Paul Shaw: W. A. Dwiggins in his time

Paul ShawOn May 13, 2017 calligrapher, type designer and design historian Paul Shaw gave a fascinating talk on the American graphic artist W. A. Dwiggins. Active in the first half of the 20th century, Dwiggins was a master calligrapher, book designer, type designer, marionettist, writer, and creative spirit, in an unceasing flow of artistic production.

Paul spoke without notes, drawing on his vast knowledge of Dwiggins’s work and life. Illustrating his talk with side-by-side samples of Dwiggins’s work and that of his contemporaries, he illuminated the ways in which Dwiggins was both in sync with his times and how his originality could not be limited by conventional styles. The variety and quality of hand-lettering that Shaw treated us to left one simply in awe. Dwiggins’s artwork, an integral part of the whole, was as varied and masterful as his lettering, and unmistakably his own. The cross currents of modernism and classicism in Dwiggins’s work, the whimsey and exuberance of his ornamentation, were beautifully highlighted in the presentation.

Paul Shaw

Shaw also spoke of other notable designers and printers whose paths or influences intersected with WAD’s such as Frederic Goudy, Oz Cooper, T. M. Cleland, Will Bradley, D. B. Updike, Bruce Rogers, Jan Tschichold, Paul Renner, Eric Gill, Hermann Zapf — the pantheon of 20th-century artists and craftsmen who established and exemplified graphic design as a profession.

Paul’s research and writing on Dwiggins is ongoing but you can enjoy his recent book, Revival Type, right now. Catch him live if you can.

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