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03
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One Comment

When Past Meets Present the Future is Brighter

Written by in Color & Texture, Design, Inspire

Dream the Impossible Dream:
Craig Welsh Restores a Masterpiece

A Nearly Forgotten Font, Euclid, Is Resurrected Through a
Nearly Lost Art Form: Wood Type.

Though Alvin Lustig left this earth more than 60 years ago, his modern design influence has left an indelible mark in design history. It’s hard to believe that he died so young, at age 40—when most of us are hitting our career stride—considering his output and influence in mid-century modern design. Thankfully, his widow, Elaine Lustig Cohen, carried on his legacy and has ensured his works would never be forgotten.

In 2010, the book Born Modern, written by Steven Heller and Lustig-Cohen, was published. It encompasses Lustig’s design accomplishments and details his theories on design. It also talked about his influences in typography, which sparked an idea for designer Craig Welsh of Go Welsh, based in Lancaster, Pa. He wanted to revive a font originally designed by Lustig in 1930, called Euclid, and turn it into a woodtype font family. Welsh, who holds degrees in architecture and graphic design, is an avid student of design history, typography, and poster design. His work has been published on both sides of the Atlantic and he has won recognition at every major design show and publication.

“At the time I had just purchased my first batch of letterpress equipment. I was fascinated by the wood type and its physicality,” Welsh says. “Euclid just felt like it should be cut as wood type.” So, he asked Heller to introduce him to Lustig Cohen. Heller made the intro, Welsh presented his idea to Lustig-Cohen, and she agreed to take part in the project.

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The process of working with Lustig-Cohen was very collaborative and nurturing. “The basic rhythm to the work was that the designers at my studio and I would work on the type and then visit with Elaine to get her feedback,” Welsh notes. “I would always take blank grids from which the letterforms were being developed. As we reviewed things, Elaine would then help to sketch her ideas of how she felt the letterforms would best be refined. There would often be a lot of discussion followed by more refinement at my studio after the visits.”

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“As we reviewed things, Elaine would then help to sketch her ideas of how she felt the letterforms would best be refined. There would often be a lot of discussion followed by more refinement at my studio after the visits.”- Craig Welsh

This back and forth process proved integral to getting the design as Alvin Lustig had intended, because Welsh learned, only 12 letters were known to exist from what was developed in the 1930s. “Because the scale relationship of the four shapes used to construct the letterforms are not exact matches to what Alvin had done, there was a need to first establish the basic underlying grid for the letters. Once the grid was established there was a set of simple rules to follow,” Welsh explains. “However, an interesting aspect of the design considerations was that even though the work was primarily being done on a computer, every decision needed to be measured against how it would work if the design was being made with physical pieces of metal.”

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Designing a font that would then be converted to wood type, is more complicated than it sounds—and expensive, so in order to accomplish this goal, Welsh started a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs. A core goal of the project is to have the historic Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum cut new wood type using the traditional pantograph routing method that had been used in the early days of manufacturing wood type. This intricate process involves using metal router bits to cut the type into a wood block. However, the router bit is circular so interior counters need to be hand trimmed using small, chisel-like tools. This handwork takes time and resources.

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Then back to the future, P22 Type Foundry will digitize the Euclid revival font, henceforth to be named Lustig Elements, into OpenType format.

“Reviving this font that Alvin designed in 1930, happened because Elaine agreed to be part of the project. Her involvement has made this so special and it was fascinating to have had this opportunity to work with her,” Welsh says. “We can fully trust that she gets it because she lived it.”

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Hooray!

We applaud this effort and encourage readers to support Craig Welsh and his collaboration with the Hamilton Museum.

Support the Welsh-Lustig campaign.
Support the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

  1. 03
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    7:18pm

    Craig Welsh’s concept that this font should be cut as wood type was absolutely correct. Every legacy of the brilliant Alvin Lustig is worth recovering. I am a supporter now. Thank you, Craig & Elaine Lustig Cohen. Superb storytelling by Emily Potts!