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UAL Research Online

Showing Type

Dixon, Catherine (2004) Showing Type. In: TypeBookOne. Jeremy Tankard Typography, Lincoln, pp. 6-13. ISBN 0954773608

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Dixon, Catherine

This illustrated essay explores the idea of the type specimen historically as a way of contextualising issues surrounding the production of a type specimen within the current markets.

The essay’s critical contribution is to broaden the limited commercial description of specimen material typical within the field by drawing together a range of perspectives. The type specimen is interrogated not only as design object and branding exercise but also in terms of its role within academic scholarship and as a tool of craft-based discipline and trade. A functional link is made with the other lettering trades of stone-cutting and calligraphy.

In 'Showing Type' I was able to explore the relationship between technology and the contemporary market, discursively outlining issues relating to the idea of the artefact within the increasingly intangible context of online product design.

Located within a type specimen itself, this writing intentionally plays with traditions of design and scholarship within the commercial typographic sphere. A model for authoritative information-giving as a reinforcement of quality and worth borrowed from early twentieth century specimen examples is here reworked to explore appropriately the ideas of 'value' and 'collectability' reflected through the idiosyncratic use of a book format.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

Catherine Dixon

Research Interests

Type design: history and practice
Public lettering
Type classification
Book design
Practice-based research in graphic design
Visualizing information

Current Research

Recent research continues to focus upon the typeform description activities which directed my doctoral work. My PhD - A description framework for typeforms; an applied study - was a pragmatic response to an identified need for a new approach to typeform description, a case argued in Eye no. 18. A main research outcome is a new model for typeform description which challenges previous assumptions in the field. Enquiry also came to explore an appropriate methodology for such research located within my ongoing studio-practice as a designer.

Implementation of the typeform description framework within new environments is a particular research interest: see the description of Times Classic in Eye no. 40 and the publications Type & typography by Phil Baines & Andrew Haslam (Laurence King 2002 in UK, US, German and Spanish editions).

For the purposes of further refining description activities, I continue to pursue earlier research interests in the broadening of existing type and letterform histories, with vernacular traditions providing a particular focus for exploration. Material which has informed articles for Druk, Point, TypoGraphic and publiclettering.org.uk has now been expanded in a book Signs, lettering in the environment, co-authored with Phil Baines (Laurence King, August 2003). Illustrations draw extensively from our ongoing visual documentation of this field. Lisbon is soon to feature in this process of documentation, with a collaborative project currently at planning stage. Experience gained from these various projects is also informing my current involvement in the development of a website intended to enhance accessibility to the public lettering content of the Central Lettering Record, a predominantly photographic archive which forms part of the colleges Museum & Study Collection.

Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Jeremy Tankard Typography
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: 2004
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2009 12:55
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2010 14:18
Item ID: 1097
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1097

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