TMG – Journal for Media History

Vol 19, No.2 (2016)

‘Typography in Media Historical Perspective’

Gutenberg’s invention of movable type has played a vital role in modern history. The introduction of new (digital) media technologies seems to signal a second typographical revolution, which will change our conceptions and practices of reading, writing and publication of texts radically. Therefore new forms of ‘information’, reflection, and research are needed.

Ekaterina Zaitseva and Kemal Eroğlu developed this experimental online prototype for this special issue of TMG of which the official version can be found here. They also designed the typographic layout of the pdf versions of the articles. This experimental website is a prototype and therefore only partly functional, and some of the functions, such as the reference to other relevant issues of TMG are simulated with arbitrary references.

The editorial board would explicitly like to thank Ewan Lentjes for his invaluable contribution to this special issue as guest editor.

‘Typografie in mediahistorisch perspectief’

Gutenbergs uitvinding van de boekdruk heeft een cruciale rol gespeeld in de ontwikkeling van de moderne geschiedenis. Met de nieuwe-mediatechnologie lijkt een tweede typografische revolutie haar intrede te doen. Onze opvattingen over lezen, schrijven en publiceren veranderen radicaal. Nieuwe vormen van ‘informatie’, reflectie en onderzoek dienen zich aan.

Als onderdeel van hun eindexamenproject voor de afdeling Graphic Design (ArtEZ Arnhem) hebben Ekaterina Zaitseva en Kemal Eroğlu een experimentele online prototype voor dit themanummer van TMG ontwikkeld waarvan de officiële versie hier kan worden geraadpleegd. Ze hebben ook zorg gedragen voor de typografische vormgeving van de pdf versies van de artikelen.
Aangezien deze experimentale website een prototype is, zijn niet alle functies uitgewerkt en sommige (zoals bijvoorbeeld de referentie aan relevante andere artikelen) gesimuleerd met arbitraire verwijzingen.

De redactie bedankt Ewan Lentjes die als gastredacteur een substantiële bijdrage heeft geleverd aan de totstandkoming van dit nummer.


Editor/redacteur: Jack Post

Guest Editor/gastredacteur: Ewan Lentjes

Editor-in-Chief/eindredacteur: Thunnis van Oort

Design/ontwerp: Ekaterina Zaitseva and Kemal Eroğlu

Coding (online version/versie): Bernd de Ridder

Mailing Address

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Oude Boteringestraat 23
9712 GC Groningen

Principal Contact

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Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid
Postbus 1060
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Phone: +31 (0)35 6777062

Support Contact

Bas Agterberg
Phone: +31 (0)35 6777062

Periodical Archaeology: Digital Production, Critical Discourse and Textual Communities in Emigre
DOI: 10.18146/2213-7653.2016.263
Published in 1989, Emigre magazine’s eleventh issue, Ambition/Fear: Graphic Designers and the Macintosh Computer, contains vivid artifacts of a discipline’s first encounter with digital tools. From the aesthetics of bitmaps to the expressive interventions made possible by new access to typesetting controls, not to mention the self-publishing venture of the magazine itself, this issue combines modernist and postmodern agendas in a model construction of text-based community. Looking closely at Emigre #11 and more passingly at later issues, this article analyses the technical, critical, and cultural production that would shape Emigre as a medium for typographic demonstration and discussion among peers.
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Graphic design was the first creative industry to be transformed by the personal computer. What can we learn from an examination of graphic designers’ introduction to Macintosh workspaces? How did the discipline’s ideology — its history, self-conception and discourse — predispose it towards the potential and significance of the technological changes its practices experienced in the 1980s? Did modernist principles guide designers’ approaches to digital techniques? How might postmodern preoccupations have shaped their perception of these new tools? How do these initial perspectives map onto the evolution of a discipline’s relationship to new media from screen-based design for print to networked interaction?

Emigre magazine, founded in Berkeley, California, by Rudy VanderLans and Zuzana Licko in 1984, was one of the first journals to be designed and produced on the Macintosh.1 Not only did Emigre’s appearance call attention to its design, but its content tackled critical issues underlying practical, technical and cultural developments in the field. It thus presents a privileged locus for the study of digitisation’s impact on graphic design as a profession and as a cultural force.

Emigre also set itself up as a digital foundry, producing and distributing typefaces designed by Licko and others. As sites for the display of these faces, Emigre’s pages offered both demonstrations of, and reflections on, the state of typographic design. The textual community built and sustained by these pages — the venue that Emigre provided for debate among practitioners — may have been its greatest contribution to the advancement of graphic design as a mode of thought and a body of knowledge. As Emigre’s editor, designer and publisher, VanderLans clearly pursued his own interests and articulated his own views. However, since these views valued diversity, Emigre played host to a range of perspectives and practices, elevating the positions not only of contributors, but also of guest editors, guest designers, students and readers to public notice.2


Debuting as a cultural review, distinguished by its border-crossing sensibility rather than by any particular subject matter, Emigre began to focus on design in its ninth and tenth issues. Entitled Ambition/Fear, Emigre #11 proposed the discussion of ‘Graphic Designers and the Macintosh Computer.’ The issue consists of fifteen interviews conducted by VanderLans with an international circle of his contemporaries.3 Each interview is labelled with the name and location of its subject and the date it was conducted.4 Together, these exchanges comprise a time capsule containing vivid artefacts of designers’ first encounters with the personal computer as a design platform. VanderLans asked new Mac users to describe its impact on their working methods, analyse its aesthetics, and speculate about its creative and practical potential. ‘Digital technology is a great big unknown,’ VanderLans and Licko wrote in their introduction to the issue.5 Their sense of a space to be explored, which is reflected in the blurred and shadowy abstraction of the background imagery on the magazine’s cover, prompts an inquiry, the scope of which keeps the issue fresh today.

Emigre #11 cover designed by Rudy VanderLans, 1989.

Figure 1: Emigre #11 cover designed by Rudy VanderLans, 1989.
Source: Rudy VanderLans.

This critical space proves broader, and its exploration delves deeper, than a cursory look at the issue might conclude. Emigre #11’s attempts to take stock of the material and conceptual changes wrought by graphic design’s incorporation of digital production capabilities led directly to aesthetic considerations, which themselves were seen as having social implications.

The history of this techno-aesthetic concern, as well as the context and effects of its surfacing at the time of Emigre #11’s publication, merit analysis. This legacy involves design’s role as an interpreter and mediator of the social meaning of technology — a theme to which Emigre directed attention throughout its existence and which has retained its relevance. Moving beyond issue #11, this essay will survey the full run of the journal as a demonstration of the social potential of new media and of typography’s part in the testing and representation of this potential. Insofar as Emigre prefigured the use of digital media to support open-ended, peer-to-peer discourse, it holds lessons for a fully deployed typographic design practice today.

Keys to the realm of production: initial effects of the Macintosh

As Andrew Blauvelt noted in “Tool (Or, Post-Production for the Graphic Designer),” the arrival of digital tools in design studios ‘disrupted a field that has always had a rather confused and conflicted relationship between the spheres of creation and production.’ This disruption ‘eliminated the work of various production artists, photomechanical technicians, keyliners, paste-up artists, [and] typesetters (…),’ he wrote. Moreover, the software that encapsulated and, to varying degrees, automated the work of these specialists brought its settings and controls not just to graphic designers but also to non-professionals.

In Blauvelt’s analysis, this situation required the profession to tell ‘a new story about the value of design.’ Since the computer appeared to be a substitute for practical skills, ‘the answer was to be found not in production, but in the realm of conception (…).’6 In fact, this ‘story’ was more of a sequel than it was a new narrative.

As a profession, graphic design was partly born of the specialisation that began to separate layout from composition in print shops at the turn of the twentieth century — that is, of a greater space made for typographic planning as distinct from its execution by typesetting. Modern design in general emerged from this kind of separation, to which industrial conditions gave rise and which tended to divide traditionally integrated crafts into intellectual and manual labour.7

By the middle of the twentieth century, graphic design professionals had sold themselves as conceptual consultants to businesses whose visual identities, they argued, required systems-thinking and programmatic design. Given its fundamental relationship with the history and identity of the field, it is not surprising that what Blauvelt called a ‘segregation… between hand skills and head skills’ should remain ‘at the heart of much professional discourse and angst.’8 This division and the feelings surrounding it inflect the discussion that VanderLans initiated with his interviewees regarding how they were coping with the ‘task of integrating this new technology into their daily practices.’

This portion of the interviews begins with versions of the question, ‘Will the Macintosh change the way we design or will it only change production processes?’9 Equally central to VanderLans’ investigation, yet overriding this question’s categorical distinction (design versus production), another primary topic pertains to the new opportunities for integration and creative control offered by the incorporation of production processes — particularly typesetting — into early graphic design software.

The macintosh as a machine

While some of his colleagues professed themselves to be relieved of the ‘drudgery’ of such ‘troublesome chores’ as paste-up and were glad to bid farewell to the tedium of working by hand with technical pens, ‘wax and rubber cement and scissors,’10 others appreciated the Macintosh’s elimination of the time, space and expense imposed by the intermediary of the typesetter.

Insofar as design begins where conception distinguishes itself from realisation, modern design has by definition entailed the communication of one’s idea to be translated by another.11 From hand- and machine-setting for letterpress to phototype and electronic setting for offset, designers’ sketches and ‘mechanicals’, type specifications and other instructions were handed off to technicians to be set, proofed, and later ‘statted’.12 Process documents passing between designers and typesetters bridged a technical gap that the Macintosh effectively closed (The skills- and knowledge-gap occasioned by this transfer would take more time to shrink, as the experience of prepress operators was gained by digital practitioners).


