Early Renaissance -
❖ Renaissance means rebirth or revival - transition to the modern world
❖ Some key attributes of the Renaissance:
• Renewed interest in learning from Greek and Rome
• Interest in the sciences, math, astronomy, and learning
• Books become diverse in subject matter rather than just religious
• Printing was the technology that made possible the increased scholarship of the
Graphic earmarks of Renaissance design:
❖ Move away from the cruder illustrated manuscripts to a more elegant
and formalized book design
❖ Love of floral ornamentation
❖ Rethought page design, letterform design, ornamentation, illustration and the
whole design of the book.
❖ Letterforms were less about angular mimicking of old manuscripts and drew more
on variations of old Roman alphabets.
❖ Development of true miniscule (lower case) letters
Began a divergence of blackletter versus Roman letterforms that would not be fully resolved until WWII.
Black letter vs Roman letters.
Evolution of Roman into Carolingian minuscule into Humanist minuscule.
Early printers designed trademarks to identify their books.
Based on their ideas of Egyptian hieroglyphs as only pictorial rather than phonetic—forerunner of
modern graphic logos and symbols
Nicolas Jenson (1420-1480) Moved from Germany to Venice and set up print shop.
Designed fonts that were more light, open and readable.
Thick and thin strokes in the letters
Designed the spaces between the letters and within the letters to achieve a more even tone on the page
for better readability
Aldus Manutius (1449-1515)
❖ First work in roman italic type about 1500.
First pocket books (octavo)
First use of italic type
First book with printed page numbers.
First title page.
First to use a semi-colon.
Designed by Francesco Griffo.
Based on cursive writing not used as emphasis but on it’s own because more words would fit
on each line.
In 1566, his grandson, Aldus Manutius the Younger, produced Orthographiae Ratio, the first book on the
principles of punctuation.
❖ King Charles VIII invaded and tried to conquer Italy
(1470’s-1547’s). He failed, but brought back the ideas and skills of the Italian Renaissance.
❖ “Golden age of French typography”. Developed books with roman types, title pages, initials.
❖ Despite war and the fighting between church and state, the humanist ideas prospered.
❖ Geoffroy Tory and Claude Garamond both became know for their many contributions to the field of
printing. Tory was a scholar, illustrator for illuminated manuscripts, wood engraver, lettering artist,
printer, engraver, book seller and publisher. He introduced the apostrophe and the accent mark. He
trained many new craftsmen and helped eliminate the heavy, dense page layout and use of Gothic
typography in French book making.
❖ Wrote and published Champ Fleury (1529), a 3 part book. Part 1 attempted to order French rules of
pronunciation and speech, Part 2 discussed the theory of roman letters and their proportions,
❖ Part 3 instructed on the construction of the 23 letters of the Latin alphabet (J U W were added later.)
on grid of 100 squares. Because of this he became one of the most influential graphic designers
of his century.
❖ Claude Garamond (1480-1561) was the first punch cutter to work independently of printing firms. His
roman type faces were so legible and widely used that he is credited with the major role in eliminating
gothic style from printers cases all over Europe except Germany. They allowed for closer word spacing,
tighter fit and harmony of capitols and lower case.
❖ He was apprenticed to Geoffroy Tory. Around 1530 he established his independent type foundry to sell
type to printers. His work finalized the move from type that imitated handwritten forms and standardized
the printed letter form. His typefaces have been in use now for over 450 years.
❖ Eighteenth century saw more graphic design creativity and originality.
❖ King Louis XIV set up a royal printing office in 1640 but he wanted letter to be design by more “scientific”
❖ New system of construction of roman capitols was based on a square divided into 64 units, each of which
was further divided into 36 smaller units. Owed even less to the calligraphic look of handwriting and
more to harmony of mathematics but the final decisions were made by eye.
❖ Romain du Roi had increased contrasts between thick and thin, sharp horizontal serifs and an even
balance to each letterform.
❖ The typefaces designed for the royal printing office could only be used by them. Any other use was a
capitol offense. These begun the category of Transitional fonts.
Rococo - 1720-1770
❖ Florid, fanciful, intricate –ornament is based on S and C curves, scrollwork, plant forms derived from
nature and oriental art.
❖ Pierre Simon Fournier le Jeune established an independent type design and foundry business
at age of 24.
❖ 1737 he pioneered the standardization of type sizes and nomenclature. He also initiated the idea of a
“type family” by having a variety of weights and widths that were based on the same design.
❖ Copperplate engraving also became popular because it allowed for all the curves and intricate
ornamentation popular at the time.
Rococo alphabet book - early 1700’s
❖ For 250 years the political and social climate was not conducive to design. (War, religious persecution,
censorship, government control of printing)
❖ 1660 Charles II demanded that the number of printers be reduced to no more than 20 “ by death or
otherwise” England looked to continent for design and typography.
❖ William Caslon (1692-1766) apprenticed to and engraver of gunlocks and barrels. He opened his own
shop and added cutting of gilding tools and letter stamps for bookbinders. He was urged to take up type
design and punch cutting with almost immediate success.
❖ His second font was Caslon.
❖ Caslon Old Style with italic.
❖ For the next 60 years this was virtually the only font used in England and was introduced
to the American colonies.
Used by Benjamin Franklin and for the official
printing of the Declaration of Independence.
❖ Caslon’s fonts were not especially innovative but were comfortable to read and easy on the eye.
❖ Increased the contrast between thick and thin to add variety and a rhythmic texture to add visual interest.
❖ His foundry stayed in his family and in business 1720 - 1960’s.
Caslon - early 1700’s
❖ John Baskerville (1706-1775)
❖ Made a fortune in manufacture of japanned ware and in 1751 he returned to his first love
which was typography.
❖ Fonts balanced old school and more modern types. Wider. More contrast between thick and thin
different placement of thickest parts of letters.
Baskerville - early 1700’s
❖ Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) Italian. Was headed to England to work with Baskerville but was
offered a job to head the official press of the Duke of Parma. He was later invited by the Vatican to
establish a press to print classics in Rome but stayed in Parma.
❖ Move away from the Rococo of French aristocracy back to classical forms of Greek and Roman art.
Baskerville - early 1700’s
❖ Trend toward lighter typestyles first designed by Fournier le Jeune.
❖ Bodoni redesigned roman letterforms to give them a more geometric and mechanical feel.
❖ Redesigned serifs to be hairlines with sharp right angles and made the thins match.
❖ Overall a lighter appearance and regularity was in keeping with the emerging period of machine
and industrial era.
End of an era
❖ Printing had been a handcraft and graphic design involved they layout of metal type and hand carved
wooden block prints.
❖ Political and social changes with American and French revolutions.
❖ England was the center of the changes from a rural, agrarian and handmade society to an industrial
society with machine manufacturing.