European travels in typography 2009

[Ed note: What follows is a mostly unedited trip report from Bill Moran (Design Minor) and a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, who leads 2009's M-term travels in typography.]

Hola/Halo/Ciao, because of various internet access challenges you will be receiving trip updates after the fact. My apologies but please read along and enjoy.

Travels in typography is underway again and we're having a fantastic time. The flight and ensuing jetlag have been no trouble and we've embarked on another typographic adventure! Our first stop was Madrid. The city's culture and history are making for a typographic palette that showcases Spanish printing and letterforms at their finest. Our first visit was to the historic city of Toledo. This walled city dates from the third century BC and hosts a rare book library collected by the Cardinals of the Catholic Church (Biblioteca Regional de Castilla la Mancha). We were shown books and manuscripts that dated from the 11th to 16th century including these little gems....

Toledo book 1

Toledo book 2

From there we went to the municpal museum where they housed 20 or so stunning examples of Roman inscriptions.

Roman inscription

Our sincere gratitude goes out to Dr. Rosa Almoguera and Carmen Morales for their hospitality.

On Thursday and Friday we spent the day setting type at Conde Duque with the friendly staff of Imprenta Artesenal. Like last year they graciously opened their shop to us for two days of typesetting and printing. We learned this year that while they host weekly tours we are the only group who actually comes to print. It was quite a priveledge. Part of our curriculum was to have the students interview these men and women whose work is to preserve printing history. It was intriguing to hear how various people got their start in this craft.

Typesetting at Imprenta Artesenal

Each evening students were asked to photograph letterforms found around the city. We'll be posting them to our Web site in the coming days.

On Saturday we boarded a train to the Mediterranean coast to visit our friends Adam and Tania. Adam is a UW Stout grad living and working in the town of Denia. They are both designers and Adam works as a type designer for the German company Linotype. The city of Denia has been continuously occupied since the first millenium BC. In the center of the city is a castle built by the Romans in the ninth century AD. The castle is now a museum that not only offers a stunning view of the sea but also tombstones from the second century AD.

Our students were allowed to do rubbings of the stones and we were all amazed at the precision and refinement of these 2000 year old letterforms. Another Spanish masterpiece we enjoyed was the paella made by Tania's uncles at their exquisite restaurant CaNano. We were joined by Adam and Tania's friends for late night guitar playing.

We are headed next to Germany and the beautiful city of Mainz. Look for another email soon.

Hasta Luego!

Bill Moran