London Underground Typeface

Monday 2nd July 1979, straight after five years of student life in the UK, was my first day at Banks and Miles, a London based graphic design company. That morning was a bit of a shock. I was given a few large broadsheets with litho printed Johnston type. I was definitely confounded by being asked straightaway to design a new Johnston family with three weights — Light, Medium and Bold — within a month or two. (…) Colin Banks, an external assessor for the LCP, had asked me if I would be interested in redesigning a typeface. I was grateful for the job (…), but the prospect was daunting because I had no experience in type design and very little English language. (…) I expected that in the office there would be at least a kind of preliminary training or guidance for a novice designer — what drawing tools to be used, what size the original artwork should be, how to typeset with newly drawn letters. I remembered one college day in 1975 when our tutor took us to the drawing office of the Monotype Corporation in Salfords. They had impressive purpose-built drawing equipment, precision machines and many skilled draughtsmen and women. In contrast, my tools were very basic: pencils, felt tip pens, a Rotring pen with 0.1 mm nib, Winsor & Newton’s fine brushes and some photographic equipment in the darkroom.

type
Interesting article about Eiichi Kono’s1979 redesign of the „Johnston“ typeface that London Transport has been using in the Underground since 1913.

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