The peerless typographic skills of Hermann Zapf

John McWade
Senior Staff AuthoR, at LinkedIn

Hermann Zapf, a giant in the world of type design, died on June 10, at 96. He is best known for his typeface Palatino. Zapf also designed the famous typeface Optima, which in the 1950s was revolutionary for being a sans-serif with roman type characteristics, and which you can see (one among countless places) on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. Other Zapf designs include Melior, Aldus Nova, Zapfino, and even Zapf Dingbats.

Below is a grainy 19-minute interview filmed by the Hallmark company in what appear to be the early 1960s, giving a glimpse of his astounding lettering skills.


At the top of this post, a still from the film shows the typeface Melior as he’s lettering it freehand! Who else can write in typography?! Below is the widely available digital version, which in the translation to digital has lost the original’s gracefully cupped serifs (easiest to see at the top of the letter l), making it plainer and less beautiful.

Editor: Katarzyna Gruda


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