TypograFriday: Shahn

shahn_1963cover2

One of my favorite artists ever is Ben Shahn; his linework was terrific, his color sense really interesting, his sociopolitics inspirational, and his handlettering fantastic.

Above and below, a few scans from the book November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three, a Wendell Berry poem about JFK’s death which he illustrated and lettered. I’ve tried lettering with jaunty mixes of thicks and thins like this before, and let me tell you, it’s super tough to keep it from not looking totally goofy. That he set type as serious as a poem about national grieving using it is astonishing.

shahn1963_page

shahn1963_page1

A few other of his pieces which incorporate his fantastic lettering:

shahn_farmsale

Public Sale, 1956

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Parade for Repeal, 1933

shahn_mai

Maimonides, 1954

Teach thy tongue to say I do not know and thou shalt progress? Such a good quote.

benfolk

For those of you who are font-hungry, there are (at least) two fonts on the market which are based on Shahn’s lettering: Bensfolk from Haroldsfonts and thorny tuscan Rendevous GRP from Grype. Although both are pretty nice, the supersmart Opentype version with dozens of smart contextual alternates that rotate in… is sadly yet to be made. You’ll just have to use a pen, folks.

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