Tag: writing sign board (page 1 of 2)

Trajan dominates the world of type

How Trajan Rose From The Grave To Become The New Helvetica


When it comes to fonts, Adobe’s Trajan is one of the most seen, but not necessarily the most known. The imperial, Roman-inspired typeface is used for everything from movie posters, book jackets, signage, corporate branding, labeling, even to sell condoms and lingerie. In fact, a few years ago, type historian James Mosley called Trajan the new Helvetica. But Trajan’s success story is a strange one spanning almost 2,000 years and involving Roman landmarks, Catholic priests, and, of course, Adobe employees.

Lettering detail R Original Features Hornsey London NGS signwriters

Taken from the first-century letterforms originally etched on Rome’s famous Trajan Column, the letters didn’t actually become a typeface until 1989, when they were digitally scanned and recreated by typographer Carol Twomby. But the whole story goes back decades, which is recounted on the blog of typography blog, former Adobe Director of Type Sumner Stone—the man responsible for authorizing the type.

An accomplished typographer himself—he created the ITC Stone typeface for Adobe—Stone’s history with Trajan Column-inspired typefaces actually extended back to his time as an undergraduate at Reed College.

catfish NGS

Stone talks about how he was able to watch Edward Catich, a Catholic priest from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, chisel Trajan letters into the scaffolding of the oldest building on campus. Before Adobe made a font out of it, it was Catich who had done more than anybody to pluck Trajan from 1st Century obscurity: in addition to making their study his life work, Catich had created a full-sized cast of the letters directly from the Trajan monument itself.

Sumner Stone and Carol Twombycourtesy Adobe

Soon, Stone became fascinated with Trajan. “Experiencing the Trajan letters engendered a kind of epiphany in many young calligraphers,” Stone recalls. “For us, it was a pinnacle of complexity and subtlety. Nobody knew who had invented them. Evidently it was some anonymous craftsman in the first century. And nobody in the contemporary calligraphy world beyond Catich, a few of his students, and a scattering of others could write them with a level of quality that approached the originals.”

A New age of graphic ID – dragging over the whisper

On the back of painting reams of letters over the past 3 years something new has to happen. It does.



It is not enough to simply claim to go further and add this and that as a jump up on the next competitor. That is not innovation – it is simply a jostling for a slither of note over the nearest competitor.

It is not about emulating what has gone by with new fad ridiculous over ornamentation.

For some it works.

For most it is an unoriginal pathway.

Originate please!





Innovation is at large in the few.

Truly emerging innovation is a felt glimmer being dragged across the horizon…



So what is the next true wave of inspiration likely to look like?

It has to first allow itself the divine right to exist as something entirely new.

This could be new by approach, feel, sensibility.



My own sense is that this is entirely linked to ones ability to find a sensuous magic in whatever is on the table for product development or ID.

The new approach owes much to empathy and pure product design.  It is mechanical yet open to any conceivable concept that exists.


It is not retro



I believe in …….


yes is the answer to everything in the universe.


It is like an alien sentient being or a slice of bread.







no not this

neither these

but it lies in there








Beyond this age of clamoring diversification the opportunity to reap great design whist slipping in and out of view

It is subtle










It has to strive to prove Zen to be nothing more than contrived shit – because it comes from the streets of London, Delhi and Venice and somewhere between. It comes from somewhere intensely real.






It doesn’t quite exist yet but it’s always been there.






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