The major worldwide association for people interested in fonts and typography.
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.
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
2009: Mexico City
2008: St Petersburg
1997: Reading, UK
1996: The Hague
1994: San Francisco
1990: Oxford, UK
1987: New York
1964: Cambridge, UK
Since 2001, there has been an active members’ e-mail list, where weighty and trivial typographic matters are discussed.
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.
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.