Critical approaches to typography: an international summer school

From 2 to 6 September 2019, the Plantin Institute of Typography and the University of Antwerp are organizing an international summer school about Critical approaches to typography.

Nowadays we can choose between a long list of fonts; professional documents can be delivered with only a small effort. Due to the continued development in desktop publishing software, more and more of the work is taken off our hands. At the same time, a lot of typographic conventions are taken for granted.

In this summer school Dr. Frank E. Blokland will take us on a journey during which we will critically reconsider these typographic conventions, so we will be able to avoid amateurish mistakes in the future and we will be knowledgeable to make better choices. When and why should typefaces be tracked or letterspaced? Do we need ligatures at all? Which fonts make a good combination and which ones combine badly? How can we improve the legibility of our documents?

Dr. Frank E. Blokland is a well-known Dutch type designer, font producer, software developer, and Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague and at the Plantin Institute of Typography in Antwerp. In 1990 he founded the Dutch Type Library (DTL), the first producer of digital typefaces in The Netherlands.

Guest speakers

This ambitious programme will also count on seven guest speakers who will each shine a light on their specialities. As we will learn that a lot of these typographic conventions have their root in the past, we will study historic materials from the collections of the Plantin-Moretus Museum and the University of Antwerp, and from a private collection. Some of the discussed topics are:

  • Corporate identity, by Jan Dries, communication expert of the University of Antwerp
  • Demonstration of typecasting in historical hand moulds, by Guy Hutsebaut, Plantin-Moretus Museum
  • Early typography in books from the 15th and 16th century, by Dr. Goran Proot, University of Udine
  • Arabic type design, by Lara Captan, type designer, Amsterdam
  • Historic research for the creation of a typeface revival, by Walda Verbaenen, alumna Plantin Institute of Typography
  • Font technology, by Dr. Juergen Willrodt, software developer URW, Hamburg
  • Typesetting and printing in the 19th century, by Patrick Goossens, historian and conservator, Antwerp.

Practical information

The summer school is meant for international bachelor and master students who want to gain a deeper understanding of typography and type design. Professionals such as graphic designers, graphic consultants and web designers are very welcome as well.

All sessions will be in English. The venue will be the city campus of the University of Antwerp, in the city’s historical centre.

The application deadline is 2 June 2019. A maximum of 20 participants will be accepted.

The registration fee of 600 euros includes the course material, coffee breaks, the welcome drink and the farewell diner. It does not include accommodation.

There is a reduced fee for students and alumni of the Plantin Institute of Typography and for students of the University of Antwerp.

The detailed programme and the application form is available via: