Posts Tagged ‘graphic design’

Engraving Workshop

February 26, 2011

I am giving an engraving workshop at Loyola University New Orleans. This is a breezy overview of what is contemporary, commercial “engraving”:

Friday, March 18 @ 6:00pm
Loyola University New Orleans
Media Room 1.
Monroe Library

(This same workshop was recently given at:

Tuesday, March 1 @ 5:00pm
Southeastern Louisiana University
Mac Lab
East Stadium)

Each workshop includes:

•    what is engraving and why do we love it.
•    historic specimens of weird and fantastic engraving.
•    contemporary applications for engraving.
•    how to prepare art for engraving, and the various kinds of “engraving”.
•    how to engrave…
•    …or, how to work with an engraver (so you just have to design and leave the engraving to somebody else.)
•    engraving resources (so, I have this engraving-appropriate art. now, how and to whom do I send it to get it “engraved”?).

Students of host university, ATypI, SOTA and AIGA members free; moderate fees may apply for non-members and students of other institutions.


Is Engraving Important to Design Education?

October 10, 2010

Saturday, October 16 at 2:00 pm
Session IV, Panel 3

The American Printing History Association 35th Annual Conference
Corcoran College of Art + Design
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 Seventeenth St. NW
Washington, DC

(This presentation was first given in Dublin at the 2010 ATypeI Conference.)

Although rarely studied in today’s classroom, commercial engraving for print is a vital element in the teaching of graphic design and media studies at the college and university level. This notion, which will be explored in the proposed presentation, is based on more than a decade of independent study of steel die and copper plate engraving, the recent installation of a working engraving proofing press within the Loyola University of New Orleans graphic design department and the establishment of a new and growing engraving community in New Orleans. This is the first new and only robust commercial print engraving community in North America.

The legacy through which we have studied, and viewed, graphic design, typography and the book arts primarily has been through the lens of the letterpress form. For over 500 years, almost all of our print communication was fashioned within this framework and according to a specific, or implied grid (grid being the series of units aligning both vertically and horizontally in an intentional, recognizable pattern). In the western world, almost every description of commercial visual communication is presented in this format; books, newspapers, periodicals, even the orientation and navigation of websites depend on a grid for their structure.

Engraving, on the other hand, is a fluid, free-hand expression restricted only by the perimeter of the surface upon which an engraving is worked. The exquisite beauty and gracefulness of arcs and shading inherent in the engraved line is unparalleled and had become, until very recently, an unfortunately moribund craft.

This twenty minute presentation addresses ways in which the organic nature of steel die and copper plate engraved imagery and text complement and enhance visual experience, why and how engraving is a central part of any modern graphic design curriculum, and dynamic ways that it can be introduced in the classroom. By providing examples of elegant and unique engraved imagery, we can inspire the next generation of visual thinkers to keep this important art form alive.

© 2010 Nancy Sharon Collins

Calligraphic Engraving

September 26, 2009

This past week I spent researching calligraphic engraving at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at University of Texas at Austin. HRC archives hold many copybook (or copy book) specimens, three “The Universal Penman” by George Bickham, great master of this highly specialized craft in 18th-century England, one beautiful copy is in the fabulous bound Beaufoy, H.B.H., collection of English, German and Dutch writing manuals.

I examined over 1,460 individual engraved plates either bound or tipped-in to these books or the Beaufoy collection.  There are exquisite examples of engraved calligraphy but of greater interest to me was being able to look at the structure of engraved letter forms.  I was able to bring with me, and use, the 3X photographic loop, with excellent optics, so was able to see some great detail.

I will be writing my observations here in my blog.  Meanwhile, anyone interested in the genre can go to this bibliography about origins of letter forms including writing and copy books:

Also, a reasonable copy, offset not engraved, of Bickham’s “Universal Penman” can be bought as a Dover edition for fairly cheap.

My favorite specimen was a complete book by Snell, about 4-5 characters per page, 13 plates in all illustrating the entire alphabet.  At the end of which (and I could not tell if it is part of the Snell book or a random, tipped-in item) was a grid comparing each character in the alphabet for Roman, Italick [sic], two kinds of script, “secretary”, “church”, engrossing and several other forms of types.

I will post pictures in the coming weeks, it takes four to six (weeks) for the HRC to process orders for scanning copies.

