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MEDIUM SHIFT Taking letters where they’ve never been before

Although calligraphy is usually born on paper, with pen and ink, most of my work winds up on some other material: glass, textile, film, performance, metal, human skin. In my view calligraphy, which is an ancient craft, can become a contemporary craft and even artform by leaving some of its traditional parameters behind.  The first rule for me has been: move it off paper and onto something else, some place it has never been.  Calligraphy is a craft in competition with a more powerful and more contemporary one: typography.  Calligraphers would be squeezed out of the information technology market if they did not do something new and something typography cannot do as well.  This process of finding new territory for an ancient craft has driven most of my career.

I am fool enough to challenge the supremacy of typography over visual language in the modern age. The so-called neutrality of type is, for me, a lie. To make this a goal in font design can be a severe limitation of the design process, because the emotive, expressive power of letters is then too strongly sublimated to “function” and the gray texture of type. Experimental typography is now finding ways of using digital technology to reinsert expression and graphic invention into typographic letters.


Mr. Brody Neuenschwander