Background, where-to-buy and eye candy Published in March, , Dutch Type was sold out about four years later. It is now frightfully expensive at antiquarian bookshops, online or brick-and-mortar, and I do feel kind of bad about that. But for various reasons — organisational, economic, and personal — no new edition was started up until early The reprint self-published by Jan under his Druk Editions label came out on October 1st, It was sent to c. Having been fascinated by letterforms since an early age, I drew logos and headlines throughout my school and university years, but never studied design.
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By: Steven Heller June 11, Dutch Type, originally published in , is among my favorite books on type for its deep scholarship and broad brushstrokes. Printed in an edition of 3, copies, it sold out in three years. Not bad for a book of such specialized interest. So rather than rest on such dubious laurels, in author Jan Middendorp decided to self-publish a near-identical reprint of Dutch Type, and successfully financed the production with crowdfunding.
I spoke with Middendorp about his rationales. Find book outlets here. What are the distinguishing characteristics from the past? And is there an aesthetic, formal or philosophical quality that distinguishes it from today? In past centuries, Dutch text type — which until about should be referred to as type from the Low Lands, i. Some keywords: practicality, openness, sturdiness.
Also: probably the first type culture that consistently tried out larger x-heights and shorter extenders. However, that spirit is somehow visible throughout the centuries, culminating in the highly original work of 20th century figures like Jan van Krimpen, Bram de Does. Gerrit Noordzij and Gerard Unger. Devoting most of its pages to the twentieth century, my book also features hundreds of examples of individualistic lettering — from geometrically construction Art Deco shapes to commercial art and script forms — with many lettering designers showing a highly personal and eclectic approach which seems to have little patience for nostalgia.
This book is an important chronicle of a significant legacy. How long did you research? And write? Thank you! My research had three parallel tracks, which happened simultaneously. I spent many hours in libraries and archives; I met and interviewed practically all living type designers in or from the Netherlands. And finally: I indulged in an intuitive kind of research that was often pure serendipity and mostly consisted of visits to dozens of antiquarian bookshops, book fairs and markets.
It was hard work, but also great fun. My wife and I chanced upon work that was forgotten, well-known but hard to find, or simply shouting at us to be bought and not too expensive.
Between and the years of research and writing I wrote for various magazines, did graphic design for cultural institutions in Belgium, and also worked as an editor and designer for the Dutch-Flemish FontShop. The latter opened up the digital type design world in a very informal and enjoyable way. As for the digital era: I did look into all type designers that came from the Netherlands or worked there permanently and I only left out a few individuals whose seemed unprofessional or had stopped working in type after a few years.
In general, even the imperfect work was often intriguing and very personal. I may have underestimated a couple of designers who were just starting up at the time. You published in Now using your own imprint you republished based on crowd-funding sources.
Do you have a sense about why copies was the limit? Those 3, copies were the run that Publishers chose for the original edition; it seemed a very reasonable number. However, the edition was sold out after about 4 years, and for various reasons, there was no reprint.
When their imprint was taken over by the Architecture Institute, the original owners gave me back my rights. I was too busy as an editor and consultant for FontShop International and, later, MyFonts, to respond to the many requests I received. But in the time was right. Proposals from other publishers had not really convinced me, and the plan to thoroughly update the book felt more and more like a bad idea. Many people loved, and desired, the original book.
A rigorous update would have meant: rewriting the second half, and replacing much of the intriguing pieces in it by new, possibly less cutting-edge work. And so I produced a near-facsimile of the original, printed at the same printer and sold at the same price as in After an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign I decided to produce 3, copies.
Maybe that was a bit too optimistic. We encountered problems I had not expected. I had to return to the printer in Belgium a couple of times to experiment with alternative technique. Similar thing for the shipment: many copies were lost or damaged by the couriers that the fulfilment agency had hired. I suddenly found myself a business man and administrator — that must have happened to hundreds of software and font designers who decided to go it alone.
So I have welcomed the help of various retail platforms, including the international distributor Idea Books in Amsterdam, who also sold the book worldwide in I understand the importance of having this book remain in print. Have you been receiving requests, especially from students? So in the end … I felt producing a high-quality reprint was my duty. Some books go onto the web and are there forever. But I actually did a very informal survey on Twitter to find out if an affordable PDF version online could work.
Without their enthusiasm, the printed version might never have materialized. Finally, what is different, if anything, about this edition? First of all: the interior looks even fresher and more precisely printed. As for the text: My personal copy of the first edition had several dozens of Post-Its, marking tiny errors: a wrong date or nationality here, a typo there.
A Dutch Type History Redux
Dutch Type by Jan Middendorp