So Noted: In Search of Monograms

August 28, 2009

Nancy Sharon Collins, A/K/A the engraving lady, is seeking submissions of engraved social stationery, read about it in the Mohawk paper website.


read more about it.

History of Romantic Letters at TypeCon 2009

June 26, 2009

The History of Romantic Letters at TypeCon 2009

2:00 pm-5:30 pm

Presented by Nancy Sharon Collins (Collins LLC/Loyola University/AIGA New Orleans)

Location: Portfolio Center, Atlanta
Cost: $50 + $10 materials fee
Ever wonder about engraving? What is it? Where does it come from? Why does it look that way? What’s a monogram? How does engraving factor into the history and function of type?

The only way to truly appreciate engraving is to try it yourself—come experience the “cut” by which engraved letterforms are made—everyone in this workshop will be encouraged to try their hand with a “graver” (or “burin”), the real tools of this elegant, virtually forgotten trade.

Specimens of vintage monograms, lettering styles and engraving will be displayed. Using simple tools such as graphite pencil and various sorts of erasers, attendees will trace, combine, retrace existing forms and learn to make new symbols, letters and forms with these historic pieces of inspiration.

SHAME ON YOU. Are there really No Sustainable Printers in New Orleans?

March 7, 2009

In a town now being cited for many new green initiatives I must wag my finger at my adopted home, I just did an online look to see who of our local printers advertises sustainable practices and I found none.

Not one of these local printers advertises sustainable practices on the home page of their website:

Garrity Printing Inc.,
H & H Printing Service,
Pel Hughes,
Harvey-Hauser Printing Company,
Davis & Sapi Printing,
Wendel Printing,
Mele Printing,

In North America, New Orleans boasts the first press established outside of the original colonies back when this country was being formed. While waiting for his press and types to arrive from France, Denis Braud engraved plates himself. A resident since at least 1762, Braud printed letters of exchange for the treasury.* Also, the debate has never been conclusively resolved about just where the first type foundry “to operate in a Southern state”, Virginia or New Orleans.**

Can this legacy of great type and print innovation be made right?

Come on boys and girls of the letter and word, get on the stick. Otherwise, conscientious typographers and designers such as myself will have to source printing from sustainable printers in Alabama!

* Florence M. Jumonville, Bibliography of New Orleans Imprints 1764-1864
** Maurice Annenberg, Type Foundries of America and their Catalogs

Meet the Original Mad Men of New Orleans

January 25, 2009

The original graphic arts rat pack that became AIGA New Orleansgd_sl4

Guess Who are the Real “Mad Men”

January 24, 2009

We all know what south Louisiana sounds and tastes like through jazz, Mardi Gras and great food! But what does it look like in terms of visual culture?

Join us to honor the fathers and daughters of pop culture in south Louisiana. If you’ve watched the popular TV show, “Mad Men” we’ve found the real thing:

The golden age of local commercial art in south Louisiana is being honored:

AIGA New Orleans Birthday Bash & Member’s Party

Saturday, January 31, 2009 7pm – 11pm Musee Conti Wax Museum
917 Conti St.
(504) 525-2605
New Orleans, LA

Everyone on this blog must read this book

January 19, 2009

Everyone in the “allied arts” as they used to be called must read the book, THE CULTIVATION OF ARTISTS IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA edited by Georgia B Barnhill.  It explains how trade schools trained anyone who could draw with skills to job the burgeoning industries that hallmarked the era about which it is written.

Artists where taught to cut images onto copper plates and lithography stones to illustrate the newspapers, periodicals and publishing house flourishing in that time.  Think about it, who drew all those lovely cross-hatched scenes, portraits and products before photography was used in print?  Commercial artists.  And how did they get trained?  Through the apprentice system, until it was compromised by bigger and bigger industry.

So, you think you’re so special?  Read this book.

AIGA New Orleans People’s History of Graphic Design, the rough cut

November 7, 2008

View the rough cut created from 13 interviews of graphic artists, type setters and designers in the deep south for the 2008 Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC). These craft and trades folk range in age from 21 to 96 and live in south Louisiana in an area flanked by Pineville to the north, Thibodaux to the south west and Covington to the east including Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

This is a work-in-progress trailer for a feature-length version of revisionist history of type and graphic design focusing on the American south.

See the history here.