Kickstart this! Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970, typographic designs and letterforms
A Kickstarter campaign is currently underway to help raise money for the publication of an English version of the book “Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970” dedicated to one of the most significant Czech typographers.
Jaroslav Benda is one of the most important creators in Czech typographic history. As an artist, he educated and inspired generations of Czech typographers. His work influences and surrounds us to this day. The book historically represents the first attempt to capture Benda's life's work and present his tremendous typographic realizations.
The book, compiled by Petra Dočekalová of Prague-based Briefcase Type Foundry and published by the UMPRUM Publishing House, currently is having great success with the Czech audience. Among other things, it won the award for the Most Beautiful Book of the Year competition. It gained a lot of attention from foreign audiences, by achieving fantastic success after a lecture at the TypeCon conference in Minneapolis, USA, and at the ATypI conference in Tokyo, Japan, in September 2019.
Eventually after the positive feedback of this edition, the authors decided to publish the book in English to reach readers abroad, using the crowdfunding platform.
The book, “Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970, Typographic designs and letterforms” represents a historic first attempt to exhaustively capture the typographic work of the versatile Czech artist and type designer.
Its first part briefly outlines his personal and artistic development, while the second part, in five subchapters, characterizes it on the basis of numerous examples of his handwritten letterings and classifies it on the basis of dominant similarities with typographic categories in four main groups: Sans-serif letterforms, serif letterforms, calligraphic and freehand letterforms, and finally typeface designs.
The transformations of their expression are followed from the beginning to the end of Benda’s work, not only on the basis of common letterform design on paper, but also in less-used materials such as metal, stone, and glass.
The basis for capturing the character of Benda’s letterforms was created both by the authors of the collection of works in which Benda applied his typographic skill, as well as a number of unique artistic types in use they managed to find. In the conclusion of the book, the authors attempt to evaluate Benda’s typographical work with regard to the present and reflect upon the meaning of the contemporary search for the “national character” of letterforms.
The book concludes the overview of Benda’s life in dates and a highly valuable inventory of his typographic work, which is reproduced here to the extent possible.
“Benda’s work fell into oblivion for many decades and a comprehensive biography of Benda has never been published. Until now” reads the text of the Kickstarter campaign.
“Nearly half a century after his death, we presented to the Czech public the fruit of five years of our work – Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970: Typografická úprava a písmo. But now we need your help. With your support, we can translate the book into English and make it accessible to all of you outside of the Czech-speaking world!” notes the team that “assembled a body of works in which Benda applied his typographic skills, which are presented together with a large number of Benda’s artistic typefaces. At the conclusion of the book, the authors attempt to evaluate Benda’s typographical work with regard to the present and reflect on the meaning of the present-day search for a 'national character' of letterforms.”
The book was presented at TypeCon Minneapolis 2019. Attendees at TypeCon 2019 were among the first to see in its entirety the vast scale of Benda’s distinctive typefaces and inventive solutions, which have become contemporary again from today’s perspective. Sadly, back then there was only a Czech translation available.
The text of the publication is accompanied by recollections from his granddaughter and a complete list of his students at the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague -also known as UMPRUM- which was founded in 1885 and is ranked among the world’s top art schools.
Benda, an important pillar who stood at the beginnings of contemporary Czech typography, was an influencer who greatly inspired generations of type designers to come.
Discover all the reasons why and support the project here.