24 September 2010

Matthew Carter, et moi?

Tonight, I'll be at the Cambridge Public Library, as AIGA Boston honors Matthew Carter with its Fellow Award. Sometime back in June, thirteen Boston-based designers (including yours truly) were each invited by AIGA Boston to design a different letter from Mr. Carter's name, in poster form, to honor his new status as AIGA Fellow. I was honored to be included in this group, and to have the chance to celebrate a design icon whose work I have long admired. If you've ever had a chance to hear Carter speak, you know he's a real designer's designer—thoughtful, witty and humble—which are certainly qualities to be admired, and inspired by.

I was randomly assigned "T" (high probability of that—there being three of those in MATTHEW CARTER!), and ended up with a design that references Carter's noted range of experience in designing letterforms for every (with the exception of wood type, I guess) method of typesetting. I also wanted to merge the traditional/classical and cutting-edge/digital qualities of his range of typefaces somehow, and talk about his knack for reconciling those two worlds—every typeface he creates is made first and foremost to serve both the end user and a specific technical application, while still preserving some essential traits that make each letter—unmistakably—what it is. As a framework, I imposed forms from Carter's Bell Centennial on a classical, humanist construction of the letter T (or was it the other way around?). An abstraction of a piece of hot metal type, in profile—among other things—grew out of that . . . Anyway, here it is:


Here's a few more from the series, by (clockwise from top left) Stoltze Design and Randal Thurston, Fritz Klaetke, Adam Larson, and Nancy Skolos and Tom Wedell:


In the course of working on the poster, I also had occasion to exchange a couple of e-mails with Chris Pullman, who was directing this poster-palooza—a 2-for-1 brush with greatness!

The posters (17" x 22") were printed in editions of five on an archival-quality inkjet by Singer Editions, and will be on the block at tonight's ceremony in a silent auction to benefit AIGA Boston. If you're attending, you'll also get to hear presentations by David Berlow, Cyrus Highsmith, and Tobias Frere-Jones. More info about the event, and thumbnails of all of the posters in the series (good company, in my opinion) are here.


  1. This is great Alex. I never knew about this. Congratulations on being asked to design one of the letters.

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