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American Type Design and Designers Paperback – February 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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American Type Design & Designers, by David Consuegra, is a comprehensive resource of American type designers that connects biographies of typographers with the intent and usage of typefaces. Students and designers would greatly benefit from thoroughly reading and referencing this book in their research. Great detail and bibliographical data are provided to easily investigate topics further. Few readers of any professional practice could leave without thoroughly understanding type and how to design effectively after reading Consuegra's book and investigating the references he cites.

David Consuegra interposes his opinion of good type design where it is appropriate. The experience Consuegra brings to this book is evident, and confirms accuracy in the text. He has chosen to highlight the development of type and the relationships between typefaces, including limited descriptions of specific usage. The biographies themselves are set in one of the typographer's typefaces and many logotype and design uses are exemplified.

A brief history of the letterform is given in the introduction to help the reader understand the development of type. I would still recommend reading Phillip Meggs' A History in Graphic Design, referenced in Consuegra's book, for further historical background. Though, Consuegra's extensive timeline is both enlightening and necessary. I would also recommend that a colorful, more visual approach to the timeline be designed to best communicate it's content.

Alphabetizing the typographers is a fantastic solution, supported by an alphabetical glossary of typefaces. The index and early page references are mismatched on occasion. However, the book is so clearly laid out, that an intelligent reader could locate their reference point. This is in part due to the extensive nature of the material, which though broad, still excludes a few typographers. However, I can recall no such comprehensive book centered on typographers that is an easy to access tool for designers needing to sharpen their typographical skills.

This book includes an extensive bibliography, citing any reference a designer will need. I also appreciate that Consuegra respects the intelligence of his audience, satisfying any insatiable curiosity. He provides a well researched history of type design in America.

--- Jennifer Idol
Newsletter Chair, Austin Chapter
AIGA, American Institute of Graphic Arts

About the Author

David Consuegra is professor emeritus of graphic design, layout, and typography at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a member of the International Trademark Center in Belgium. The author of several books on graphic design, he lives in Bogotá, Colombia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press (February 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581153201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581153200
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,268,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The design of the book is like a handful of other contemporary "Encyclopedias" -- it approaches the subject matter from different perspectives in different formats which relate to one another. As such, it does not present material in a linear historical fashion as a whole.

To explain, let me provide a summary TOC. Note that the standard format for text is 3 columns of densely packed text. If printed in a standard format with 1 column and a larger font, the book size would likely double in size:
1. Preface -- which explains the motivation and difficulties in the project.
2. Introduction -- 6 pages. A history of American typography.
3. Chronology of Type related events -- 33 pages of calendarized information from 1600 to 2000 -- designers, foundries, etc.
4. Comparative American/European Type Chronology -- 4 pages detailing the creation/usage of fonts on both continents by year.
5. Type Designs in Alphabetical Order -- 2 pages listing all fonts in the book in alpha order (located under their designer).
6. 218 pages of designer biographies with significant typefaces, comment, and examples of use.
7. 8 pages of American type foundry history by company.
8. Glossary of Typographical Terms, 30 pages.
9. Bibliography
10. Index -- 17 pages -- 4 column.

When one considers history of typography, the American impact doesn't immediately come to mind. The history of sources for typography extend millenia earlier than the Western presence in the Americas. And, in the 20th century, the Jugendstihl and Bauhaus creation of a simpler typeface of sans serif and use of type in design stand as monumental events more recently.

Americans, more pragmatic, didn't have the overhang of reading German blackletter at every opportunity.
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David Consuegra was known as the patriarch of graphic design in Colombia, an one of the most praised in Latin America; this book is by no means the best example of his masterly as designer. A meticulous research of American graphic design with superb examples. A guide to good designers.
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Well researched, really opened my eyes to contributions Americans have made to the art. I was a Euro snob, and still am, but Morris Fuller Benton's breadth is impressive and unparalleled. I may admire Frutiger most, but acknowledge I am more like Benton than he.
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When I ordered this book, I suppose I was searching for more information about American type designers such as R. Hunter Middleton, Morris Benton, and others. The biographies are brief but there are alphabet showings of many of the designer's fonts. Other sections include chronological material, type face lists, and more. I am pleased that I saw this and purchased it. One of the nice features is that it includes the "old timers" as well as recent digital type font designers... "the old and the new"! For anyone interested in type fonts, the designers, and historical information, this is a worthwhile addition to your collection. Where one book leaves off, another follows! This will help fill some of the gaps.
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