Autumn 2021

Type as art objet

Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters

Edited by Mark Gowing and Dave Foster. Designed by Mark Gowing. Formist Editions, $90
Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters

‘At design school I became enamoured with typography,’ said Kris Sowersby to Mark Thomson in the Eye 79 ‘Reputations’ interview with the largely self-taught type designer. ‘I loved the simplicity of its raw state – arrangements of black and white space on the page.’

And that is what the crowdfunded Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters delivers. Individual glyphs from Sowersby’s vast catalogue are presented at gargantuan point sizes, one per page. Editors Mark Gowing and Dave Foster have chosen and sequenced the characters as if they were sculptural objects for our aesthetic consideration – the most modest ‘T’ takes on monumental form when readers leaf through this beautifully produced, 800-page brick of a book.

New Zealand-born Sowersby is the prolific 21st century type designer par excellence, whose faces such as National, Karbon and Tiempos won a warm response from designers and clients worldwide for their technical brilliance, character and style.

Gowing writes of seeing ‘everyday things’, like letters, anew. The book takes us back to Sowersby’s first love: pure shapes on a page.

Spreads from Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters, designed by Mark Gowing.

Spreads from Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters
Spreads from Kris Sowersby: The Art of Letters

John L. Walters, editor of Eye, London

First published in Eye no. 102 vol. 26, 2021

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.