Matthew Carter is among the preeminent type designers of the 20th century, an artist whose work has helped shape the familiar graphic looks of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated as well as The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post.
The School of Art is presenting Typographically Speaking: The Art of Matthew Carter at its Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Ave.
The exhibition includes dozens of drawings, sketches and printed examples — drawn largely from Carter’s own archives — documenting the creation of the fonts Bell Centennial (1978), the standard for telephone directories; ITC Galliard (1978), ranked by design critics as one of the 20th century’s most significant design accomplishments; and Microsoft’s Verdana (1994) and Georgia (1996) families, among many others.
Typographically Speaking will open with a reception for Carter from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 10 and will remain on view through Nov. 29.
In addition, Carter will participate in a panel discussion on intellectual property rights and typography at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in Anheuser-Busch Hall. That evening, he will lecture on “Truth to Materials in Type: Printer Fonts and Screen Fonts” at 7:30 p.m. in Steinberg Auditorium.
Carter’s 40-year career spans a technological revolution in type design, from the days of hot metal foundries and linotype assemblers to the introduction of commercial phototype in the 1960s and the modern era of desktop publishing.
Born in 1937, Carter is the son of renowned designer Harry Carter and originally trained as a punchcutter at the Ensche type foundry in the Netherlands with the legendary Paul H. Rädisch, one of the craft’s true masters. (Punchcutting involves transferring letterforms onto the ends of short steel bars that are then used to create the brass molds for casting lead type.)
By the early 1960s, however, Carter was heading the typographic program at Crosfield Electronics, the British manufacturing agent for the Lumitype phototypesetting machine. From 1965-1981, he served as house designer for Mergenthaler Linotype, the company that had invented linotype nearly 100 years before and, during Carter’s tenure, Linofilm.
In 1981, Carter and fellow designer Mike Parker founded Bitstream, the first digital font foundry, in Cambridge, Mass. Bitstream quickly became a giant in the industry, leading Carter — who wished to focus more specifically on design issues — to launch a second shop in 1991 with designer Cherie Cone.
In the years since, Carter & Cone has produced specially commissioned types for Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, U.S. News & World Report, the Walker Art Center and Wired, among others. Most recently, Carter’s fonts were used in the redesign of BusinessWeek magazine.
Many of Carter’s letterforms have been crafted to solve particular problems or meet specific technological needs. For example, Bell Centennial, commissioned by AT&T, is clean sans serif design characterized primarily by vertical and horizontal strokes with short curves and distinctive open “notches” at points of intersection. These notches compensate for ink spread on rough directory paper and allow the font to remain legible at a small, six-point size.
Similarly, the sans serif Verdana and serif Georgia were designed to accommodate the pixilation of onscreen display, remaining legible even at small sizes and low resolutions.
In all, Carter has designed more than two-dozen typefaces or families thereof, including Auriga (1965), Bitstream Charter (1987), Elephant (1992), Helve-tica Compressed (1966), Mantinia (1993), Miller News (1997 & 1999), National Geographic Caption (1979), Olympian (1970) and Snell Roundhand (1966).
Carter is a “Royal Designer for Industry”; a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale; chairman of the type designers’ committee of AtypI (Association Typographique Internationale); and a senior critic at Yale University.
His many honors include the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, the Frederic W. Goudy Award for outstanding contribution to the printing industry, the Type Directors Club Medal and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Medal.
Typographically Speaking was organized by the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and curated by Margaret Re, assistant professor of visual arts. The exhibition and accompanying publication are made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In St. Louis, the exhibition is sponsored by the schools of Art and Law, the Olin School of Business, Olin Library Special Collections, Department of Art History and Archaeology and Program in American Culture Studies (the latter two in Arts & Sciences), as well as the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Art & Art History Department and AIGA student chapter.
Additional local support is provided by Bliss Collaborative; Checkmark Communications; Design Lab Inc.; Doug McKay; emdash; McCord Design; Plum Studio; ProWolfe Partners; and TOKY Branding Design.
Des Lee Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Sundays and by appointment.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 621-8735.