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Minneapolis Hand Job

What is it with Minneapolis and hand-drawn typography? Something in the water? The new book Hand Job: A Catalog of Type by Mike Perry (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), is a fascinating 250-page tome in its own right, with clever, cute and sometimes bizarre examples of custom-penned letterforms by the likes of Kate “Obsessive Consumption” Bingaman […]

1568986262.jpgWhat is it with Minneapolis and hand-drawn typography? Something in the water?

The new book Hand Job: A Catalog of Type by Mike Perry (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), is a fascinating 250-page tome in its own right, with clever, cute and sometimes bizarre examples of custom-penned letterforms by the likes of Kate “Obsessive Consumption” Bingaman and design great Stefan Sagmeister.

But it also features a slew of artists and designers with local ties, including former Walker designers Andy Beach (onetime Off Center guest blogger who’s now an independent designer after working for years at Urban Outfitters) and Kindra Murphy (an associate professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design). Murphy’s samples include sketches for promotional materials she designed for Walker family programs.

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It also showcases the work of MCAD grads, including Adam Garcia (who I last saw at First Amendment Arts‘ show with six-year-old Cohen Morano), Emily C.M. Anderson, J. Zachary Keenan, Jeff Lai, Sparky Hardisty, Patrick Miller, Travis “Mint Condition” Stearns, and Sam Sherman. Even the non-hand-drawn typefaces in the book have Walker connections: Eric Olson of Minneapolis-based Process Type Foundry created Bryant, one of the fonts the book’s body text is set in. A U of M grad and former Walker designer, he helped create the Walker’s identity system.

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So is Minneapolis a mecca of hand-drawn type? Is there a cabal of custom typemakers here, a hand-job underground railroad? Both, says author Mike Perry. He went to MCAD, studied under Kindra Murphy there, is friends with Olson, and tried, unsuccessfully, to get a Walker design job — which put him in touch with other designers.

“I applied for the Walker internship and [design director] Andrew Blauvelt wrote in my rejection letter that I should get in contact with Andy [Beach] at Urban,” he wrote in an email. “So I did and six months later I got hired at Urban Outfitters where I got to know Andy and Erin [Mulcahy, Beach's wife and a former Walker design fellow]. I worked at Urban for 3 years.”

Artwork: Typography by Paul Clark (top), Andy Beach, Dan Funderburgh (middle), sketches by Kindra Murphy (below)

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  • I went to school with Mike. He’s doing a lecture at MCAD in a month.

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