Hermann Zaph


“ Lettering and Typography are two dimensional architecture.”

Hermann reasoned that “ Lettering must communicate a text to the reader by the harmony of their proportions, the grouping of their lines and the balance of their contrasts”

Hermann Zapf, whose calling in life — “to create beautiful letters,”found expression in lush, steady-handed calligraphy and in subtly inventive typefaces that have brought words to readers on paper, on signposts, on monuments and on computer screens for more than half a century.

In 1934, Zapf began his four-year apprenticeship in February 1934 as a retoucher.

In 1935, Zapf attended an exhibition in Nuremberg in honor of the late typographer Rudolf Koch. This exhibition gave him his first interest in lettering. Zapf bought two books there, using them to teach himself calligraphy. He also studied examples of calligraphy in the Nuremberg city library. His master noticed his expertise in calligraphy and Zapf’s work shifted to retouching lettering and improving his colleagues’ retouching.

Among the pioneers of computerised typography, Zapf led a design program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Whilst collaborating with computer scientists, he became acquainted with IBM and Xerox. Zaph invented a typesetting program called Hz-program which later became a basis for the publishing software Adobe Indesign.

Together with Herb Kubalin and Aaron Burns, the founders of the International Typeface Corporation, Hermann Zaph built the company Design Processing International Inc in New York. Their goal was to develop programs for typographic structures that could be operated by non-specialists. The company existed until 1986. After the death of Lubalin, Zaph founded Zaph, Burns and Company in 1987, which existed until 1991.

In the 70s Zaph designed Zaph Dingbats which of course is famous still today. Typefaces he designed include Palatino, Optima and Zaphino

In an article by the New York Times, Mr kelly writes ; “What Michelangelo was to sculpture and Beethoven was to music, that’s what Hermann Zapf was to type design and calligraphy. ”

Bruce Weber, also from the New York times wrote ” Mr. Zapf evoked beauty as well as clarity, cleverness without hubris, invention without distraction. A master calligrapher who could reproduce a typeface by hand, he brought an admiration of the art of the pen to the art of the font. Conscious of history, he felt that type should both acknowledge tradition and reflect modernity.”











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