eleven Number Four.

Jovica Veljovic was living in the former Yugoslavia when Aaron Burns, the president of ITC, met him. Upon seeing the young calligrapher’s work, Burns immediately realized that he was in the presence of exceptional talent and encouraged Veljovic to take up typeface design. The ITC Veljovic™ typeface family was first of many he drew for ITC. In his storied career, Veljovic went on to develop typefaces for Adobe and Linotype. Although he spends much of his time today teaching typography and type design near his home in Hamburg, Veljovic continues to add to his body of work. Monotype Imaging has recently made his newest designs, the ITC New Esprit™, Libelle™ and Veljovic Script™ typefaces, available.

The release of the ITC Leawood™ family was another milestone for ITC. It was the first ITC typeface design where software technology played an important role in the development process. Canadian designer Leslie Usherwood had drawn only a few italic and roman characters for Leawood before his fatal heart attack in 1983. Designers at Usherwood’s studio, however, were able to complete a basic character set in light and bold weights of the family. ITC turned these renderings over to URW, a German firm that developed one of the first digital font production technologies. With close design direction by ITC, URW’s technicians, using the company’s Ikarus™ software, finalized the four-weight family of ITC Leawood.

With articles on William Dwiggins, Frederic Goudy, Eric Gill and John Baskerville, my “Typographic Milestone” series was also in full swing in Volume Eleven. During the next few years, over a dozen more biographical sketches of significant contributors to the typographic arts were added to the series.

Click the PDFs below to find out what else was in U&lc Volume Eleven.

Low Resolution:

Volume 11–1 (Low Res).pdf (14.3 MB)

Volume 11–2 (Low Res).pdf (13.8 MB)

Volume 11–3 (Low Res).pdf (19.6 MB)

Volume 11–4 (Low Res).pdf (15.1 MB)

High Resolution:

Volume 11–1.pdf (76.9 MB)

Volume 11–2.pdf (50.2 MB)

Volume 11–3.pdf (88.7 MB)

Volume 11–4.pdf (70.8 MB)

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.


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