Western Types § about
An illustration, lettering & typography show
in Calgary, Alberta
My name is Todd Macfie and I'm a graphic designer, writer and illustrator. I make things for print and for web; I write ad copy and articles; and I do a lot of drawing for clients and for my own projects. Having studied English literature in Lethbridge and Typography in Vancouver, I have a special fascination with letterforms and with words — with the stories we tell, and with the particular flavour the form of storytelling imparts on the story itself.
Nina Palmer (my wife and also a designer) and I moved from Vancouver to Calgary last spring. We moved here to see our families again, and because it seems that Calgary is on the verge of something — it's a city re-making its identity. You can see this in projects like the East Village, and you can feel it at events like the recent PechaKucha, and Mayor Nenshi's 3 Things for Calgary Campaign, which is awesome — you should participate!
A recent theme has developed in the international design scene (if I may call it that). This is a theme of taking old forms and technologies and using them in new and meaningful ways, usually by way of computers. Letterpress is an example of this: contemporary letterpress shops will often build files in Illustrator or inDesign, burn the art into photopolymer plates, and then put the plates on an antique printing machine.
This type of work is neither a nostalgic throw-back nor a violent reaction to our current technological reliance. Rather, it's a synthesis of technologies, old and new, that can create new forms and new meanings in our lives right now.
And that's the point of Western Types — to show western-style lettering and typography in a fresh and contemporary context.
Plus, working with your hands is fun. And so is drawing ornate westerny-looking letters.
Our outcomes for this project are as follows:
- booklet with essay on the history of western-looking letterforms, printed with mixed technologies: silk screen, letterpress, offset
- the show itself
- (hopefully) a lettering workshop — perhaps one for designers and one for people who've never properly drawn a letter before (it's worth it!)
Western Types will show some of the best verifiably old posters and showcards from early Calgary, and then move quickly on to contemporary work showcasing international art side-by-side with local artists and illustrators.
For a visual idea of the stuff I'm talking about, please take a look at our pinterest page.
And: participate! Sign up right here.