Master Typographer Paul Soady Writes New Book on Eric Gill
William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, was not a remarkable man. But his name will be remembered forever – at least among type designers and font enthusiasts – because his gravestone was cut by English craftsman and master stone mason Eric Gill (1882-1940), a talented artist and deeply complicated figure. The inscriptional font Gill used for Ward’s headstone became the basis for Monotype’s Perpetua, one of the world’s most widely used book fonts, and is now the subject of a new book.
In the early 1970s, Paul Soady, then a type director at Ogilvy Benson & Mather, bought a “gravestone rough” by Gill in a London book shop. Now an art director, designer and associate adjunct professor at Art Center College of Design, Soady, along with his co-writer Simon Varey, Ph.D., offer a new take with original research devoted mostly to Perpetua. Simon has sadly passed away since they completed the text of the book.
With countless digital fonts available to the current student, Soady feels strongly that a true understanding of the history and significance of artists like Gill is vital to a complete design education. After all, these are people who conceived of and cut by hand some of the most ubiquitous fonts we see today. Through a Samsung Faculty Enrichment Grant, Soady was able to travel to England, pursue his research, and do some gravestone rubbings of his own.
Two Men, One Type Face was a true labor of love for the authors, Soady says, “and from what I can find, the only book written about a single item of Gill’s work.” A limited edition of 250 handmade books is being printed by Traction Press. “Including the halftones,” Soady adds. “Very tricky!”
True to the inspiration for this particular work, the book cover is a deeply engraved cardboard replica of the now-famous William Humble Ward gravestone, so lucky owners may do rubbings all their own. Art Center’s James Lemont Fogg Memorial Library will sponsor a book signing and a copy will be donated to the rare books archive. Collectors can purchase copies from the artist.
The Samsung Faculty Enrichment Fund is an endowed fund that serves as Art Center’s primary faculty enrichment opportunity. Money is made available each year in grants of up to $5,000, awarded according to the merit and relevance of applicant proposals. Application forms are posted on the Faculty Council page on inside.artcenter.edu during the spring term, and proposals are judged by an impartial panel of art, design and humanities professionals who work outside of the Art Center community.