Frank E. Blokland

Letterstudio (Elective)

Frank E. Blokland (Leiden, 1959) is a type designer (of DTL Documenta [Sans], DTL Haarlemmer [Sans], and DTL VandenKeere, among others), Senior Lecturer in type design at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague since 1987, and Senior Lecturer at the Plantin Institute of Typography, Antwerp, since 1995. He is co-organizer of the Typography Summer School at the University of Antwerp and guest curator of the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp.

Blokland founded the Dutch Type Library in 1990 and a couple of years later he initiated and supervised the still ongoing development of the DTL tools for professional font production.

In October 2016 he successfully defended his PhD dissertation at Leiden University, which was the outcome of a research conducted to test the hypothesis that the German inventor of movable Latin type Johannes Gutenberg (c.1400–1468) and his colleagues developed a highly standardized system for creating textura foundry type. In addition, this system was adapted for the production of roman type in Renaissance Italy.

For this purpose, the humanistic handwriting was cast in predetermined proportions, arising from an intrinsic systematization in the written source models. This research aimed to demonstrate that technical aspects of Renaissance type production had a direct influence on the proportions of textura, roman, and ultimately italic type, and thus to the related conditioning that forms the basis of the perception of typographers and readers. Not only has this research provided greater insight into the origins of Latin type, but the results can also be used for a more consistently organized digital-font production, and for the parameterization of type-design processes.

It provided the basis for software for applying customizable frameworks based on the patterns derived from the archetypal Renaissance type models. Some of these tools can, for example, be used to replace optical spacing completely or they can be applied additionally to spacing by eye. See also:

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