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Counterpunch, 2nd edition: Making Type in the Sixteenth Century Designing Typefaces Now Paperback – December 14, 2011
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Counterpunch is written in an entertaining manner and Smeijer's wit frequently shines through....The book's carefully considered design, a bibliography, and a useful index complete a work that is warmly recommended to anyone interested in type. Kaspar Brand, Page --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Fred Smeijers is a Dutch type designer, teacher, and writer. After finishing as a student at the school of art at Arnhem, he worked as a typographic advisor to the reprographic company Océ, then became a founding member of the graphic design practice Quadraat, which provided the name for his first published typeface (FontShop, 1992). Smeijers has a whole range of distinctive typefaces to his credit, including Renard (The Enschedé Font Foundry, 1998) and Arnhem, Fresco, Sansa, and Custodia. These latter are all distributed by OurType, the company that he co-founded. His books are Counterpunch (1996) and Type now (2003). He is a winner of the Gerrit Noordzij prize (2001), and is Professor of Digital Typography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig.
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Top Customer Reviews
Along the way, he fell in love with the metal that he shaped into punches. He became quite lyrical about it: "... you feel nothing but delight in this substance, with such a strong and fine substance, which we call steel." He even became jealous of the old-timers, who remember alloys of the past that yielded even more gracefully to the punchcutter's caress. I have to admit, I've worked metal (though not steel), and I know just how that passion developed.
There's more about the history of letterforms and the punchcutters that brought them to life, and about the pleasures there are in being an amateur historian. There's more, too, about current and future practice in type design. This brings us to the one point where I disagree with Smeijers, a statement that I just can't believe he made. He mentions letters on screens, objects that he lumps together as "anything that can carry information and which is able to refresh itself." Earlier, he gave lengthy descriptions of the difference between letterpress and laser printer results, in sharpness of edge and many other dimensions. All those same differences, and more, distinguish CRTs from plasma panels or LCDs, and all the different LCDs from wall displays to cell phones. Perhaps he has since learned to look at modern displays the same way he looks at the older media, or maybe another writer will need to make the distinctions.
The only real reason to criticize this book would come from incorrect expectations. It's not directly about how a modern typographer can use modern tools to get the daily jobs done. It's about the practices of times past - they do bear on today's work, but only in subtle and indirect ways.
Highly recommended for the serious typographer or historian of western technology.
Look closely at the cover of this volume. After you've read it, and understand the counterpunch/punch process, you see that the entire story is told on the cover in a bit of brilliant graphic design.
Most remarkably, he also taught himself to make his own steel type punches - his practical experiments shone new light on the subject and showed the implausibility of some accepted accounts of how things were done.
The book is engagingly written. It's a visual delight too, with text set in the author's `Renard' type and illustrated with his pencil sketches.
It is greatly illustrated, beautifully designed and so lively written that you have to read it like a novel, not able to stop anymore. I hope Fred Smeijers continues writing so interesting books.
Read and enjoy!