Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book Arts Tuesday-Letterform Archive

A wonderful contribution to the digital world. From the site:

The Letterform Archive collects inspirational analog artifacts to digitize in high fidelity, for all who love letters. It is curated by Rob Saunders, who has been collecting for over 35 years while pursuing a career as a designer, teacher, publisher, and consultant. This site is intended for inspiration, research, and teaching. All photographs and text are original (unless otherwise noted). You are welcome to share the images on this site for non-commercial purposes, provided you credit and link to LetterformArchive.org.


A number of people have asked me what we’re all about, so here goes.

1. Letterforms

Why? Short answer, because I love ‘em, always have.

Why not Typography Archive? Because Letterform embraces the entire history and future of letterforms, before, after, and beside the dominance of typography. Twelve of the letters in our logo are not typographic, does that make them any less inspiring?

Some have asked, are you focused on letterforms in isolation? No, that would be daft. It’s equally about design with letterforms, and things that go with them. So isn’t that really just the history of graphic design? Yes, but with a special focus on letterforms.

For a better idea of our scope, just browse the site.

2. Imaging

We want to raise the bar in imaging graphic design.

How? By capturing the tactile aesthetics of the object, not only digitizing what’s on the surface. Scanning and traditional copy photography won’t do, because they don’t capture texture well. What’s needed is high resolution photography of original works with lighting carefully tuned to capture tactility.

Our goals include:
Sufficient resolution so that you can zoom in to see detail,
Appropriate capture of surface texture,
Full spreads and full margins with edges showing so you see the whole design, and
Consistent color which captures even the subtle variations of “white” papers.

Note that these goals exceed not only what’s generally available on the internet, but also in some ways transcend the limitations of print in reproducing graphic design.

There’s a lot of inspiring design bouncing around the internet, but the quality of the imaging is terribly inconsistent and often quite low. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as you recognize the limitations of what you’re seeing – it mirrors both the convenience and the quality limitations of compressed music.

When folks come to visit, they often say about some iconic piece of design that’s been reproduced everywhere: “I feel like I’ve never really seen it before.” Nothing can replace that experience, but high fidelity imaging is certainly a step in the right direction.

On the gallery page, you can search by year and subject. Enjoy!

Letterform Archive

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