Closure of this gap was a cause for celebration and source of inspiration for several of those interviewed in Emigre #11, whose design interests were served by the new intimacy, power and freedom afforded by direct access to the settings that generate type. Rick Valicenti, who was still learning to use his ‘machine’, said, ‘I would like to be able to sit down and manipulate my type (…) and structure it in such a way that I can see it before it’s all played out.’ He describes noticing a book that seemed to have been typeset by a designer using a Macintosh, who apparently was able to monitor the text’s rags ‘at the typographer’s level.’ Valicenti concluded from this example that the Macintosh would allow him to ‘become a better typographer.’

Similarly, Jeffery Keedy explained that the Macintosh ‘gives me control over typography. I can see it, set it and I don’t have to count on a typesetter translating my specs.’13 Thanks to this assimilation, for Glenn Suokko, ‘Working with the computer is more of an organic design process than an abstract one.’14

With regard to the Macintosh, Philippe Apeloig reported, ‘I can [move] one letter, a word, a line, or even an entire paragraph. I can experiment and immediately see how it looks.’15 Instant visualisation, perhaps the greatest boon to the design process offered by Macintosh’s GUI and WYSIWYG features, was particularly powerful where type was concerned, since the effects of specifying different sizes and styles of type could only be sketched or imagined to limited degrees.16

Several conversations touch on the trade-off between a decrease in time and money spent on stats on one hand and the cost of an increase in time spent in front of a screen considering options on the other.17 However, for designers with an affinity for type and a desire for more detailed textual intervention, the trade-off was a net gain. In response to VanderLans’ question about the added responsibility that greater control over prepress production would entail, John Weber declared himself ‘willing to spend the extra time moving type around (…) because everything to me is a design decision.’18

‘After you buy your Macintosh, what do you think you will mostly use it for?’, VanderLans asked Henk Elenga. ‘Mostly to generate and manipulate type and create new typefaces,’ Elenga replied.19 In 1986, Fontographer had brought PostScript font editing software to the Macintosh. When VanderLans asked the two professional type designers he interviewed about this development, both made the same fundamental distinction. In response to VanderLans’ remark that personal computers ‘have brought type design within the reach of graphic designers and even non-professionals,’ Erik Spiekermann was direct: ‘Sorry, wrong question.’

Personal computers ‘brought font production within the reach of graphic designers,’ he specified, ‘Straightforward type design… just needs a pencil and a brain (…)’20 Prompted by the same opening remark, Matthew Carter echoed Spiekermann’s point: ‘Any fool can design type — it’s making it that has always been the problem,’ he said. Thus, the benefit of personal computers ‘is access not to designing type but to making fonts.’21

Production and design

In their introduction to Emigre #11, VanderLans and Licko laid out the reasoning behind interview questions about this and other shifts and elisions of practical boundaries. By giving designers control over ‘all aspects of production and design,’ they argued, the Macintosh would allow for ‘increased crossover between disciplines.’22 This movement between disciplines and the integration of process that results from it are analogous to the fluidity and consistency of the digitised forms themselves, since ‘[t]ext, image and layout all exist as manifestations of the same medium.’ For VanderLans and Licko, the creative consequences of this integration were clear. ‘[T]he capability of simultaneously editing text and composing the layout will influence both design and writing styles,’ they predicted. The promise of concentrated agency was equally dramatic: ‘It is now possible for one individual to take on all functions required in publishing, including writer, editor, designer,’ they wrote. Emigre magazine embodied this possibility.23


Authorship, then, as envisioned by VanderLans and Licko, does not stake its claim in self-defence against amateur incursions into graphic design’s professional territory. Nor does it take the form of a self-aggrandising misappropriation of literary theory.24 Authorship, according to Emigre’s example and vision, is the result of designers venturing beyond their expertise into the realms of content-creation and publication. In this pursuit, it is fair to say that VanderLans and Licko sketched a trajectory that would gain prominence among transdisciplinary designers — a trajectory the sweep of which was only to be enlarged by the Internet as a social and entrepreneurial platform.

In his perception of new media’s potential to expand roles, VanderLans was joined by some of the designers he interviewed. In Apeloig’s estimation, ‘the most significant change that computers have brought about (…) is that they have extended the boundaries of the graphic designer’s creativity.’25 Thus, seemingly material questions touching on technical tasks and workflow, reveal their pertinence to major changes in the identity and engagement of the designer.

The aesthetics of technological change

Motivations behind this altered engagement were called out by Emigre #11’s title: Ambition/Fear. As framed by the issue’s interviews, these postures take on both personal and cultural dimensions. From individual tendencies to theoretical intentions, a line is drawn, connecting aesthetics to principles of practice. These, in turn, raise historical questions about the survival of modernist premises of meaningful change — and its mass delivery by design — amid postmodern interests in subjectivity and repertoire, and into the digital age we inhabit.

Insofar as typography and graphic design owe their existence to production technologies, it makes sense that basic changes in these technologies would trigger essential questions about these disciplines. The history of ideas to which this relationship has given rise inform assumptions about the cultural role and aims of typographic design that account for what might otherwise appear to be a misguided focus on formal questions in the conversations that Emigre #11 presented.

The ambivalence conveyed by the backslash between ‘Ambition’ and ‘Fear’ surfaces occasionally in the magazine’s pages, induced by VanderLans’ pointed questions. However, the thrust of these questions is constructive, and the force behind them seems to be enthusiasm.26 In their introduction, Licko and VanderLans described the stage to which the Macintosh had brought graphic designers as elementary in the sense both of childlike engagement and fundamental importance: ‘This return to our primeval ideas (…) bring[s] excitement and creativity to aspects of design that have been forgotten since the days of letterpress. We are once again faced with evaluating the basic rules of design that we formerly took for granted.’27

Licko and VanderLans’ leap onto these foundations, then, is a critical one, and the objects of their assessment are to be no less than the principles of graphic design. One of these concerns the technological basis for graphic form and the role of the designer in reflecting this basis. The belief that a technology’s underlying structure or logic bears the terms of a specific vocabulary is closely associated with another premise: that these terms hold cultural meaning which it is the job of the artist or designer to expose. Both of these ideas can be traced to the formations of the modern movement in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.28

The survival of modernist premises

Given Emigre’s shorthand reputation as a bastion of postmodern attitudes, it may come as a surprise that this modernist concept informed many of VanderLans’ questions and some of the answers they elicited. While several of those interviewed responded with a postmodern sense of accumulation rather than supersession,29 a progressive assumption lies behind VanderLans’ frequent prompting to speculate in a futurist mode. Insofar as Emigre #11 encapsulated an inaugural moment, a preoccupation with the new (and its opposite, tradition) was perhaps to be expected. However, the framing of VanderLans’ questions indicate more than preoccupation.

In their epoch-marking terms, these questions recall Jan Tschichold’s tone of heroic modernism in “The New World-View.” Just as Tschichold saw his as a ‘new age’ in which designers should seek forms that would aid ‘the affected generation to draw the right conclusions for a new way of life’ from ‘new technical discoveries,’ so VanderLans began one of his recurring questions with the phrase, ‘Since we are entering a new era (…)’30 Just as Tschichold aligned himself with those whose sense of social purpose required ‘forms which do not, as previously, deny the necessary elements of their construction, but openly reveal and affirm them,’ so VanderLans’ question continued, ‘with people using computers more and more, do we as graphic designers have a responsibility to explore a new design aesthetic that is appropriate to this new technology?’31


Many credit Henri de Saint-Simon’s image of the cultural force needed to ‘spread new ideas among men’ in post-revolutionary France as the source of the notion of an artistic avant-garde.32 The lineage of modernist design’s use of this notion, however, might better be traced through William Morris who, in 1889, wrote, ‘It is our business as artists to show the world (…) which road the discontent of modern life must take in order to reach a fruitful home.’33

If graphic design’s intellectual history joins that of art at this defining moment, its on-going practice can similarly look to art for a model, according to some of VanderLans’ contemporaries. In order to achieve originality, for example, Valicenti recommended treating one’s ‘daily activity as a designer in the same way that artists treat their work.’ Originality, the modern ideal, was ascribed by Valicenti to an individual’s reflective experience rather than, as Tschichold and the modernist school of typography he codified would have it, to a formal solution that suited (and thereby revealed) its application.34

This originality as specificity — the adequacy and appropriateness of form to changed conditions — is what VanderLans, like Tschichold, challenged his peers to imagine and define. Keedy shared the hope that people would eventually use the computer for what it can specifically do. In the meantime, he lamented the fact that ‘many designers are looking for the computer to do things in a traditional way, even though that doesn’t make any sense; it’s a new mode of communication.’35


In “Design and Production in the Mechanical Age,” Ellen Lupton wrote about modern designers who, like Tschichold, ‘sought to (…) express the techniques of production in the form and appearance of the object (…) [and] to expose technology (…) [as] equipped with cultural meaning and aesthetic character (…).’36

Licko and VanderLans’ aesthetic interest in the Macintosh followed a similar logic. In their introduction to Emigre #11, they observed that, while high-end computers had refined their mimicry of existing media, ‘low-end machines force us to deal with more original, sometimes alien, manifestations.’ If ‘coarse bitmaps’ and ‘funky [typographic] spacing’ are characteristic expressions of a digital origin, VanderLans wondered, will this ‘inherent look (…) be part of [the Macintosh’s] contribution to a new design language?’37

Keedy’s response met the expectation implicit in this question: ‘To me the really interesting thing about the low resolution look, bitmapping or di-gitization, is that it’s a kind of visual embodiment of the concept of what it is to make information digital.’ Keedy’s next answer, with reference to the breadth of this style’s applicability, addressed the cultural responsibility to which VanderLans’ questions alluded: ‘[R]ight now, it is really helpful and important in (…) helping people understand that writing and drawing, and image and text, are becoming the same medium, and are coming through the same medium. Therefore, they are conceptually closer together than they once were.’38

A new digital aesthetics?

