Ritchietype meets Kelmscott

Phebe Teague

Ritchietype faces

I think that although there are some examples of modern typefaces in the textbook, there is a major lack in the exploration of typefaces created by current prominent designers. Typefaces nowadays are influenced by modern society, and although a lot of designers look back to the designs of the past, they can’t help but create from their current experience. Since so many societal, economic, and political changes have occurred since the time of William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, it is important to discover what influences designers of today are employing to fuel their creative process and compare them to past designers.

Ritchietype, STYLEZ OF LETTERS - TODAY *Y*", 2019.
Ritchietype, STYLEZ OF LETTERS – TODAY *Y*”, 2019.
Fig 2. Ritchietype, “when you feeling like quitting", 2018.
Fig 2. Ritchietype, “when you feeling like quitting”, 2018.

The efforts of the Kelmscott Press were interesting, in that it changed how printing houses thought of the printing process, and rivals took great inspiration, although largely modifying the delivery. While the Kelmscott Press looked back to Medieval printing techniques and wanted to produce their books entirely using archaic and outdated techniques for their time, other printing presses chose to replicate the final product using modern techniques (Horowitz, 60). While this created some turmoil within the printing community, the product of many books from this time were exceptional demonstrations of the capabilities from designers using the full extent of modern machines and that of hand-tools (Lee). A major point of focus from books at this time were the typefaces that were employed as well as the detailed foliage that went into each chapter page and cover pages (see fig 3) (Lee). Morris was enthralled with creating his own typeface and found inspiration from other incunabula from previous centuries.

Fig 3. Title page from "The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer" (Printed by William Morris, at the Kelmscott Press, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, 1896). One of 425 copies on paper.
Fig 3. Title page from “The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer” (Printed by William Morris, at the Kelmscott Press, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, 1896).

While Ritchie doesn’t look to ancient books or texts, his biggest inspiration is graffiti. Ritchietype is a freelance designer and letterer based in Zurich, Germany where he works on storefronts and in his sketchbook, designing typefaces for his personal use and in his murals. He started making graffiti when he was 15 years old, and thus spawned his interest in type and consequently creating his own typefaces. His work mainly uses paint, primarily in marker form, but he will often demonstrate unconventional mediums. A favourite of mine is the soapy residue on a glass stove-top that he draws, with his thumb, a phrase into using his notable smooth type. Even though there are numerous other artists in the community that are dedicating much of their life and work to creating new typefaces, artists like Ritchie that can not only produce traditional type, but can spawn new designs from mostly unrecognized art forms like graffiti, are a true diamond in the rough.

References

Horowitz, Sarah. “The Kelmscott Press and William Morris: A Research Guide.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, vol. 25, no. 2, 2006, pp. 60-65.

Lee, William Lamborn. “Kelmscott Press.” British Literary Publishing Houses, 1881-1965, edited by Jonathan Rose and Patricia Anderson, Gale, 1991. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 112. Gale Literature Resource Center, https://link-gale-com.ocadu.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/H1220000484/LitRC?u=toro37158&sid=LitRC&xid=7128847b. Accessed 29 Mar. 2020.

Ritchietype. “WE ARE BACK – STYLEZ OF LETTERS – TODAY *Y*.” Instagram, 28 September 2019, Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B29Yj2Nn-Xk/.

Ritchietype. “when you feeling like quitting.” Instagram, 15 July 2018, Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BlQDR-tAeuM/.

Wildwood: A Children’s Book

Wild Adventures
Phebe Teague

Part of a trilogy, Wildwood by Colin Meloy is the first book about two seventh-graders that follow a baby-snatching crow into an enchanted forest full of other-worldly creatures and thus embark on an adventure together (Carpenter). The book uses colour schemes and landscapes inspired from Portland, Oregon scenery, such as grey-greens and red-browns, as well as it pulls much literary inspiration from classic children’s book, such as C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (Brown). Further, many of the design choices echo the traditional colour schemes of the fairy tale “Red Riding Hood”, as well as incorporate a fusion of older children’s book line illustrations and Polish book designs from the 1960s (Brown, Carpenter). All 85 of the elaborate illustrations included in the book were created by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, who took full liberties with designing quirky characters and the illustrative, script-like text that accompanies many of them, such as on the cover (Brown).

Fig 1. Wildwood front cover. "Wildwood", August 30, 2011.
Fig 1. Wildwood front cover. “Wildwood”, August 30, 2011.

Although the book has quirky moments and humorous scenes, the overall feel of book conveys a murky essence, which is translated well into the illustrations found at every chapter beginning and scattered throughout its pages. The illustrations are whimsical and convey an inspiration for adventure, which attracts children sitting on the brim of self-exploration through literature. Ellis mainly used pen ink, grey tone gouache, or colour gouache to achieve her illustrations, which creates the overall classical look that she wanted to achieve (Brown). Her characters are simple, but sport eye-catching details that invite readers to spend endless moments admiring delicately painted scenes and the artistry that went into creating elaborate spreads and illustrated text. Since Ellis also created all the album covers for her husband’s band, adult fans have followed her work to this novel and have been drawn to reading the book, taking an interest in the rich language presented throughout the novel as well as finding an immense appreciation for a larger collection of Ellis’ works throughout its pages.

Works Cited

Brown, Rachel. “Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis on Their Latest Collaboration, ‘Wildwood’.” The Atlantic, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/09/colin-meloy-and-carson-ellis-on-their-latest-collaboration-wildwood/244890/.

Carpenter, Susan. “Indie Rocker Tunes Into the Book World: The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy Embarks On A Fantasy Series with ‘Wildwood’.” Los Angeles Times, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-xpm-2011-sep-07-la-et-colin-meloy-20110907-story.html.

Ellis, Carson. Wildwood book cover. 2011, Wildwood, Colin Meloy, Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2011. front cover.