What is the relationship between calligraphy and typography in the Roman tradition? One way to explore this is to focus on the historical moment that type was invented. A decade ago Blaise Agüera y Arcas and Paul Needham raised a stir by asking just what did Gutenberg invent? The picture their research painted was an unexpected one of more gradual steps towards the realization of the technology for casting moveable type than we had previously understood. These steps seemed to show a kind of calligraphic thinking. In recent years more research has also been undertaken on the first Venetian roman types. Manuscripts have been found that show Italian humanists writing forms reminiscent of the venetian printers early work - and which pre-dates them. In this lecture Ewan Clayton reviews the evidence for the interplay of calligraphic and typographic understandings at the origins of European type design.
Ewan Clayton is a calligrapher and Professor in Design at the University of Sunderland. He grew up near to the village of Ditchling, home to the calligrapher Edward Johnston. Today Ewan divides his time between commissioned work, writing and teaching which includes the type programmes at Cooper Union and the University of Reading. For twelve years he worked as a consultant to Xerox PARC where his interest lay in researching the uses of documents in contemporary work places. His book on the history of writing, ‘The Golden Thread’, will soon be released in Turkish by Pegasus Publications.