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Bitmapped Maple  04.20.2011

It is more than 20 years ago since Zuzana Licko, in reply to a skeptical question about the viability of her bitmapped typefaces in print applications, said: "why did letter press type start to look a certain way, and why was that eventually accepted? Not because people were reading the type off the bed of the letterpress. They were still reading it off the printed page. That didn't have anything more to do with casting lead than it does with computer chips today, but that's where it comes from, and that's what we've gotten used to."

Not to further complicate the issue, but if you're so inclined you can now read Licko's trademark bitmapped screen type off the bed of a letterpress as well.

These wonderful wood letters of Oakland (renamed Lo-Res in 2001) were created by Evan Christie, a student at Juliet Shen's Level 1 Typography class at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, WA. "Typefaces of the past, many of which are now staples of modern graphic design, took physical form as moveable type," said Evan. "I wanted to use a typeface that was never meant to take physical form, and Oakland was the perfect typeface to use because it embodies the birth of the digital era where nothing is tangible." Christie milled the maple down to type height and etched the letters in long strips using an epilog laser engraver. They were then cut off the strip into individual blocks.

It doesn't resolve any legibility issues, but it resulted in some beautiful prints and brought a smile to Zuzana's face. Thanks Evan!

(A flurry of attention has resurrected Oakland as of recently, as it is also one of 23 digital typefaces recently acquired by The Museum of Modern Art in New York.)

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