The lens that caused VanderLans to see his colleagues’ intricate typographic interpretations as revivals of early modern experiments rather than as the postmodern interventions they would come to represent is trained most often by the interviewer on the bitmap itself as an essentially digital form.39 The responses elicited by this interest mainly ranged from dismissive to circumscribed.40

The larger question of the Macintosh’s contribution, via the bitmap or otherwise, to a new aesthetic took a particular direction in VanderLans’ interviews with Spiekermann and Carter. Asked whether the Macintosh’s democratisation of typeface design would ‘change the essence of the letterform,’ Carter’s somewhat sceptical answer displayed a detailed knowledge of the history of his field. This answer replaced the postulation of a direct impact or essential form with an analysis linking stylistic evolution to the dynamics between amateur and professional typographic communities as these are affected by technological change.41

To the question ‘How should designers cope with the strong voice that is perceived as digital or bitmap?’, Carter responded with bemusement at the idea of focusing on digital bits as the elements of a composition. Nonetheless, he acknowledged the significance of bitmap technology, which, like Keedy, he saw as ‘historically unique in treating type and graphics in the same way.’ He concluded that the ‘strong voice’ of visible bitmaps celebrated this union. However he challenged the proposition of a technically defined style where type is concerned on social grounds:

I’ve never really believed in an aesthetic based on the tools of typography of the kind that works, for example, in architecture (…). [S]howing the nuts and bolts in typography in the interest of “truth to materials” is less convincing, perhaps because the act of reading is constrained by much stricter conventions than the use of buildings.42

Asked if he has noted any ‘specific qualities’ in digital type ‘that point towards a new type design aesthetic,’ or whether, on the contrary, the ‘new medium’ would and should ‘be subservient to traditional forms,’ Carter responded with an image of two paths. The first, taken by independent ‘digital punchcutters,’ would lead, he said, to a profusion of spontaneous and eclectic faces, mainly for display purposes. The second, by contrast, would lead experienced type designers away from a focus on the technical basis of type, since this basis would continue to change at a pace that was not on a par with the ‘life expectancy’ of a typeface. Carter placed his faith in ‘ “[d]evice-independent” types that will work across a range of technologies.’

Such faces, he imagined, would be used by smart ‘typesetting systems that modify letterforms to compensate for output conditions.’ Instead of a new technology demanding a new form, Carter saw the affordances of digital design as enabling a return to traditional standards. ‘Building intelligence into the font will enable us,’ he predicted, ‘(…) to return to the time-honored typefounding practice of nonlinear scaling of type sizes, something that got put aside when phototypesetters learned how to enlarge and reduce type from a single master.’43

If Carter’s interest in adaptability feels contemporary, it may be because it not only accommodates the open-endedness of technological succession, but also prioritises application over expression. In moving beyond VanderLans’ question regarding typographic form, Carter shifted the emphasis to typographic media. In so doing, he recast typography’s cultural role from bearing the meaning of technological change to maintaining standards which, as conventions, support reading practices regardless of technological change.44

In a talk published six years later, Lorraine Wild would reflect that ‘the inherent weakness of graphic design as a discipline for understanding the wider operations of new media is its insistence on isolating the visual translation as the final product of the designer.’45

As representatives of the adjacent discipline of typeface design, both Carter and Spiekermann foregrounded functionality as trumping (rather than requiring, as Tschichold would have it) formal innovation. In response to VanderLans’ question regarding the immanence of a digital aesthetic, Spiekermann started from a progressive and non-essentialist position: ‘Our typefaces have had five thousand [sic] years to develop into the present shape — there’s no reason why they shouldn’t go on developing.’ However, he cautioned:

You need to stick to traditional forms if you want to communicate without distracting ordinary readers — prejudice is just another word for traditional values, and certain people have certain prejudices about what is legible and what is not — depending on cultural background, age, language, expectations, etc.46

Thus, recognising the role of context, convention and habit, Spiekermann advocated formal continuity for pragmatic reasons. The issue of standards, which both Spiekermann and Carter addressed as the social dimension of established forms, was raised by VanderLans himself in his interview with Clement Mok, whose pioneering designs for Apple would prove formative. Regarding his work with Hypercard, Mok candidly acknowledged his shortcomings of process and preparedness to design for change. ‘You are one of the first designers to explore and design Hypercard stacks,’ VanderLans remarked, ‘Do you realize that (…) you will be setting certain standards in terms of design?’ ‘Yes,’ Mok replied,

[A]nd this is kind of sad, because I realize that what I am relying on is my print background. I am relying on my understanding of traditional typographic and design structures. This is what I know, this is how I know how to set the structure of information.47

From the design of letterforms in a typeface to the visual presentation of a new informational structure, we arguably move closer to the heart of the question of typography’s responsibility to represent the nature or potential of technology. For Tschichold, the pervasive effects of mass production on everyday life made every formal problem to be solved a cultural issue as well. For the last thirty years, social transformations precipitated by market developments of digital and networking technologies have posed an analogous problem. Mok’s remarks signalled the challenge that awaited graphic design as a facilitator of new media’s assimilation.

Design as interface and the coming of the Web

Emigre #11 was published in 1989, several years before the commercialisation of the Internet.48 However, the eventual status of the desktop computer as a portal to a vast electronic communications network was glimpsed by some of the designers VanderLans interviewed. For others, most often including VanderLans himself, questions of visual form took precedence over those of social use (except insofar as these touched on graphic design’s professional claims to expertise).49

In some respects, Emigre #11’s scrutiny of the bitmap seemed to prefigure a fixation that would skew paths of inquiry for years to come, blocking the looming primacy of interaction over interpretation from a discipline’s view, for example, and the configuration of new media by neo-functionalism, rather than by critical practice.50 For critics of Emigre, this short-sightedness would continue to plague its key contributors, whose attention to authorship was seen to minimise concern for the audience. However, VanderLans’ inclusive interests and practical purposes broadened Emigre’s editorial arc and lent its course coherence. Emigre #11 broached some of the topics that would chart this course: the nature of information and the stakes of its design, for example, as well as the implications of graphic design’s technical and social expansion.


In his response to a question about whether ‘the computer restricts personal expression,’ Carter reframed the problem as one of overwhelming possibility, foreseeing that profusion and diffusion would pose the greater challenge to the profession: ‘Graphic designers, used to dealing with text, static images and color, will suddenly find themselves with a tool that does sound, video and animation as well.’51 This scene evokes the media-rich environment of graphic design for ‘multimedia.’ CD-ROMs were multimedia’s portable format, and interactivity was its fourth dimension. Interactivity and the new light in which it cast design were mentioned when VanderLans asked why Keedy believes that the Macintosh ‘must’ contribute to a new design language:

So many designers are marginalizing the importance of the computer as some sort of stylistic or formalistic production tool. To me the most important aspect of the computer is not just that it’s for producing information, but that it’s also about the processing and consumption of information. It is impacting the areas of how information is used. And as that changes, the way we think about design and how we actually design things will change.52

Keedy’s point, however abstract, touched on the design of interfaces as participating in scenarios of use and processes of knowledge production — issues of central importance to typography’s role on the Web.


The Internet, or something like it, appeared in the near-futures imagined by several of Emigre #11’s interviewees. April Greiman believed that professional designers would benefit from the socialisation of design through the sharing capacity of new media:

It’ll be interesting to see what will happen in another three years or so. Kids know how to use this now, and everyone will be modeming and using electronic bulletin boards and what not. (…) [I]t will make the people with traditional design backgrounds and the people with the high-end equipment who know what they are doing push themselves further.53

Suokko, for his part, hoped that designers’ exploratory use of digital tools will lead to a place where ‘the computer becomes the medium.’ Although print remained design’s destination for the time being, he said, ‘[t]he computer as an environment for text and image, sender and receiver, holds tremendous potential. Hypercard hints at [this], but (…) it will be some time before we can realize any kind of large-scale effect.’ For Malcolm Garrett, one such large-scale effect would be the replacement of the book by ‘what I call the world information library.’54

These glimmers of a future dominated by the Internet — a future in which not only would multimedia design be replaced by website design, but the power of the Web as a social platform would proliferate — only shine through Emigre #11’s pages in hindsight. The stage that Emigre set for a debate about design’s role in this future — a debate between theory and practicality, between critical intervention and functionalist empowerment, between individualism and collaboration — stands out more clearly in subsequent issues.

Emigre’s orchestration of debate

At the risk of stretching a metaphor, it is worth taking a moment to consider the openness of this stage. Open to conflicting views within a given issue and to a variety of typographic approaches to representing these views in successive issues, Emigre presented a paradigm for the indeterminate and evolutionary expansions of networked media. While some have conflated the magazine’s challenging typography with the designerly self-indulgence of a small group whose theoretical interests excluded the majority of the field, it can be argued that, on the contrary, Emigre’s strategies of legibility-testing and visual complexity sought above all to represent range and difference.


Midway through Emigre’s run, in a 1996 issue dedicated to The Next Big Thing, Lorraine Wild described what sounds like a trap when she reflected that, in trying to resist the harnessing of their skills by forces of ‘social control through the mass media,’ some designers had begun to ‘subject the public language of design to a deconstructed, critical reading’ and ultimately, ‘to deny the ability to use that public language at all.’

