Gothic Review

I've just stumbled across a summary of my talk from the Gothic Convention last May. It's interesting so see how my paper has been interpreted. The event was extremely fun and a pleasure to present. There are some great podcasts on the site, unfortunately they've linked to the wrong clip for me!


Sanserif – the Face of the Grotesque and the Gothic – David Osbaldestin

"David began his talk by defining the difference between Gothic typeface (script implemented in the Guttenberg Bible and characterised by exaggerated cursive stroke and black letter) and Sanserif, an unassuming typeface (compared to the flamboyant strokes of the Gothic) influenced by early British grotesque printing types. Ironically, despite the influence of Gothic typefaces in many parts of the world, Sanserif script was most often used in book typography, and thus usurped Gothic typefaces to become the de-facto font of choice for Gothic pieces. Despite this wide use of Sanserif script, twentieth-century typographic classification and the utilisation of traditional Gothic typefaces on the front covers of books reinforced the general misconception of Gothic typefaces. The Sanserif typeface also gained popularity in the world of advertising, and by the mid-nineteenth century, new Sanserif typefaces were being created, and were widely used by jobbing printers. Given its affinity with the values of certain movements, such as Industrialism and Romanticism, the Gothic Sanserif typography acts, as David so concisely puts it, as a ‘moral compass’, which is ‘simple, bold and uncomplicated.’ I, personally, found the talk rather refreshing and untypical of the genre. Often, this display of the Gothic is overlooked (perhaps because contemporary fonts are housed on computer software – technology which is worlds apart from the dungeons and castles of traditional Gothic lore!) and it was interesting to discover the origin and influence of what became one of the most prominent tools of advertising".


David Osbaldestin

David Osbaldestin is Deputy Course Director of Graphic Communication at Birmingham City University (BCU) and he has taught internationally for 15 years. Through his studies at Reading University, he has developed his research in Typographic and Printing History, and is currently a PhD researcher investigating the Sanserif in Britain. A practicing typographer and graphic designer, David manages the BCU live creative agency; a student led design studio and enterprise initiative. He has recently supervised a KTP and KEEN Supervisor facilitating two European research projects in Digital Brand Design funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the University of Wolverhampton. Recent papers: Birmingham’s nineteenth century printers and the use of the sanserif, The form of the book, Book History Research Network Study Day, BCU, Birmingham, December 2014. Sanserif; the face of profit, purity and power, Landmarks in Printing: from origins to the digital age, The Printing Historic Society, St Brides, London, November 2014.