San serif Britain: the role of Johnston and Gill- Mark Ovenden
8 December 2016, 7pm
San serif Britain: The role of Johnston and Gill - Mark Ovenden
A century ago, British streets were awash with a myriad of handbills and signage, all screaming for attention; much of it in garish, shouty, indelicate capitals. Railways and especially the expanding London Underground were some of the most difficult places to navigate at this time. Forward thinking publicity manager, Frank Pick, commissioned calligraphy teacher Edward Johnston to design a “block letter” for the Underground in an attempt to remedy this.
The resulting typeface was so simple that not only did it transform the look of the capital, a student of Johnston’s, Eric Gill, was commissioned a decade later to design a sans serif for Monotype. Gill’s sans became so ubiquitous that along with Johnston’s London lettering, the two styles dominated the British landscape, inspiring Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s sans serif alphabets and typographers worldwide to this day.
Both faces are still widely used and have been revised many times – most recently Monotype’s Gill Sans Nova series in 2015 and Johnston100, designed to commemorate Johnston’s centenary this year. Join us to celebrate these very British types.
London-born Mark Ovenden is a transport design historian who has written several books on transit cartography, design and typography. He has also worked in music and broadcast media and has lived in Manchester, Paris and New York. His latest book, Johnston and Gill: Very British Types is being published by Lund Humphries in November, coinciding with the centenary of Johnston and the 90th anniversary of Gill Sans.
Gill’s first set of capitals for Monotype, 1927 © St Bride Foundation
Tickets Standard £12.50 Concession or FOSB £10.00 Student £8.00