In the same issue (Emigre #39), Kenneth FitzGerald’s review of Elliott Earls’ CD-ROM, Throwing Apples at the Sun, celebrated design’s appropriation of critical theory. ‘For Earls,’ FitzGerald wrote, ‘design is a battleground of cultural self-expression. The designer must confront oppressive social forces to assert an individual, progressive voice.’ While FitzGerald questioned the premise that design’s authorship should be personal, he praised the ‘exceptionally lively experience’ created by Earls in the space that his ‘theorizing’ had cleared.

Emigre #39 also included a review by Carl Francis DiSalvo of Avital Ronell’s Telephone Book designed by Richard Eckersley. The seven-year gap between the appearance of Ronell’s book and the appearance of this review suggests both the delay with which post-structuralist theory infused design discourse and the overlay of points of view in Emigre’s pages. While Wild looked back somewhat unfavourably to the impact of ‘deconstructed, critical reading[s]’ on design practice, DiSalvo applauded the performative power of the Telephone Book’s ‘complex formatting,’ which, he explained, ‘functions as an exposition of the theory.’55

Overlapping practices

Productively, if at times confusingly, the concerns of professional and critical practice overlapped in Emigre, and this overlap was discernible in both the texts and in the design of the magazine. In fact, DiSalvo’s phrase ‘complex formatting’ could just as aptly be applied to the ever-changing look of Emigre itself. This look’s tendency towards customisation holds for #11 in which, as Andrew Blauvelt has noted, intertextuality and dialogue are realised and enabled typographically. In VanderLans’ design, each interview was assigned a different size and / or weight of Emigre faces Oblong and Matrix, and its own column width.56 Thus distinguishable, the interview texts, which tend to be multiple on any given page, parallel or intersect each other. As a typographic image of diversity, this design symbolises Emigre’s record as a publication that never seemed to have needed to consolidate an identity, but which allowed tensions between differing views to play out on its pages instead.

In 1993, VanderLans described the vitality of this exchange among ‘graphic designers, worldwide, who continue to regard Emigre as a meeting ground for new ideas. They send us samples of their professional work and personal experiments and they write letters, often challenging whatever we have taken for granted in graphic design. In turn, we challenge them (…).’57

Emigre #11 spread: verso designed by Rudy VanderLans, recto designed by John Weber, 1989.

Figure 2: Emigre #11 spread: verso designed by Rudy VanderLans,
recto designed by John Weber, 1989.
Source: Rudy Vanderlans

How to characterise the editorial temperament that accommodated this diversity? In his own contribution to an issue that brims with topical, polemical, and substantive arguments (#34), VanderLans referred to his inclusion of work from the Cranbrook Academy of Art years earlier:

I never felt an affinity for the theoretical underpinnings that informed some of the work coming out of Cranbrook. What I did recognize, though, was a common interest in the Macintosh, a curiosity to question typographic traditions and, more importantly, the need to create work that allowed room for the designer’s voice… Instead of buying into the fabricated singular narrative of modernism that would lead us all to an imagined better world, these designers were dealing with the world as it really was: fragmented, ironic, chaotic, humorous, ambiguous, and with room for many individual voices to be heard.58

Elsewhere, VanderLans called the results generated by ‘the new theories’ disappointing where design for print designs was concerned. However, he praised Ray Gun in terms that responded surprisingly to Robin Kinross’s social critique of deconstructed or otherwise expressive typography. VanderLans argued, ‘If “[t]he reproduction and distribution of text is part of the life-blood of social-critical dialogue,” as the critic Robin Kinross says, then Ray Gun must be considered quite successful,’ since it is ‘completely dissected by its readers.’59 The same could be said for Emigre, which was voraciously read both visually and verbally by fans and detractors alike.

Experimentalism and functionalism

As does the title of the piece in which they occur, ‘Radical Commodities,’ these comments reconciled seemingly contradictory positions. Similarly, experimentalism and functionalism were united, according to VanderLans, in the work of his partner:

At Emigre, Zuzana Licko started her career as a type designer working mostly on experimental fonts that directly addressed the limitations of low resolution computer screens and dot matrix printers. From the very start, these designs were undertaken to expand, improve or add something of use.60

As his delineation of the interest he took in the Cranbrook scene would suggest, two other terms might be linked to describe the design philosophy underpinning VanderLans’ publishing program: multicultural modernism.61 Accordingly, while VanderLans may have asserted and adjusted his own views on the role of typography as a bearer of textual and cultural meaning, his editorial choices and layouts wove together divergent strains of design criticism and a range of theoretical sources.62


As perspectives shifted from one piece to another within an issue, so technological changes brought new questions and concerns to the fore in Emigre from one issue to the next. In #40, The Info Perplex, guest editor Andrew Blauvelt proposed a framework for extending the project of critical design practice to interactive media.
Blauvelt’s essay critiqued functionalist discourse in information design and mechanistic communication theory. His embrace of the rhetorical possibilities of information design in time-based media combined concepts from postmodern architectural theory and post-structuralist ‘language game’ theory with cultural studies’ attention to the ‘social contexts in which communication (…) occurs’ and the ‘cultural identities’ of audiences to be engaged.

Blauvelt’s essay, while focused on the specific affordances of new information technologies, avoided the pitfalls of techno-determinism by keeping in mind, as Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin prescribed, the social dynamics and economic dimensions of media. For Blauvelt, the compelling aspect of ‘multimedia’ is that it ‘has a potential to express the hybrid nature of information,’ which can be ‘rendered as the complex phenomenon it represents.’63

Typography as a social platform

Blauvelt’s essay offered a technological update and a synthesis of much of the theory that fuelled debate in the pages and volumes separating it from Emigre #11. However, his reiteration of this theory’s critical imperative — to ‘use the tools and grammar of media against itself to reveal suppressed information, articulate alternative viewpoints, and engage spectators in a more active form of viewing’64 — found no resonance in VanderLans’ own use of the Web by this time (1996), nor in his evolving relationship with writing and its typographic (re)presentation. In his introduction to Emigre #39, VanderLans found fault with both sides of the typographic discussions his journal had sparked and carried: not only had the new theories ‘generated disappointing results’ in print, but the old theory had failed to adapt ‘to the new environments of electronic publishing.’ ‘[I]f legibility is a social concern,’ he asked, then why have ‘our most respected typographers’ largely neglected the problem of typographic excellence on screen? In this setting, he continued, ‘we see more use for the teachings of the young Jan Tschi-chold than the writings of, let’s say, Frances Butler.’ Faced with the technical difficulties and overload of current information technologies, he wrote, the simplicity advocated by Tschichold was ‘far more practical than the multi-level, interactive, hypertextual and audiovisual forms of communication’ promoted by critics like Butler.65

In his introduction to Emigre #48, VanderLans justified the plainness of Emigre’s commercial website in terms that followed Tschichold’s functionalist principle of clarity. In response to letters from designers who said the site ‘sucks’ and to the question, ‘Why has all this experimentation and excitement for new technology not continued in the design of our web site…?’

VanderLans defended the site as being ‘highly innovative,’ and contended that ‘many graphic designers fail to recognize this because they focus on surface features.’ Confronted with ‘a technology that enables information (…) to be delivered faster than lightning (…) what do graphic designers do? They dress it up with effects.’ The design of Emigre’s site combined ‘integrated information structures, simple interfaces and common sense (…),’ he argued, ‘it wasn’t meant to look cool; it was meant to work.’66

Entrepreneurial opportunities

This introductory essay reprises a theme that recurred throughout Emigre’s run — that of ‘designers becoming initiators and producers.’67 Emigre, as a venture integrating publishing and commerce, was empowered by the Macintosh, wrote VanderLans, to produce ‘our own products: a magazine and a series of digital typefaces.’ Describing the magazine as an opportunity to display these faces and test their reception by fellow designers, VanderLans credited the Web as a democratising force of distribution.68 His insight into the entrepreneurial opportunities made available to designers by digital media is most remarkable for its immediacy.

This insight dates back to the inception of Emigre in 1984 and is reflected in Emigre #11’s introductory essay. In fact, Licko and VanderLans’ comments there seem to forecast the social prospects of the Web, including niche marketing and on-line communities. ‘By making publishing and dissemination of information faster and less expensive,’ they affirmed, ‘computer technology has made it feasible to reach a smaller audience more effectively.’69

Emigre’s provenance — the Bay Area in the mid-1980s — lends context to VanderLans’ later comment (Emigre #46) that he had always considered Emigre a fanzine, and situated the ethos from which his interest in zines arose. This ethos valued the ‘self-determination’ that comes from ‘control over the creation, manufacture, and distribution of creative products.’

In 1998, when this Fanzines and the Culture of DIY issue appeared, VanderLans noted the launch of academic programmes designed to educate the ‘designer as producer / entrepreneur,’ which, he wrote, ‘might be precursors of things to come, as graphic designers are starting to look beyond solving other people’s “problems”.’70 While the website that sold its fonts may not have been experimental, the overall Emigre enterprise, with its critical journal as specimen sheet, certainly was.

The community of designer / reader / critics engendered and sustained by this sheet was unique in its moment. The practical and conceptual ties linking this community, the question of writing’s relationship to design, and the journal’s typography will structure a final consideration here of Emigre’s significance in its time and its relevance to the issues facing typographic design today.

