Erik Spiekermann is a living legend when it comes to typography—in Gary Hustwit's Helvetica, he memorably acknowledged that typefaces were "his friends"—who is among the last generation of graphic designers who got their started out in the pre-CS days with the time-honored tradition of typesetting by hand. On the occasion of the forthcoming publication of a new book, Hello, I Am Erik, Gestalten is pleased to present Spiekermann's ode to the letterpress in a new short film.
There are two differences between what we do here and what we've done on screen; I'll start with the physical. Everything you touch and put in the machine, afterwards you have to clean it up and put it back again, put it on the shelf or the rack... You have to touch everything—you have to think about it, you have to plan a little more, and whatever you do is fairly permanent.
...your material influences you... that's the philosophical divergence. You can't just have any idea—you basically have a rough idea and then you start working, and then the material shapes your idea.
...I look at my drawer and I know what I have... whereas on my computer, I have Photoshop; I can do images that didn't exist before...
Billed as the "first-ever visual biography" on Spiekermann, Hello, I Am Erik will be available in August and promises to be a definitive account of his life and times. Towards the end of the video, he also mentions that a good design book captures not the designer's output, which he can see elsewhere, but rather the biography and context of his or her life. While Hello, I Am Erik will certainly include plenty of background information on Spiekermann, he also happens to be the subject of a recent profile on Rapha's Survey blog, in which he geeks out over his other passion, cycling.
Berliners are also invited to participate in a two-day letterpress workshop, from July 26–29 at the newly opened P98A gallery/workshop space. As Spiekermann notes, "We have all of the equipment because they don't break, ever... but we don't have the people any more."
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