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Learning From the Streets: Lessons from the postmodern Mexican blackletter hand

It is well-identified where Western calligraphy models come from. After centuries of tradition, practice, and manuscript production (and admiration!), one can ponder where they are in terms of location and, of course, style. Blackletter is one of the most recognisable hands, gaining a strong presence in the collective imagination since the late middle ages, and was pivotal in the development of type in terms of letterforms and spacing. Blackletter has also been present in the Mexican landscape since the XVIth century, first as calligraphy for church choir books and later in metal typefaces. Still, during the late XXth century, it took the streets by storm, maintaining the mysticism that gothic lettering evokes but also adding some disrespectful novelties, naive in some cases and utterly fun in others. Fascinating to recognise it as a new tradition, different or apart from the original European flavor. This presentation will give an overview of the styles displayed in Mexican cities, such as Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Teziutlán, to mention some, and what Jesús Barrientos Mora has learned about their ductus, now grown as models and added to the syllabus of his calligraphy course for bachelor students.

Jesús Barrientos Mora

Jesús Barrientos Mora

Jesús Barrientos Mora is Associate Professor at BUAP (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla) and since 2014 research fellow at the Scaliger Instituut, at the Leiden University Library. Author of the book Legado de los Elzevir (2015) and certified in Typeface Design (University of Reading, 2018), he has lectured in several institutions like the Dublin Institute of Technology (2015), Warsaw Academy of Arts (2016), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (2017), the University of Birmingham (2018) and the Sheffield Hallam University (2019). His typefaces are currently distributed through the Monotype channels and have been awarded by the Biennale Tipos Latinos, Biennale Iberoamericana de Diseño, and Premios Clap, participating in many exhibitions in the Americas and Europe.

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Twitter @BarrientosJesus