Writing and design

The distance that might separate VanderLans’ work as a designer / writer / publisher from the work Emigre published at any given time can be measured via a comment he made in his introduction to Emigre #39 regarding the Elliott Earls project that was reviewed favourably by FitzGerald in the same issue (see above). VanderLans wrote that, while he could appreciate the disparate character of text in Earls’ multimedia piece, ‘When reading an essay (…) I crave for knowing what the author means so that I can learn and respond and ask specific questions if necessary.’71 This traditional notion of meaning as intended and delivered by a text contrasts with that of meaning as produced by a reading for which the stage is set, whether critically or conventionally, by a text’s typography.72

VanderLans cited the theoretical and experimental cases made by Emigre’s contributors over the years for graphic intervention in a text’s delivery (and might have included some of his own layouts among these experiments), but concluded that ‘their applicability to the real world (…) has proved to be limited.’73

Limits were embraced by Emigre #39’s design, the typographic system of which is exceptionally simple, its elaboration being mainly confined to the use of red ink to highlight phrases within text blocks.74 Another notably pared-down layout can be found in Emigre #47, the introduction to which includes statements by VanderLans that conflicted explicitly with the advocacy of critical practice often attributed to the journal: ‘The worth of the articles, to me, resides entirely in their content (…) why should I try and interfere with that and present it differently for my audience?’

Again, the notion of textual content as preexisting typographic form and its engagement by a designer or reader sits somewhat awkwardly alongside the arguments of Emigre’s key writers, some of whom were mentioned by VanderLans as counterpoints to his perspective. ‘Jeffery Keedy, in Emigre #43, makes an appealing case for why designers should interfere,’ he writes. ‘Nonetheless, the layouts in Emigre have become simpler over the years.’75

Whereas his colleagues might have championed expressive typography on critical grounds, VanderLans disarmingly confessed that insecurity about the quality of his writing may have been the motivation for complicating his layouts: ‘[B]ut the more confident of my writing I became (…) the less I felt a need to deconstruct or add (…) visual meaning to a text. Instead, I let the text speak for itself.’

A footnote to this introduction provides yet another indication of the space made for differences in Emigre’s pages. While the previous year’s Mercantile Issue (#42) had featured Alan Marshall’s critical-historical analysis of the business interests underlying what he called the ‘Morison / Monotype doctrine,’ in #48 VanderLans cited Morison’s First Principles of Typography as a ‘milestone’. One of the most frequently mentioned precepts in this milestone is that ‘any disposition of printing material which (…) has the effect of coming between author and reader is wrong.’76 This dictum would seem to condemn many of the designs and vindications that comprised Emigre’s legacy.

Thus, VanderLans’ proximity to Morison’s standpoint might seem contradictory at first, but this affiliation appears more coherent if viewed in the light of the magazine’s commitment to such variance as the Morison reference itself represents here. That is, by whatever typographic means, VanderLans arguably always treated Emigre as a shared text, and Morison’s insistence on convention was founded, however problematically, on a valorisation of typography’s social utility.77

In Emigre’s sociably titled Do You Read Me? issue (#15), Zuzana Licko reasoned that qualities ascribed to typefaces are themselves socially based. Unpacking Morison’s rule that ‘type must be familiar,’ Licko summed up her analysis by saying that legibility is ‘a dynamic process, as readers’ habits are everchanging’ in an oft-cited formulation of her own: ‘You read best what you read most.’ Morison’s Times Roman, for example, is not, she contended, ‘intrinsically legible.’78 Instead, its habitual use has bred a familiarity that makes it so. By such arguments, Licko implicated type and typography in the social text of history. Design’s part in the composition of this social text was a subject of fundamental interest throughout Emigre’s run. Seen from this angle, another of Emigre’s favoured topics, that of design’s relationship to writing, assumes its full scope.


How does typography write? What social interests and cultural purposes are served by the typographic codes of textual presentation? This inquiry might appear self-involved in the hands, or fonts, of designers, but as overseen by VanderLans, it never fails to engage an audience — even if that audience is largely made up of peers. Thus, while the Mouthpiece issues (#35 and #36, guest-edited by Anne Burdick) assumed their positions in the legibility wars then waging among a relatively small group of practitioners and critics, the stakes of this battle were seen to lie well beyond this circle.

So, too, should designers transcend their discipline and its professional confines, wrote Gérard Mermoz in “On Typographic Reference (Part One)”. Mermoz concluded that what was needed was not necessarily more interpretive treatments by designers, but ‘more collaborations between authors and designers,’ for example, ‘to enrich the reading process by a recourse to the semantic resources of typography.’79

Emigre ’s critical engagement

In this as in other instances, Emigre can be seen to stand for a critical awareness of agency leading to an expansion of engagement. Emigre #58, the Everyone is a Designer! Manifest for the Design Economy issue, which reprinted work edited by NL. Design, represented the range of this engagement. This issue’s bold colours, type and aphorisms mixed and mashed all sorts of stances with regard to the historical and technological situation in which graphic design found itself, often juxtaposing widely divergent views across a single spread.80

On the inside front cover, an unsigned text warns that ‘Along with its democratic potential, new media has also become inseparable from commerce. Money is designing the world.’81 Opposite this text, three vertically set, all-caps words read: ‘Reclaim public space.’

Thus, at a time (in the wake of the crash) of reflection on the commercialisation of the Web, Emigre welcomed a host of prompts to look beyond the roles in which designers and typography were being cast by these commercial forces — even as Emigre itself continued to operate as a hybrid critical and commercial venture, placing its catalogue at the centre of the journal and conducting a marketing survey inside the jacket it had added to the cover.82

Meanwhile, on one of the magazine’s shared pages, Max Kisman asked whether designers would rebel against ‘[i]nterface stupidity (…) and push forward with a new visual language of aesthetic functionality, embedded in a broader set of social, cultural and political a-priori?’83 This call for sophisticated proaction in the face of new media’s incipient economic structure revives the impulse that VanderLans exemplified in seizing the technical, cultural and social capacities of the first desktop tools. sources of typography.’79


Since 2001, when that call for sophistication in interface design was published, the emerging discipline of interaction design has staked out a field that it proposes to be distinct from graphic design — founded not on formal principles, but on user-centred and collaborative processes. While usability may have been seen as a problematic concept by many of the designers whose reactions mark the pages of Emigre #58, this quality figures centrally in a section of the next issue in which VanderLans updated the history of Emigre Fonts.

“A Synthesis of Bitmap Fonts” begins ‘More than fifteen years ago, Zuzana Licko designed a series of coarse bitmap fonts, created on the newly introduced Macintosh computer with crude public domain software.’ Seen as idiosyncratic, he wrote, these faces were initially dismissed as soon to be rendered obsolete by higher display and output resolutions.

‘Recently, however, coarse bitmapped fonts have made a huge comeback,’ VanderLans remarked, as a result of their utility on the screens of cell phones, pagers, kitchen appliances, and so on. A bitmap font, he explained, is ‘designed to be optimized for a specific resolution,’ and it is this fine-tuning to technical standards that makes a bitmap face so apt. Since, ‘screen display has become the final method of viewing much of our information’ and ‘computers are increasingly affecting (…) [our relation to] everything around us,’ the ‘bitmapped aesthetic is here to stay,’ he concluded.84

Our immersion in networked media has implications for typography beyond the display of information. In 2011, Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton noted that, in grasping ‘the tools of creative production (…) [r]ecent design has taken a pragmatic turn, emphasizing process, situation, and social interaction over a fixed and final outcome.’ Given ‘the increasingly open nature of design practice and the open access to tools,’ they wrote, ‘co-authorship, reference, and collectivity’ take the place of a previous investment in authorship.85

It is this very experience of unfinished collective process that one has when perusing Emigre’s issues, which overflow with unresolved differences, open-ended questions and test-run formats. While Blauvelt assigned the emergence of the designer as an ‘orchestrator of frameworks’ to what he called the age of postproduction, a version of this meta- role already belonged to the designer as publisher — or at least to VanderLans, who chose to let his readers write and writers guest-edit rather than to steer a discussion or to decide its outcome.86

The old schism between design and production was ‘outmoded’, according to Blauvelt, partly ‘because it considers only the actions and possible roles of its own official agents (designers) instead of the complex and fluid social relationships and networks in which they are entwined with other players.’ While Emigre’s roving eye attended to these relationships, the community of its user-producers, the crowd that surrounded its pages, were almost all specialists-designers and even designers’ designers. Nonetheless, among this crowd, a culture was fostered that could serve as a model for today’s socialised design and design-enabled networks.

Blauvelt both celebrated and criticised the Internet’s sharing culture, which had replaced the scepticism of his generation with a ‘newfound optimism’. Bringing his ‘90s-era’ criticality to bear on this situation, he observed that most of the graphic design shared on-line ‘circulates in a free-floating, contextless, post-critical space.’87 This ‘vacuum’ contrasted sharply with the critical saturation of Emigre’s pages, which dripped analyses and arguments into the studios of its subscribers and the conversations of its readers. Emigre’s exploratory use of new technologies and tentative appropriation of theoretical models may have been historically specific, but its result — a mass of questions raised both verbally and visually by implicated practitioners — holds together as an example for thoughtful practice today.


As a collection of snapshots of designers unpacking their new digital equipment, Emigre #11 revealed the significance of production to the identity of graphic design and to the orientation of its practice. Software’s incorporation of production settings, which now underlie routine modes and protocols of typographic practice, can be seen in its initial, disruptive phase to place a mirror before designers, prompting them to take a fresh look at a defining relationship.

As a cursor that reinserts us into the historical context of this reckoning, Emigre #11 reminds us of the legacy of early modernist views of this relationship — between design and production, aesthetics and technology — and the carry-over of these views’ social frame into postmodern dispositions. Thus, a priority placed on formal integration and structural exposition commingled on Emigre #11’s pages with an interest in new resources for individual freedom of stylistic expression. If only as a reminder that eras in the history of ideas do not fit cleanly into separate and successive segments, this layered moment is worth entering.

