Collaborative PhD Studentship: The typeface designs of Eric Gill

gerry_leonidas's picture

This Collaborative Doctoral Award Studentship is between the University of Reading and St Bride Library, London.

The Typeface Designs of Eric Gill

STARTING OCTOBER 2011

An AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award studentship (fully funded fees and maintenance) between the University of Reading and St Bride Library, London is available to a suitably qualified UK or EU student.

The period in which Eric Gill's typefaces were first manufactured was the golden age of hot metal typesetting and Gill himself is arguably the most important British typeface designer of the twentieth century. However, as an artist he did not have the necessary technical knowledge of type production and so craftsmen and engineers also played a role in manufacturing Gill's typefaces. This research will document the complete body of Gill's work as a typeface designer for the first time; explain the role he played in the conception and manufacture of each of his designs; evaluate the impact of hot-metal typesetting technology on Gill's typefaces and investigate the extent to which this was carried forward into subsequent versions which were produced for photocomposition and digital typesetting.

In addition to extensive archival research at St Bride Library this doctoral research will draw on the archives of the Monotype Corporation Type Drawing Office held by Monotype Imaging, and of Ditchling Museum.

Supervision will be by Dr Rob Banham and Professor Paul Luna in Reading, and Mr Nigel Roche at St Bride Library. The successful candidate will be expected to spend extended periods of research time at St Bride Library, for which travel expenses from Reading will be provided.

Apart from the normal criteria for the selection of research students, specific criteria for selection for this studentship are

- suitability for archival research

- first degree/MA ideally in an aspect of design practice or design history, or a related field such as history of art or history of technology

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Rob Banham: r.e.banham@reading.ac.uk

Application forms can be obtained from c.davidson@reading.ac.uk, and should be accompanied by a CV and a relevant example of writing.

Closing date for applications: 24 June 2011

Interviews are likely to be held at St Bride Library on 14 July 2011

***

Link here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/ACS963/ahrc-collaborative-doctoral-award-stude...

Nick Shinn's picture

…as an artist he did not have the necessary technical knowledge of type production and so craftsmen and engineers also played a role in manufacturing Gill's typefaces.

That's a bit of a non sequitur.

The industrial structure employed by the large foundries was predicated on division of labor, so no one involved, artist or otherwise, could play all the roles themselves—except perhaps Morris Benton, who was a qualified engineer and owned the company! But even he delegated extensively, given the large number of typefaces he was responsible for designing.

Goudy and Koch (an artist if ever there was one) balked at being shut out, and through force of personality were able to go deeper into the manufacturing process, eventually doing their own punch cutting—a retro rebuttal of the high-tech manufacturing process that Benton did not pursue. One would have expected the uncompromising Gill, handy man with a chisel that he was, to be a punch-cutter too.

It will be fascinating for this research to address the creative tension between Gill and the type industry of the day.

The same issues of authorship and division of labour exist now, as no doubt they always have and will.

dezcom's picture

"The same issues of authorship and division of labour exist now, as no doubt they always have and will."

Yes, they still do, but today, it is far, far easier to "go it alone" than ever before. A typeface is no-longer tied to either a typesetting machine or company or country or even continent. The number of egos to get bruised is much smaller (fewer suits in the mix), the knowledge needed is achievable for the willing, and the effects of market failure are quite minimal compared to either metal or photo composition.

To me the greater comparison, is to any industry which leaped past the manufacturing and distribution hurdles of 20th century and before to an era where "the product" is some sort of unseen encoded mathematical description of what will eventually be seen by the user.

Great topic, Gerry! Can't wait for the book and movie!

hrant's picture

> One would have expected the uncompromising Gill, handy
> man with a chisel that he was, to be a punch-cutter too.

But -critically here- he wasn't.
In fact AFAIK his drawings didn't even show overshoots for round parts.

hhp

Syndicate content Syndicate content