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The major worldwide association for people interested in fonts and typography.

Introduction to ATypI

The Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) is a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to type and typography. It was founded in 1957 by Charles Peignot.

Members are type designers, graphic designers, typographers, publishers, font distributors, font technicians, and engineers who work for large software companies wishing to update the typographic community about upcoming technologies. The President since 2006 has been John D. Berry.

ATypI conferences

Annual conferences take place in cities around the world, where members enjoy meeting, attending lectures, seminars and workshops — and eating out. The venues have been and will be:

2012: Hong Kong
2011: Reykjavík
2010: Dublin
2009: Mexico City
2008: St Petersburg
2007: Brighton
2006: Lisbon
2005: Helsinki
2004: Prague
2003: Vancouver
2002: Rome
2001: Copenhagen
2000: Leipzig
1999: Boston
1998: Lyon
1997: Reading, UK
1996: The Hague
1995: Barcelona
1994: San Francisco
1993: Antwerp
1992: Budapest
1991: Parma
1990: Oxford, UK
1989: Paris
1988: Frankfurt
1987: New York
1986: Basel
1985: Kiel
1984: London
1983: Berlin
1982: Beaune
1981: Mainz
1980: Basel
1979: Vienna
1978: Munich
1977: Lausanne
1976: Hamburg
1975: Warsaw
1974: Paris
1973: Copenhagen
1972: Barcelona
1971: London
1970: Bruges
1969: Prague
1968: Frankfurt
1967: Paris
1966: Mainz
1965: Zurich
1964: Cambridge, UK
1963: Vienna
1962: Verona
1961: Zandvoort
1960: Paris
1959: Paris
1958: Dusseldorf
1957: Lausanne

Mailing list

Since 2001, there has been an active members’ e-mail list, where weighty and trivial typographic matters are discussed.

Publications, competitions and awards

Occasional publications have been well received by members, notably the book Language, Culture, Type, edited by John D. Berry (ATypI/Graphis 2002, ISBN 1932026010). Occasional awards are also given: the bukva:raz! competition (2001) commended 100 recent type designs, and specimens of the winning typefaces were published in the aforementioned book. Judges in the Letter.2 competition (2011) awarded prizes to 53 entries out of 561 submissions. A regular award, known as the Prix Charles Peignot in honor of the ATypI founder, is given every four years to a designer under the age of 35 who has made an outstanding contribution to type design.

Evolution of ATypI

Over the years the association has adapted to the changing needs of the world’s typeface suppliers, now a markedly different group of people from when ATypI was founded.

At the time of the association’s founding in the 1950s, and continuing through to the 1980s, a range of distinctive and serviceable typefaces was part of the added value that a manufacturer of costly printing equipment would offer a client. Crucially, typefaces purchased for one piece of machinery would not function on any other. Furthermore, the types deteriorated over time, meaning a physical limit on the life of any font. This was the business model that ATypI sought to protect, while not discouraging scholarly debate within its circles.

In its early years ATypI was “essentially a typefounders’ club”, according to Matthew Carter. A member since 1963, Carter’s own career demonstrates what was happening in the font business: a senior designer at Mergenthaler-Linotype in the 1970s, founder of Bitstream in the early 1980s, and in recent years owner of type design studio Carter & Cone. In the mid-1960s ATypI was dominated by the German foundries, and run by a small Management Committee that met three or four times a year. Carter notes: “Designers had no voice until the formation of the Committee of Type Designers and Typographers in 1965. It was chaired by Hermann Zapf until 1971, by Adrian Frutiger until 1977, and by me until it petered out circa 1991. The meeting in 1967 at UNESCO in Paris was a breakthrough — ATypI’s first real conference with invited speakers, organized by John Dreyfus. Gastronomically, Beaune in 1982 was outstanding.”

In the 21st century, it seems quaint to think that a designer’s choice of typefaces might be technically limited by her choice of office printer, her choice of output bureau, or the publication she works with. Digital fonts that work on essentially any output device have been commonplace for over a decade. Therefore, the typographic aspects of printing are much more in the hands of type designers (the new manufacturers) and typographers (the new buyers) than ever before. It is towards these parties that ATypI has moved, still encouraging discussion about type history, new directions in type design, multilingual typography, font display technology on new devices and so on, while largely abandoning the “solved problems” of getting ink onto paper and selling printing machines. These are left to the specialized engineers and marketeers who, for their part, need know nothing of typography.

The Presidents of ATypI have been, in order, Charles Peignot, John Dreyfus, Tage Bolander, Martin Fehle, Ernst-Erich Marhencke, Mark Batty, Jean François Porchez, and John D. Berry.

External links