Finally, as a point of departure for considering the journal’s relevance to contemporary practice, #11 exemplifies Emigre’s overall project of transdisciplinary expansion through proactive annexation of the platforms afforded by digital and networked media. Paired with a broad critical interest in graphic design’s cultural agency, this inclination towards content generation, distributed authorship, publication and commerce produced a rich record of experimentation and reflection.

This record remains a reference for anyone interested in gaining critical traction or clearing speculative space amid the rushes of market-driven, technology-contingent practice.


Emily McVarish is Associate Professor of Graphic Design at California College of the Arts, where she teaches typography, writing, and design history. A writer, desig-ner, and book artist, she has maintained a hybrid practice in San Francisco since 1990. Her work has been exhibited internationally, published by Granary Books, and collected by Harvard University and the British Library, among other major libraries and museums. In collaboration with Johanna Drucker, she co-authored Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide (2013) published by Prentice Hall. Her critical writing has been featured in Visible Language and Design and Culture.


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1. ‘The fact that the introduction of the Macintosh coincided with the publication of the first issues of Emigre certainly gave us a tremendous jolt of energy and a new outlook on design. We were among the first to produce graphic design on this machine and that is why people first paid attention to our work.’ Rudy VanderLans, “Introduction: All Fired Up,” Emigre #26: All Fired Up (1993): 1.

2. Emigre #11 is emblematic of this open-door policy, as its credits suggest. In them, we find the names of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) students who designed the issue’s page numbers and of the six interviewees who ‘were invited to each create one page with the Macintosh.’ Unattributed, Emigre #11: Ambition/Fear (1989) [hereafter Emigre #11]: 1.

3. 3. A list of these designers overlays images of a floating tape recorder (used by VanderLans to conduct his interviews) and a globe, along with the receding words ‘Ambition/Fear’ on the magazine’s cover: “Philippe Apeloig, Paris; John Weber, Columbus; Henk Elenga (Hard Werken), Los Angeles; Takenobu Igarashi, Tokyo; Gerard Hadders and Rick Vermeulen (Hard Werken), Rotterdam; Rick Valicenti (Thirst), Chicago; Max Kisman, Amsterdam; Clement Mok, San Francisco; Erik Spiekermann, Berlin; Jeffery Keedy, Los Angeles; Glenn Suokko, Minneapolis; April Greiman, Los Angeles; Malcolm Garrett (Assorted images), London; Aad van Dommelen (Proforma), Rotterdam; Matthew Carter, Boston.” VanderLans, Emigre #11, cover.

4. According to these labels, the interviews were conducted between January 1988 and January 1989.

5. Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans, “Ambition/Fear,” Emigre #11, 1.

6. Andrew Blauvelt, “Tool (Or, Post-production for the Graphic Designer),” in Graphic Design: Now in Production, ed. Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2011), 23–24.

7. These conditions include not only technological developments affecting printing directly, but also the broader economic changes brought about by the industrial production of goods and media and the increased demand for design and printing that these markets entailed. For an account of these conditions in the U.S., see Ellen Mazur Thomson, The Origins of Graphic Design in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 85–105.

8. Blauvelt, “Tool,” 23.

9. Licko and VanderLans, Emigre #11, 1; VanderLans, ibid., 4, 8, 12, 14, 22, 24, 30, 32.

10. Philippe Apeloig, ibid., 4; Takenobu Igarashi, ibid., 32; Henk Elenga, ibid., 14, 18.

11. This communication, as Blauvelt noted, relied on codified forms, such as ‘[d]rawings, pasted-up layouts, instructional overlays, coordinated color systems, standardized ink formulation and paper sizes, prototypes, models, and reprographic proofs (…)’ Blauvelt, “Tool,” 24.

12. Mechanicals present(ed) final artwork and instructions for all elements of a job to be printed. Stat is short for photostat: a photographic copy of type or artwork that could be scaled for preview or reproduction.

13. Rick Valicenti, Emigre #11, 3; Jeffery Keedy, ibid., 3. Valicenti was not alone in referring to the Macintosh as a machine. In the concrete context of pre-digital design processes, it made sense that hardware rather than software should represent the technology that entered their studios for these practitioners.

14. Glenn Suokko, ibid., 11. Suokko saw this organicism as a renewal: ‘Historically, our graphic design ancestors (…) set type. Many of them printed as well.’ Ibid.

15. Apeloig, ibid., 17.

16. The GUI or ‘graphical user interface’ is the visual means whereby data are accessed and manipulated by a computer’s user. WYSIWYG stands for ‘what you see is what you get,’ i.e., the promise of text and images appearing on screen exactly as they will appear when output. Rick Valicenti’s description of his own powers of visualisation — powers no doubt shared to varying extents by his peers — provides an important qualification of claims of radical change brought about by the Macintosh in this regard: ‘I know in my head what an “M” or “N” space looks like. And I know when I add one or two points how that will make it look. I previsualize leading. I have a good ability to imagine or visualize what the thing will look like. And then it’s just a matter of writing it out for the typesetter, and I produce pretty tight sketches. When I need to write in twelve point, my hand writes close to twelve point. And with the Mac, instead of writing it all out for the typesetter, I’ll be typing it out.’ Valicenti, ibid., 4.

17. VanderLans and Valicenti, for example, discussed the economics of this shift at length. Ibid., 4–5.

18. John Weber, ibid., 30.

19. Elenga, ibid., 18. Like many others interviewed, Elenga described his design process as being hamstrung by its reliance on typesetting services: ‘I do a lot of distorting of type and strange letterspacings, which are really expensive to send out to a conventional typesetter.’ Ibid.

20. Erik Spiekermann, ibid., 12. Spiekermann was careful to except bitmap fonts from this distinction since, with bitmap fonts, ‘at the end of the design process you have also the production of a font.’ Ibid.

21. Matthew Carter, ibid., 22.

22. Licko and VanderLans, ibid., 1. Max Kisman shared this expansive view: ‘You’re able to bring together a variety of disciplines and have complete control over them (…) You can be a typesetter, designer, writer, illustrator, photographer and in a sense printer as well.’ Kisman, ibid., 28.

23. Licko and VanderLans, ibid., 1. Emigre #11’s credits detail this realisation: ‘Design and production: Rudy VanderLans… Emigre #11 was designed and produced on a Macintosh Plus using ReadySetGo for page layouts. All typefaces were originally designed for Emigre magazine by Zuzana Licko using Fontographer.… X-tra special thanks: Apple Computer, Inc., Bitstream Inc., Letraset USA, Optronics, Lompa Printing (…),’ etc. Ibid. In a recent email, underlining the hybrid nature of the issue’s production, VanderLans evoked the technical conditions of its transitional moment: ‘Emigre #11, even though it talks a great deal about producing design on the Mac, has its feet grounded firmly in both the new and old technology. The type and typography was all digital, but we were still printing the galleys out through a phototypesetter and pasting them down with rubber cement onto big flats. The images were all shot as traditional halftones and stripped into the negative films. It was a slow and gradual transition from manual paste-up to full computerization. It wasn’t until around 1996 that we did our first issue where layouts and prepress, including images, was done entirely digitally.’ Rudy VanderLans, Email correspondence (April 10, 2016).

24. It could be argued that the cult of the designer-auteur arose in the 1990s partly as a response to the perception of a threat to the professional value of designers’ expertise posed by widespread access to digital tools. Emigre #11: Ambition/Fear addressed this concern, but VanderLans’ questions about this subject rarely seemed to provoke much anxiety. On graphic design’s misapprehensions of French theory, see Andrew Blauvelt, “Desperately Seeking David, or Reading Ray Gun, Obliquely,” Emigre #38: The Authentic Issue (1996): 59–64.

25. Apeloig, Emigre #11, 14. Keedy mentioned digital typesetting as an example of a task that enfolds other roles, which can lead to a deeper impact for graphic design: ‘[I]f you get your copy from your client and it’s on disk, you will basically be doing the typesetter’s job,’ which will require checking spelling, he explained. ‘Now, with the computer, you’re frequently asked to act as an editor. To me that’s very interesting, because that is what design is about; it’s about information (…). [W]ith this tool, it is more likely that you will substantially edit the text, which pulls you further back into the conceptual realm of the project and not just the finishing of it.’ Keedy, ibid., 4.

26. VanderLans recalled, ‘[W]e were exploring this new design tool that no one had used before. So I had this insatiable curiosity about what was going on. I wasn’t a detached or objective journalist looking from the outside in. I was using this new machine myself, and I was deeply involved in it, trying to figure out how to best use it, and I was having a conversation with fellow designers to share experiences.’ VanderLans, Email.

27. Licko and VanderLans, Emigre #11, 1. In particular, it is graphic designers’ involvement in typesetting that brings fundamentals to the surface. Thus, VanderLans’ reiteration of this premise to Gerard Hadders and Rick Vermeulen concerns ‘the basics of typography’. VanderLans, ibid., 12.

28. While Licko and VanderLans were careful in their introduction to qualify the visual distinction of digital form as resulting from its unfamiliarity, and thus to locate its character in the perception of an aesthetic rather than in an essential quality, this qualification was lost in the interviews themselves. Thus, whereas they declared at the outset, ‘There is nothing intrinsically “computer-like” about digitally generated images,’ VanderLans’ questions aimed at the expression of a digital character: ‘Do you think it is possible to create an aesthetic that is based on the restrictions of a technology, with inherent qualities of the technology remaining visible, while maintaining individual style?’ he asked Glenn Suokko. His questions to Jeffery Keedy represented variations on a common theme: ‘Do you think the Macintosh will contribute to a new design language? How about the Macintosh’s inherent look, low resolution? Will this be part of its contribution to a new design language?’ Licko and VanderLans, ibid., 1; VanderLans, ibid., 11, 4, 5.

