UnderCover: Typeface: documentary as infomercial

Monday, November 23, 2009

Typeface: documentary as infomercial

I caught Justine Nagan’s documentary Typeface at the Alamo Ritz last night. As a documentary, I found it wanting as it lacked both compelling characters and strong story arc. For instance, the film seemed to want to say that the Hamilton Wood Type Museum was doomed to close and that an important slice of American history would be lost along with it. But then, the credits tell the opposite story, highlighting a new more energized curator, an increase in interest and support from the design community, and a successful 10th anniversary celebration.

But despite its deficiencies as a documentary, Typeface succeeds in spades as an infomercial for the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. Located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, a small town 3 hours outside of Chicago; the museum is bound to benefit from the film as designers and type aficionados will surely flock to see first hand and touch for themselves all the gorgeous wood type featured on the screen. But if you can't swing a visit another way to support the museum is to purchase one of their gorgeous prints.

To its credit, the film also draws interesting parallels between the current resurgence of hand-made design and do-it-yourself crafts (exemplified by events such as Renegade Craft Fair, Maker Fair, and Etsy.com) as a response to our ultra-digitized world; and the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements, which according to the film, were a similar reaction by artisans to the over-mechanized production methods of the industrial revolution.

As a creative who would love to get her hands on some gorgeous wood typography, I became the 311th fan of the museum’s Facebook page.

I was excited to see on the Hamilton website that Jim Sherraden of Hatch Showprint, Nashville, TN will be hosting a letterpress workshop at Hamilton from December 11th–13th, 2009. Shortsightedly limited to 16 attendees, this event unfortunately became waiting list only as of 11/02/09. Damn! I will keep a lookout for similar events in the future.

Or perhaps I'll just take a trip to NYC for the Yee-Haw Industries industrial letterpress exhibition 10/4/09–01/02/10 in the Chelsea Market...

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