Based in San Francisco, Letterform Archive is a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, and community. As a special collections library, museum, publisher, and school, our mission to share the joy of letters with design-curious people. Founded in 2015 by Rob Saunders, the Archive began with his private collection of 15,000 objects with the public. The collection has since grown to over 100,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design, spanning thousands of years of history.
Type specimens from around the world are a core aspect of the Archive’s collection. In this talk, Associate Curator Stephen Coles will uncover some wood type gems that have rarely been seen before, including catalogs from European and Indian manufacturers. Feast your eyes on dazzling chromatics, film-to-wood conversions, and other curiosities.
Then, Saunders will share the work of Jack Stauffacher, whose striking typographic experiments transformed letters from legibility workhorses into expressive studies of surface, color, and form. A special traveling edition of the Archive’s upcoming exhibition, Typographic Jazz, will also be on display in the Hamilton gallery, and copies of Only on Saturday, the first comprehensive book of Stauffacher’s wood type prints, will be available.
Stephen “Stewf” Coles, Associate Curator & Editorial Director (he/him), joined the staff after serving on our Board of Directors since its inception. Since the early 2000s he has been active in the type community, initially as a creative director at FontShop, and later as an independent consultant, connecting font makers with font users. Stephen wrote the book The Anatomy of Type and co-founded the influential websites Typographica and Fonts In Use. With his background in design and journalism, combined with an obsession for type history, Stephen is responsible for the online face and voice of the Archive, and shares the collection through the blog and other editorial projects. As a member of the curatorial team, he helps to shape the future of the collection.
Established in 2015, Letterform Archive is a San Francisco nonprofit center for inspiration, education, and community. This special collections library and museum preserves over 100,000 artifacts of calligraphy, lettering, typography, and graphic design, and offers radical access to the collection through exhibitions, publications, hands-on tours, and their Online Archive. The Archive also offers a yearlong certificate program in type design, accompanied by public workshops, lectures, and salons on the letter arts, both in-person and online.