“If Desmond’s letterpress typography is worth making a fuss about (which he himself did not), it must be for both truthfulness of purpose and his vital, true eye for type and space. He picked up a 500 year-old technology in its very last working years, just before it vanished into antiquarianism, and put new life into it. At the time of his death he was looking for what might come next.”
So wrote Desmond Jeffery’s wife Sally in 2009 and we can think of no finer tribute to this letterpress and typography teacher who pushed the limits of hand-set type in the 1950s and 1960s.
A show opening next week at Bristol’s Spike Island will help spread the word about this little-known talent and hopefully help secure his position as a designer today’s practitioners know and appreciate. Desmond started off printing posters, invitations and menus on a Heidelburg Platen before going on to work with galleries, orchestras, architects and political groups who were queuing up for his innovative, eye-catching layouts.
With his wife Sally part of the curation team, the Spike Island show brings together some of his most important works and will seek to explain how and why Desmond became such a significant figure in the graphic design community.
Desmond Jeffery: Type and Space runs from October 20 to 28 as part of Spike Island’s Book and Zine Fair.
- Creative director David Lane tells us about redesigning frieze and creating campaigns for Hermés and Ally Capellino
- Photographer Zuza Krajewska's fragile portraits of Polish young offenders
- Anibal Bley’s Risograph zine experiments with glitchy patterns and illustrations
- CG Watkins’ narratively driven photography conveys mystery and escapism
- Sharp Type creates punchy typeface inspired by Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger
- Illustrator Susa Monteiro’s lonely figures battle the elements
- Grope Sans: a very rude typeface by Bompas & Parr
- Japanese graphic designer Ryu Mieno creates type-heavy works fizzing with energy
- The reductive and exacting work of graphic designer Laura Prim
- Why creative education for advertising is stuck in the dark ages
- Leipzig-based graphic designer Anja Kaiser takes us through her portfolio
- Nicolas Jaar releases Network, a book inspired by radio