The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Gray318 TYPO Talk Berlin


everything is illuminated gray318

“I’m not a designer, not an illustrator, and certainly not a type designer – I’m a misfit…Publishing – that’s where people who don’t quite fit in end up.”

The TYPO Talks blog recaps Jon Gray‘s recent talk at TYPO Berlin:

Gray looked around for inspiration and got interested in old hand written signs often posted at churches. Written by sign writing dilettantes who need to communicate something to their fellow churchgoers, to Gray these signs tell a story, they speak of dedication, personality, of love. The signs reference a specific time and place, an idiosyncratic personality and character. Gray took the loose and spontaneous quality of the handwriting on these signs and used it for the cover of “Everything is Illuminated”.

What he got gave him one of these rare moments where “You make something and you know it works, it’s something new – I made it and it was completely me. I liked it, Penguin loved it, the author was all over it.” Published in 2002, the rough all-over hand-lettering on the cover contrasted strongly with the clean lines and vector graphics that had been dominating graphic design for a while then. It was the avant-garde of what Steven Heller called “The Decade of Dirty” when handmade aesthetics became fashionable again. And it marked the very beginning of the still ongoing revival of hand-lettered typography.

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