“What is a type director?” ask younger members of the TDC. It is a title that has largely disappeared, the name for the member of a creative team who chose or made type and lettering for publishing and advertising. It suggests typographic expertise and sensitivity, the ability to choose the right letter for the job.
The work of a one-time holder of the type director title, Ernst Reichl (1900–1980), is on view in the gallery of the Rare Book and Manuscripts Library at Columbia University, in an exhibition called Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer. Reichl was officially a type director while at the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding in the middle of the 1940s; this exhibition showcases his work in book design, the typography of publishing that occupied most of his career.
Article: The Design Observer Group
Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer
Martha Scotford, design historian discusses the work of German-American book designer Ernst Reichl:
Midway in his career, Reichl began to reflect on many of the books he designed in written comments; he spent more time on this during the period 1977-1978, shortly before his death in 1980. In the end, there were approximately 550 3 x 5 inch index cards on which he hand-wrote his thoughts about selected books he designed. In lively prose Reichl comments on myriad elements of book design and details of book production, several for each book. He covers typography, binding design and jackets, illustration, publishers, the publishing industry in New York, design colleagues (revered and annoying), production triumphs and problems, how well the book sold, his opinion of the book and his philosophy of book design as applied to that title. He also critiques his own work, sometimes in the moment, sometimes from the perspective of more time and experience. These comments, often sharp and humorous, are highly entertaining and informative. I know of no other book designer who has done this so extensively.
Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer is on view at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University until September 13 (see it soon!).
TDC members are invited to a special event presented by the Friends of the Columbia Libraries, a talk by Martha Scotford, with Ruth Reichl (Ernst Reichl’s daughter and well-known food critic and author).
Wednesday, September 11, 6:00 p.m.
Butler Library, Room 523
Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University
535 West 114th Street, New York
(reception follows in the Kempner Gallery, Butler, 6th floor)
Please rsvp: firstname.lastname@example.org
Curator Martha Scotford will also be in the gallery for conversation and questions on Monday, September 9, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
6th Floor East Butler Library
535 West 114th St.