New Typographic Group to Be Under Way in 1961

  • American branch of the international A. Type I. has been formed
  • Sponsors of A. Type I.—U.S.A. plan to have it set up by January 1
  • It will foster communication and education in typographic arts

In October, 1958, we commented upon the formation of the European graphic arts group known as A. Type I.—Association Typographique Internationale. The original purpose of this organization was to set up standards for copyrighting typefaces in international use.

Later A. Type I. began a discussion to simplify the classification and terminology of types and, in general use, to enlarge upon the original scope of the association. A recent report indicates that sufficient international interest has been awakened to merit broad expansion of the pioneer plan.

At the annual meeting held in Paris in April, the association listened to Aaron Burns of New York City, propose the establishment of an American branch to be known as A. Type I.—U.S.A. The group empowered its president, Charles Peignot, to aid Mr. Burns in carrying out his proposal.

Consequently, it is with considerable interest that typographers, printers, and graphic designers have greeted the first progress report, issued in July of this year by the American group of the association.

Mr. Burns, who is type director of the Composing Room in New York City, has most ambitious plans to form an organization that will enrich American typographic resources. His idea is to establish not only a national branch of the international association, but also found in the United States an international center for the typographic arts.

The two organizations would be mutually dependent. Since A. Type I. supplied the original concept and has already covered much of the groundwork in promoting the discussion of typography on an international basis, it is quite natural to use this experience in supplying the leadership for a new venture.

The progress report states the broad principles which lie behind the need for an international group in this field. “Here will be the first working body to discuss, to hear, to see, to initiate, to originate, to invent, to adapt, to revise, to learn, to educate, to propagate the facts, the feelings, the findings, and the philosophies of the typographic arts.”

Another paragraph further states: “Shortly, we know, there will exist other national groups to add weight to the number and increase the importance and the justification for recognizing our kinship with the other men and women throughout the world who create, design, articulate, write, set type, print, make paper, manufacture machinery, research, develop, educate, and exhibit the methods of graphic and visual communication.”

Altogether this is an all-encompassing objective. Certainly, the graphic arts for too long has lacked an international group which could unify opinion on all phases, and coördinate educational facilities and techniques throughout the world. The approach of the new organization is to leaders in the industry.

An important few sentences in the organizational statement emphasize this: “perhaps most important of all purposes is acceptance of the need in every country and area of the world to find and to foster through education the younger craftsman who will succeed to the application of the arts of graphic and visual communication. If there is no fuel, how will the flame remain alive? Responsibility for educating in the areas of the typographic arts falls directly upon the leading men and women in those areas.”

It is hoped that A. Type I.—U.S.A. will be fully organized by January 1, 1961. Present plans call for the establishment of a national board of directors, regional directors, and a number of units or chapters throughout the country.

Support for carrying out the work of the organization will come from annual dues of members, contributory and sustaining memberships, corporate entities, and from philanthropic institutions.

Aaron Burns, Will Burtin, R. Hunter Middleton, Paul Rand

Among the typographers and designers supporting A. Type I.—U.S.A., a new graphic arts organization, are Aaron Burns, who proposed its formation, Will Burtin, R. Hunter Middleton, and Paul Rand.

Probably the most unique feature of the suggestions made by Mr. Burns is the establishment of an international center for typographic arts, which would be sponsored by A. Type I. It is planned that the center would be located in New York City, and that membership in the parent body would be a prerequisite for participation in its affairs. As outlined in the progress report, the purposes of the center are as follows:

  1. To assemble, evaluate, and document all graphic indication material in the field of the visual and typographic arts that can be used for educational and informational purposes, and to disseminate this material through the international center for the typographic arts to any interested schools, colleges, organizations, societies, and professional groups throughout the world that are concerned with visual and graphic communications.
  2. To inspire, encourage, and facilitate on an international basis and exchange of ideas, philosophies, materials, specimens, and criticisms in all matters dealing with every form and medium of the typographic arts.
  3. To encourage the development of experimental projects in any allied field having to bear upon the art of typography and graphic communication.
  4. To provide materials for educational purposes through the preparation of slides, specimens, exhibits, films, booklets, manuals, and other reference matter, including setting up a speakers’ bureau.
  5. To bring together through correspondence and conferences people with similar interests in the areas of the typographic arts.
  6. To provide the means for scholarship in the fields of interest in visual and graphic communications.
  7. To work with all interested people in effecting a greater knowledge and understanding of the aesthetics and mechanics of all typographic and graphic processes and materials.
  8. To improve the standards of craftsmanship and to serve as a forum for discussion of criteria, common philosophies, aesthetics, applications, production developments, and inventions having to bear upon the typographic arts.
  9. To coöperate with all associations, societies, organizations, and individuals interested in visual and graphic communications, throughout the world and to work jointly for the common welfare of all.

It is of course much too early to determine the outcome of the suggestions made in the statement above however the young movement has already received the support of a number of well-known graphic arts figures in the country including the designers Will Burtin and Paul Rand, and the type designer R. Hunter Middleton, among others.

This article first appeared in “The Composing Room” of the October 1960 issue of Printer and Lithographer.

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