29. April Greiman’s technoformalist statement that ‘[t]here is a natural language in that machine and I am interested in finding out what that is’ arguably aligns with modernist elements of her education. Rick Valicenti’s response, on the other hand, to VanderLans’ question regarding the possibility of digital type styles and more traditional forms ‘living next to each other’ expressed a postmodern pluralism. Whereas Jan Tschichold, in The New Typography, ruled out such a coexistence — ‘it is impossible for both the old and the new typography to continue to exist together’ — and Licko and VanderLans concluded in their introduction that ‘[c]reating a graphic language with today’s tools will mean forgetting the styles of archaic technologies,’ Valicenti displayed a sense of inventory, pastiche and allegory where type style is concerned: ‘[W]e should all be free to eat from the buffet (…) it’s the fusion, those hybrids that we create, that makes the statement of the designer much more appealing and richer.’ Malcolm Garrett believed it was this very multiplication of references that the Macintosh brought, specifically and inherently, to the table. What intrigued him is ‘the ever-increasing ability that we have to draw on visual references from many different cultural sources and combine them in a hitherto unseen manner. I call this “Retrievalism”.’ Greiman, ibid., 9; Jan Tschichold, The New Typography, trans. Ruari McLean (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997), 13; Licko and VanderLans, Emigre #11, 1; Valicenti, ibid., 31; Garrett, ibid., 24.

30. Tschichold, The New Typography, 11; VanderLans, Emigre #11, 4, 8, 10, 24, 32.

31. Ibid.

32. Henri de Saint-Simon, as quoted by Charles Jencks, What Is Post-Modernism? (London: Academy Editions, 1996), 24.

33. William Morris, “The Arts and Crafts of To-Day,” accessed 10 April, 2016.

34. Valicenti, Emigre #11, 5. The emphasis Valicenti placed on the artistic nature of design’s true practice may in part be a reaction to the perceived threat posed by the Macintosh’s spread of graphic design tools to non-designers. Thus, he stated his belief that ‘imagination, along with commitment to a personal vision separates the practitioner from the artist. Technicians will be exposed as only technicians.’ This elevation of the personal over the technical stands in contrast to Tschichold’s collectivist and functionalist model, according to which the personality of the designer would disappear into the mass aptitude of a formal solution. In fact, it could be argued, Valicenti’s ideal marked a late-twentieth century revival of a romantic vision to which The New Typography sought to put an end. Valicenti, ibid., 31; Tschichold, The New Typography, 11.

35. Keedy, Emigre #11, 6.

36. Ellen Lupton, “Design and Production in the Mechanical Age,” in Graphic Design in the Mechanical Age: Selections from the Merrill C. Berman Collection, ed. Deborah Rothschild, Ellen Lupton and Darra Goldstein (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998), 51–52.

37. Licko and VanderLans, Emigre #11, 1; VanderLans and Valicenti, ibid., 5; VanderLans and Keedy, ibid., 5. Versions of this question occurred in several other interviews. See Emigre #11, 8, 11, 12, 22, 24, 30, 32, etc. Bitmaps are made up of bits that correspond to pixels or dots on a grid. Bitmaps initially served as the format for storage, display and output of digital type. With the arrival of vector fonts in the PostScript format, bitmap type in print was, by the mid-1980s, on its way from being a necessity to being a stylised reference. With increases in resolution, the bitmapping of letterforms would gradually shrink from view on screen. Asked recently which of his interview questions in Emigre #11 may have declined in relevance, VanderLans responded: ‘The questions that seem less relevant now are perhaps the ones about whether low resolution bitmap graphics would have any lasting impact. But reading that now, I realize how much I still like some of the very early issues, the ones where we first started to employ our low resolution typefaces, like Emigre #3, or Emigre #4. We spent so much time making our own fonts and trying to get them to print properly, and then pasting down the galleys. It was all tremendously work intensive. And I look at it now and it’s obvious when this work was created. It’s tied to a very narrow time period — just after the introduction of the Macintosh and just before Postscript — when everything was bitmap because that’s the only thing you could do on a Mac. It was a very brief period when almost our entire magazine was made with bitmapped fonts. It turned a lot of heads and raised a lot of eyebrows, and our early reputation was largely built on that. But in the larger picture, I don’t think it had any lasting aesthetic influence on what came later.’ VanderLans, Email.

38. Keedy, Emigre #11, 5.

39. VanderLans’ interviews with Valicenti and Weber are revealing in this regard. The qualities of Valicenti’s work that VanderLans likened to Macintosh typography — ‘so intricate, with so many type variations and type sizes within a single text block’ — he also associated with ‘a resurgence of experimental typography.’ He saw Weber’s Telezign booklet in a similar light: ‘you have interpreted the text in a very specific way. Sentences and words are arranged to emphasize meaning. This makes the text very visual and resembles the typography of the Futurists. Did this approach come out of your use of the Macintosh?’ VanderLans, ibid., 4, 31.

40. VanderLans clearly stated this interest to the Rotterdam-based designers of Hard Werken: ‘I think that low resolution and the acceptance of the bitmap is really the road to a new design aesthetic.’ However, for Gerard Hadders, ‘showing the low resolution bitmaps of the Macintosh, that’s (…) a trick, a gimmick.’ For many others, the visible bitmap was considered a passing phase. Suokko expressed a common expectation that ‘low resolution will eventually disappear, and with it so will that strong look.’ VanderLans, ibid., 11; Hadders, ibid., 2; Suokko, ibid., 11.

41. VanderLans, ibid., 22; Carter, ibid. ‘On the one hand,’ Carter maintains, ‘past changes in typographic technology — to mechanical, to photographic, to digital — have had a negligible effect on Latin type design.’ Shifts in who is working with type, on the other hand, can lead to changes in stylistic standards: ‘A break in professional continuity can have unexpected results. Look at the impact of the invention of dry transfer lettering on the spacing of type.’ For Carter, the influence of amateurs’ overly close setting of letters on professional practice shows how a stylistic dialect can sometimes cause norms to change. In any case, a ‘critical mass’ of ‘devotees of page layout programs, word processing software, and Fontographer’ is, in his view, having an effect. ‘The sense of what is sacred and what is profane about typography is under pressure, if nothing else,’ he says. Ibid.

42. VanderLans, ibid., 22. Carter, ibid.

43. VanderLans, Emigre #11, 22. Carter, ibid.

44. Carter, ibid.

45. Lorraine Wild, “That Was Then and This is Now, But What is Next?”, Emigre #39: The Next Big Thing (1996): 30. Michael Shea still found this weakness in 1998, observing in the “Readers Respond” section of Emigre #46, ‘how often users/readers are absent from the critical picture (…) There seems to be an inordinate focus on form.’ Michael Shea, Emigre #46: Fanzines and the Culture of DIY (1998): 3.

46. Spiekermann, Emigre #11, 12.

47. Similarly, regarding Mok’s work on early MacPaint and MacWrite interfaces, VanderLans asked, ‘Those first screen layouts became a stan-dard for many software programs that followed. Did you realize you were creating a solution that would be copied for years to come?’ ‘No, we had no idea,’ Mok answered. VanderLans and Clement Mok, Emigre #11, 27, 30.

48., accessed April 12, 2016.

49. VanderLans asked many of his subjects whether they believed that easy access to digital tools, the ‘so-called desktop revolution,’ would endanger their profession. See Emigre #11, 11, 15, 25, 32, etc. Asked about omissions in his framing of the subject “Graphic Designers and the Macintosh Computer” stemming from a lack of foresight regarding the social development of the Internet, he responded: ‘When we published Emigre #11 in 1989, the internet was not yet what it is today. It was just a blip on the radar. At that time we were already selling our fonts by copying them onto floppy disks, and shipping by FedEx. It was very labor intensive. And then, when the internet came along, we couldn’t believe our luck. We had a successful digital product, our typefaces, that we could now sell online. It did away with a lot of manual work. We did not see that coming. So in terms of the evolution of Emigre, the computer had an impact on how we designed, but perhaps in hindsight, and much more significantly, it became central to how we operated as a business. These issues are not at all discussed in #11.’ VanderLans, Email.

50.Suddenly,’ writes Lorraine Wild in 1996, ‘interactivity and the design of interfaces, the connection between information and users, demands thought in terms that range from the industrial understanding of human factors to the theatrical culture of entertainment’ (italics mine). “That Was Then,” 27.

51. VanderLans, Emigre #11, 22; Carter, ibid.

52. Keedy, ibid., 4.

53. Greiman, ibid., 9. Greiman’s openness to outside influences on her profession was exceptional. When VanderLans asked her, ‘How do you feel about that? When everyone can try to be a graphic designer…? The tool is there and it’s affordable. Will this lead towards a deterioration of graphic design?’, she made a generous and clear-sighted counter-argument: “No, I think it’s going to be terribly wonderful. I think that we as designers are going to learn a lot. We’re going to see people empowered with our visual language imitate us (a language that we have spent a lot of time learning and developing). We’ll see them do everything from really terrible to very wonderful things and it will be a good learning experience for us.’ Greiman’s sense that designers would learn from amateurs echoed Carter’s crediting of vernacular typeface design and typography for their stimulation of professionals. However, Greiman’s vision extends further, joining more recent interest by graphic designers in, for example, crowd-sourced design. Others interviewed in Emigre #11 pointed towards an inverse effect of digital media: a raising of general awareness about the role of design. To the question, ‘Do you think that the Macintosh as a popular and powerful graphic design tool contributes in any way to a degradation of graphic design standards?’ Malcolm Garrett took the opposite view: ‘With Macintosh computers in more and more offices, there is a growing understanding of what we do’ (among people who had not previously noticed type, for example). ‘[C]ompanies make more allowances for the role of design in their businesses. They now build it into their scheduling at a much earlier stage (…) So in that respect, the Macintosh is having a very positive effect on the design profession.’ VanderLans and Greiman, ibid., 10; VanderLans and Garrett, ibid., 25.

