Typeface: the Movie

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a new offering in the realm of typographic research. Coming soon, the movie Typeface, created by Kartemquin Films and directed by Justine Nagan, promises to be the most ambitious film on typography since Helvetica.

This documentary focuses on the Hamilton printing factory, now a museum full of 1.5 million old wooden letterforms, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. This factory is rcognized as a museum today, but it's far from quiet and sterile. It also is a place where artists, designers, and type enthusiasts alike get to share their passion and combine what can be debatably considered to be the ideal blending of past with present, old with modern technology. In one photo from the official website, a wooden letter is being inspected which had been created from a computer template, and laser cut. It’s the combination of technology such as this that is helping to infuse new life into the realm of traditional typography.

A gentleman at the Hamilton museum inspects a wood letterform etched by a laser.

We can thank a man by the name of Jim VanLanen for the preservation of this once commercial facility, as he developed small museums as a way to bring tourists and industry to the area. The town of Twin Rivers is struggling with the current economic situation, but here (possibly) lies the future for type enthusiasts interested in the roots of the graphic design industry. Designers are discovering this little treasure trove buried in rural, unassuming Americana, and below is what I pulled from the official website discussing the phenomenon:

“One weekend each month, the quiet of Two Rivers is interrupted as carloads of artisans drive in from across the Midwest. The place comes alive as printmaking workshops led by, and filled with, some of the region’s top creative talent descend on the sleepy enclave. The museum is significant to the town’s history, but more importantly, its existence is critical to the worldwide design community who are passionate about the history of their craft and its function in the contemporary field. They believe the future of their industry may lie in the past.” - http://typeface.kartemquin.com/about

The museum that was once the Hamilton printing factory (and later manufacturer of clothes washers and dryers) has now become vitally important to the preservation of traditional typographic methods as well as fresh, modern, and artistic reinterpretations of this medium. Typeface should be a documentary well worth the viewing. Please visit the site for more information.

Below is a few images from the website:

Outside of the Hamilton printing factory.

Trays of wooden type, of varying fonts and sizes.

Yes, you read that correctly: the once producer of fabulous wooden type switched to making appliances.