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ABOUT







Gerrit Noordzij

Gerrit Noordzij (b. 1931, Rotterdam) is a Dutch graphic designer, typeface designer, author, teacher, calligrapher, and design artist who made drawings, wood and copper engravings, and postage stamps. From 1960 until 1990 he taught writing and type design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. One of his many students there was Lucas de Groot. Noordzij has worked as graphic designer for various Dutch publishers. Since 1978 he has been the house designer for the publishing company Van Oorschot. His intellectual influence is matched by his physical heritage, in the form of two talented sons in the field of type design, Christoph and Peter Matthias. The Gerrit Noordzij Prize, a prize given to typographers and type designers for extraordinary contributions to the field, is named after him. He was also the first person to receive this prize in 1996. In 2013, Gerrit Noordzij reveived the TDC Medal at the ATypI in Amsterdam.

The influence he had on Dutch type design is based on a theoretical system he called The stroke of the pen, and his position as the main teacher of type design in the country for three decades. Books on his system include The stroke of the pen: fundamental aspects of western writing (1982), and De Streek: Theorie van het schrift (1985) (translated by Peter Enneson in 2005 at Hyphen Press in London: The Stroke: Theory of Writing). His point in his oeuvre is that letterforms are rooted in handwriting.

Other publications: Letterletter (Vancouver, Hartley&Marks Publishers, 2000), De Staart van de Kat (1988,GHM, Leersum), De Handen van de Zeven Zusters (with Willem Dijkhuis: Van Oorschot, Amsterdam, 2001), Das Kind und die Schrift (Typographische Gesellschaft, München, 1985).

His typefaces:

  • Gerrit designed what some consider the perfect font, Ruit, but it is nowhere to be had.
  • Dutch Roman (1980).
  • Batavian (1980).
  • Remer.
  • Ruse: a huge text family that started out based on Gerrit's own handwriting, published at TEFF, or The Enschedé Font Foundry. He writes: From 000 to 100 the family is divided into 11 variants of increasing contrast. Each variant contains four different kinds of figures (supplied in four font layouts - HgTb, HgTx, LnTb and LnTx) and a special version for ligatures (Lig). HgTb is a version that has old style figures with identical widths, HgTx has old style figures with individual widths, LnTb has lining figures with identical widths and LnTx has lining figures with individual widths. Any typesetting job for figures, whether it be in tables or plain text, can be carried out easily with Ruse. Each variant is available in roman, italic and small capitals. The complete family consists of 154 fonts.
  • The bastarda typeface Burgundica (1983, TEFF). He writes: The design of Burgundica emerged from analyzing the elongated version of the Burgundian Bastarda appearing firstly in manuscripts from the calligraphic workshop of Jacquemart Pilavaine in Bergen (Hainaut) in 1450. The Burgundian bookproduction of the time owed much of its splendor to this elegant script. In Burgundica I followed the shapes of the Burgundian bastarda rather closely. Of course, there was no use for the shapes of the bastarda in the roman and italic fonts of Tret; instead I adapted the spatial proportions of the calligraphic pattern to the shapes of that typeface. (Note: Tret is to be released by TEFF, currently in production). In the last quarter of the 15th century the first bastarda typefaces were cut in Bruges. Many similar typefaces followed that were founded on the typefaces by such predecessors as Caxton, Mansion and Brito. Contrarily Burgundica has its origin in the script itself.

In 2013, Geen Bitter (Thom Janssen, Jorn Henkes and Rogier van der Sluis) copublished Gewone letters Gerrit's early models at Uitgeverij De Buitenkant, Amsterdam. The text has contributions by Albert-Jan Pool, Frank E. Blokland, Aad van Dommelen, Huug Schipper, and Petr van Blokland. The blurb: A couple of years back, while cleaning the letterpress workshop at the KABK in The Hague, we had an amazing find. A package that hasn't been opened for some time. We opened it and found eighteen printing plates in mint condition. The printing plates, we soon found out, were made by Gerrit Noordzij and date back to the late 1960s. They contain a brief lesson about writing with the broad nib and, once familiar with this basis, writing and drawing some different techniques. Since it seemed the plates are never published before, we decided to do so and made a book containing prints from the plates. Next to the plates we asked former students if they still had old work and sketches with comments by Gerrit Noordzij. The result is a collection of sketches and material, together with five writings about the plates, Gerrit Noordzij and his contribution to the field of type and typography.

Scan of a 1974 postage stamp by Noordzij. Klingspor link. Letterror link. Flickr group with Noordzij photographs. Interview by Robin Kinross, 2001. The Enschedé Font Foundry link. Video from 2014 by TYPO Berlin.

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file name: Geen Bitter Gewone Letters Gerrit Noordzij Aad Van Dommelen Pic by Albert Jan Pool 2013


file name: A Typ I 2013 Gerrit Noordzij Receives T D C Medal







Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html