When we saw today’s release of the summer reading list for the University of Reading typeface design students, one title stood out. Gerry Leonidas, director of the program, has put together a great index of references that includes an influential monograph by William Addison Dwiggins.
Dwiggins, an American illustrator and book designer, came to type design later in life. He wrote WAD to RR: a letter about designing type to colleague Rudolph Ruzicka in 1940, offering rare insight into the typeface design process. We pulled out our copy of the Dwiggins text from our collection.
Dwiggins, who is credited with coining the term “graphic designer”, is a particularly compelling character for the lively variety of his work. In addition to his work in advertising, book design, calligraphy and type design, he also operated a marionette theater (recently highlighted in The Daily Heller). Though he studied lettering with Frederic Goudy as a young man, he didn’t take up type design until his late forties, when he was invited by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company to create a contemporary sans-serif typeface that then turned into the idiosyncratic sans Metro.