On March 17th The International Printing Museum hosted the Los Angeles screening of Linotype: The Film. I was tasked with creating the communication, advertisement, branding and design for the event and also to curate an exhibit for the Linotype. You can view the promotional website I created for the event at www.linotypefilmla.com
I first became aware of Linotype: The Film through Kickstarter where I helped to back and consequently promote the fundraiser. I had a huge amount of respect for what Doug Wilson, Brandon Goodwin and Jess Heugel were doing and began following their work. My admiration for the project led me to keep close tabs on their progress so when Doug set to work looking for venues to screen the film I was anxious to help bring the screening to Los Angeles.
Through discussion with Mark Barbour, Director of The International Printing Museum, and Doug Wilson we concluded that the best way to create a unique and inspiring event would be to do the screening at the museum and run it alongside running Linotype Machines and an exhibit.
A typical trip to the museum will introduce the visitor to the Linotype where they can see the machine in operation but the artifacts that tell the whole story of the Linotype and its impact on the world largely remain unseen. The Linotype was more than just a machine, it was a revolution in the way that we could produce printed material and the speed at which we could do so. What people often don’t get to see are the by-products of the Linotype.
The Exhibit was split into three main categories: operations, promotional material and specimens. The physical artifacts that the Linotype has left behind mean different things to different people and will be consumed and appreciated as such.
For the engineers there are operators manuals, repair manuals and parts catalogs which are all beautifully illustrated with extremely detailed mechanical drawings. Those with an interest in advertising can see how the company promoted their machines and how the brand, identity and the message changed, or didn’t change, through the 20th Century. Graphic Designers and Typographers will enjoy goliath textbooks of type specimens ornamentation and borders as well as single books crafted to show off an individual typeface. The typefaces in the Linotype type library are the artwork of some of the most famous typeface designers of the 20th Century.
The International Printing Museum has never been a “look, don’t touch” kind of museum. Although some of the material on display was simply too delicate to allow people to thumb through we were able to have a large amount of the artifacts out on browsing tables or available for careful supervised viewing. For those with a penchant for handling the exhibit had less rare books to look through, a Linotype practice keyboard that guests could try their hand at, as well as many small pieces and parts of the machine to pick up and take a closer look at.
From the first newspaper set using a Linotype in 1886 through California’s last papers set on the machines in 2003 Mergenthaler’s Linotype Company left behind a vast vernacular of ephemera. While it would be nearly impossible to display everything the company has left behind the Linotype Exhibit will give the viewer concise information and displays many of the companies pivotal changes in its mechanics, design and business.