54. Suokko, ibid., 10; Garrett, ibid., 24. ‘[T]he information communication aspect of the book is finished,’ Garrett declared. ‘And what do you see as the alternative?’, asked VanderLans. ‘It will all be electronic,’ Garret replied. VanderLans and Garret, ibid.

55. Wild, “That Was Then,” 32; Kenneth FitzGerald, “The Angel Is My Floating-point!”, Emigre #39: The Next Big Thing (1996): 35, 43, 44; Carl Francis DiSalvo, “Towards an Aesthetics of Intellectual Discourse”, ibid., 77.

56. ‘By intertextual I mean the connections made among the interviews, particularly as they are intermingled throughout the issue.’ Andrew Blauvelt, “Digressions and Transgressions: Emigre (The Texts),” accessed April 12, 2016. The design of Emigre #11, as Emigre’s website explains, was ‘[i]nspired by Warren Lehrer’s book French Fries, in which the designer used a different typeface for each character in the book (…). The various interviews run alongside each other, creating a notion of everybody speaking at once emphasizing the urgency and excitement felt by the designers.’ “Emigre Back Issues,” accessed April 12, 2016.

57. VanderLans, Emigre #26, 1.

58. Rudy VanderLans, “Radical Commodities,” Emigre #34: Rebirth of Design (1995): 9.

59. VanderLans, “Graphic Design and the Next Big Thing,” Emigre #39: The Next Big Thing (1996): 10; VanderLans, “Radical Commodities,” 13, quoting Robin Kinross, Fellow Readers: Notes on Multiplied Language (London: Hyphen Press, 1994), 24.

60. VanderLans, “Radical Commodities,” 23. This characterisation of Licko’s early bitmap typeface designs as functionally oriented is aligned with Kinross’s desire for typeface designs that were ‘connected to a context of human need and use,’ to which VanderLans referred earlier. Ibid., 21, quoting Robin Kinross, Modern Typography (London: Hyphen Press, 1992), 140.

61. Charles Jencks described the ‘post-modern agenda’ similarly, as ‘an intense concern for pluralism and respect for local cultures (…) an acknowledgement of difference and otherness (…) the continuation of the modern project of social emancipation with the agenda of multiculturalism as an equal, if opposite logic.’ Jencks, What Is Post-Modernism?, 77.

62. Emigre #34 exemplified the density with which competing and complementary ideas were packed into the journal. In addition to VanderLans’ reference cited above, for example, at least three other responses were made in the issue to Robin Kinross’s calls for typographic humility and transparency. See Jeffery Keedy, “Zombie Modernism,” Emigre #34: Rebirth of Design (1995): 25; Andrew Blauvelt’s “The Dynamics of Inscription,” ibid., 39; and Anne Burdick and Louise Sandhaus’ “Know Questions Asked,” ibid., 53–62. In the same issue, Matt Owens’s “From Technology to Commodity. Where Do We Go from Here?” introduced the terms and concerns of cultural studies to the discussion. Ibid, 4–16. As its title indicated, Matt Owens’ contribution to Emigre #34 also picked up on #11’s topic of technological change and its implications for graphic design.

63. Andrew Blauvelt, “Unfolding Information,” Emigre #40: The Info Perplex (1996): 19; Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 2000), 77; Blauvelt, ibid., 20.

64. Ibid., 26. This call cited the writing of Ella Shohat and Robert Stam.

65. Rudy VanderLans, “Graphic Design and the Next Big Thing,” 10–11. As further proof of VanderLans’ open-door editorial policy, an article by Frances Butler was published in the next issue of Emigre, guest-edited by Blauvelt.

66. Rudy VanderLans, “Introduction,” Emigre #48: Untitled II (1998): 15–16.

67. Ibid. In “Graphic Design and the Next Big Thing,” VanderLans had written of the Web, ‘If there were ever an opportunity for graphic design to become more involved with content, the World Wide Web is it.’ VanderLans, Emigre #39, 8. In “Radical Commodities” he looks back to the arrival of the Macintosh computer through a similar lens: “[I]n 1984, graphic design… was handed a tool that would make it possible for individual designers to become self-sufficient.” VanderLans, Emigre #34, 7, 9.

68. VanderLans, “Radical Commodities,” 9, 13, 30.

69. Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans, Emigre #11, 1. Licko and VanderLans also foresaw some of the perils of Internet culture: ‘There is already a growth in the birthrate of small circulation magazines and journals. Although this increases diversity and subsequently the chances of tailoring the product to the consumer, we can only hope that such abundance will not obliterate our choices by overwhelming us with options. Computers are phenomenally adept at storing information, but the current rate of its amassment is making a frightening task out of distilling knowledge from these huge data banks. Raw information becomes meaningful only when we can access it in a comprehensive manner.’ Ibid.

70. Rudy VanderLans, “Introduction,” Emigre #46: Fanzines and the Culture of DIY (1998): 3–4.

71. VanderLans, “Graphic Design and the Next Big Thing,” 9.

72. This is the opposition that sets Keedy, Burdick, and Sandhaus against Kinross’s Fellow Readers argument in Emigre #34. In many ways, VanderLans’ concern that typographic convention provided an unencumbered basis for individual critical reception and social consideration of a text shared the Enlightenment ideals of Kinross’s position.

73. VanderLans, “Graphic Design and the Next Big Thing,” 9. VanderLans named Katherine McCoy, Jeffery Keedy, Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller as ‘key protagonists and apologists for the new theories that have inspired recent design’ but notes that their own work only applies these theories to a ‘minimal degree’. Ibid.

74.For a quick overview of Emigre’s design, use the arrow keys to scroll through the ‘back issues’ section of the Emigre website:

75. Rudy VanderLans, “Introduction,” Emigre #47: Relocating Design (1998): 5.

76. Ibid, 5–6; Alan Marshall, “Decay and Renewal in Typeface Markets: Variations on a Typographical Theme,” Emigre #42: The Mercantile Issue (1997): 24–25, 27. Morison’s treatise furnished VanderLans with a distinction between display and reading matter where the permissibility of “typographic eccentricity” is concerned. VanderLans, Emigre #47, 6. Stanley Morison, First Principles of Typography (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1936), 1–2. Morison’s core premise of authorial meaning as a truth not to be falsified or demeaned by any typographic treatment that calls attention to itself is aligned with VanderLans’ terms here as neatly as it opposes those of Burdick and Sandhaus in “Know Questions Asked.” Emigre #34, 53–62.

77. Morison wrote that, insofar as printing multiplies a text, typography must be ‘good for a common purpose. The wider that purpose, the stricter are the limitations imposed upon the printer.’ Morison, First Principles, 2. Burdick and Sandhaus argued that the typographic page as a social space ‘is a construction site of power struggles.’ For them, the implications of typography’s participation in the staging of this contested space were critical: ‘Form-giving shapes public presence, can veil stakes and motives, hiding the constructedness of our shared world.’ Burdick and Sandhaus, Emigre #34, 62.

78. Morison, First Principles, 5. Zuzana Licko, interview, Emigre #15: Do You Read Me? (1990):12–13.

79. Gérard Mermoz, “On Typographic Reference (Part 1),” Emigre #36: Mouthpiece 2 (1995): unpaginated. Mermoz called for ‘research in graphic design, to map out multidisciplinary ground and to develop deeper links between typographic studies and those disciplines that have a bearing on the relations between language and its graphic manifestations.’ Ibid. For other examples of critical analyses of typography’s social agency in Emigre #36, see Stuart McKee, “The Social Space of the Page” and Felix Janssens, “A Few Principles of Typography,” ibid.

80. While page six contains a tongue-in-cheek pitch by Marlene Stikker, exposing the economics of e-mail marketing, Rutta D.D.’s maxim on page seven reads, “Multiplication of text is a social act.” Emigre #58: Everyone is a Designer: Manifest for the Design Economy (2001): 6–7. ‘Let the designers come up with their questions for content,’ reads a proposition on page 48. Ibid. ‘In the interactive world, “make a choice” is the new meaning of make a design’ reads a verdict on page 49. Ibid.

81. Unattributed, Emigre #58, inside front cover. The warning continues: ‘Managers are dictating the parameters of future design by embedding innovative design in interactive, customized business environments to maximize usability for millions of consumers.’ Ibid.

82. Unattributed, Emigre #58, inside front jacket. This survey both uses and appropriates a marketing format. After several standard questions about the quality of Emigre products and the value of the magazine’s content, the ninth through twelfth questions ask socially and environmentally oriented questions, including ‘Do you think designers can be socially responsible in their work?’ The questionnaire concludes with demographic questions typical of a marketing survey.

83. Max Kisman, Emigre #58, 20.

84. Rudy VanderLans, “A Synthesis of Bitmap Fonts,” Emigre #59: Economy of Means (2001): unpaginated section.

85. Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton, “Introduction,” Graphic Design: Now in Production, 9; Blauvelt, “Tool,” 26.

86. Blauvelt, ibid. By issue #17, readers’ letters were printed in Emigre. In issue #35 the “Mail” section of the magazine was renamed “Readers Respond.” In issue #47, for example, a former letter-writer, Michael Shea, was interviewed in the magazine’s main pages. Emigre Magazine Index, accessed April 12, 2016.

87. Blauvelt, Blauvelt, “Tool,” 28, 26.