For my semester project I’d like to do a creative project that incorporates the research of a designer with an interesting visual element rather than simply writing a paper. I really want to look more into Jack Stauffacher, who is a contemporary self-taught designer, and his revolutionary work with the printing press. As I was looking through the winners of the AIGA’s Medal, I found his work. He won the AIGA Medal in 2004 for his work with typography and the printing press. Stauffacher was such a great printer that he printed his first book in his early twenties! Another fun fact is that his favorite font is the Dutch Janson. He went on to be a professor at Carnegie Institute for Art and Design (what is now Carnegie Mellon) and the Art Institute of San Francisco. He was also the typographic director for the Stanford University Press. He later founded the Greenwood press in San Mateo, California in 1936. In 1955 he received the Fullbright grant, which allowed him to study in Florence for three years. There he met and studied master printers, Giovanni Mardersteig, and Alberto Tallone, who were major influences on Stauffacher’s work. He then reopened Greenwood Press in San Francisco and resumed printing limited edition copies of rare books. A great quote about Stauffacher comes from Chuck Byne in 1998: “Jack Stauffacher describes himself as a printer. It is a somewhat deceptive term for us today. His use of the term connects him to a five-hundred-year tradition of the entrepreneur-publisher-designer-typographer-printer. Like the best who made up that custom, he possesses a love of type and printing and the ability to convey meaningful words and thought.”

In this project, I’d want to see what style of work came out of the Greenwood press and how it differed or was similar to Stauffacher’s personal work. I also want to know how he trained people to see the way he views type. I also want to chronologically compare his work to see how he incorporated his influences and what periods he may have encountered. I really love his use of negative space and the playfulness in his work. I love it all! He also is known for his minimalistic approach to typography, which I also identify with. Minimalism is a style and a way to design using the phrase “less is more.” I really like how Stauffacher created beautiful pieces with very few letters and even small amounts of text that still conveyed a powerful meaning. I would really like to see how to use his methods of printing to create compositions like he does. In relationship to Stauffacher’s work, I would want to do a series of posters or a small book, working with typography on the printing press. I want to play with the type and see new ways of combining letters and fonts. I would love to really learn how to set type and the proper ways of printing with movable type. I’d really want this project to be more about exploration than knowing the exact finished product. I don’t get to play very often and I think this would be a great opportunity to learn about type and creativity, while developing my own style with the press and defining the project more with that perspective. With that said, I think I would want to do a series of “playful type” and a series of “premeditated type.” The playful type would show my chronological exploration with fonts, colors, hierarchy, placement, ect. In contrast the premeditated type would show how I imitate Stauffacher’s work based on my research and experiments with the press. He sticks to two fonts at most in one composition. He plays with the hierarchy which can challenge or aid readability. Stauffacher uses color selectively, as a way to draw attention and highlight an area. As far as the physical printing process, I would I would like to print on 11 by 17 FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper. I would also ideally want to use soy based or vegetable based inks, but I’m not sure if those would be available or affordable. But this whole idea kind of hinges on the fact that I would need to use the press. If I wasn’t able to use the press we have at MC, I might be able to use the one at UT. I just think if I try to replicate the process digitally with Illustrator, I’ll be losing a piece of Stauffacher’s process.

Here are a few sources I’ve been perusing through finding bits and pieces. But my research is going to be more about his style through prints and images. I have yet to find a good library of image sources.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by gotgestalt on 6 October, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    You will really want to focus on elements of compositional form and negative space when you are recreating works — he was a master at effectively using space, which is challenging to do in a minimalist environment, but critical to effective visual communication.

    We can use the smaller Excelsior press for this project and the current case of type we have (which needs to be organized—a good project to learn about the type as well), we just need to get some inks. This will be a better press for your to learn on as it’s easier to handle, manage and then you can work up to learning how to use the Chandler and Price in the future. This will be a useful resource for you:

    You will want to make decisions about color and how that will either mimic his work or deviate from it and why.



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