The strong typhoon Roke that I’d never experienced since I came to Tokyo had passed, the sky looks clear and I couldn’t believe it was a stormy yesterday but some branches of the tree along the side of the street were fallen, which was the evidence how the typhoon was strong.
The gallery is located in the embassy area nearby Roppongi, where is known as one of the most attractive area in Tokyo for the tourist. I visited there twice during the opening days and came there today to say good bye to the awesome works. I hope to see them again and wish to have a chance admiring them at some point. But I thought this might be the final chance as it is very rare to see Zapfs’ works.
This exhibition was organized by Japan Letter Arts Firum and Akira Kobayashi of Linotype. It contains nit only calligraphy works but also type design works. Regarding type design work, Linotype brought the correction sheet of The most impressive thing of works was that all works create spurb results by their awesome technique. The edge of the terminals had a tiny hook made by the broad nib pen, the crossing point of the strokes never had any chunky result. To reach this level, I couldn’t imagine how much I have to pay attention to every letter and the texture of the composition and keep training for a long time and work on the project with big love.
I realized (I’m afraid to say that) the digital version Diotima didn’t look so exciting to me compared with the letterpress version. The digital version seems to have less rich curves and spoiled something important feature while the letterpress has a beautiful hairline arches like the lowercase n and h looked really thin and beautiful. I don’t mean the digital technology is inferior than the letterpress technique. It might be that I just never knew that the letterpress quality enable to create rich curves.
I was very surprised to know that the metal plate of Das Blumen ABC by a carver August Rosenburger was not an engraved plate but a relief printing plate. I couldn’t believe that these thinner strokes was printed by the letterpress technique! It reminded me of the type engineering lecture I attended few weeks ago. I learned digital fonts are made not only by the type designer but also by the contribution and efforts of font engineers who usually don’t appear. For a freelance type designer like me, in most cases, we need to make everything from design sketches to generate an OpenType font by ourself, which means that we need to have skills to draw precise lines and clear knowledge on printing technique, in recent days, the knowledge on the screen device is also important. Das Blumen ABC was not accomplished without the collaboration work Hermann Zapf and Rosemburger and his craftsmanship. In the digital font era, we have to be a good type designer and also font engineer.
Akira Kobayashi mentioned on his blog that the reason why letterpress Diotima’s outline looks so soft. As I had the same feeling when I saw it yesterday, so I was trying to mention about that on my report. Of course I didn’t know the detail reason about it but I’m glad to clearly know that the digital version spoiled some design features. The outlines of the letterpress had irregular holes and cracks on purpose so that the lines can generate jaggy effect, which creates the soft line and beautiful composition texture. We used to think this technique should be avoided to apply for a digital version, otherwise, the data footprint will increase and it causes something printing error, even though we don’t care so much now since the OS and printer performance gradually improved. But I realized that the similar technique might be useful and helpful to avoid mechanical impression from the digital fonts.
I had to think that I was very lucky to see the show because the show was postponed due to the huge earthquake on 11th March in Tohoku region. The show was originally planned to be held around March. I’d been in the Netherlands at that moment, so I didn’t expect I would be able to visit the exhibition.