A Typographic Anatomy Lesson

Do you know what all the parts of the characters in an alphabet are called? To be honest, although I examine, discuss and write about type on an almost daily basis there still are blind spots in my typographic vocabulary. Sometimes I can be really struggling to name very specific details. This is where the limited edition Lesson Plan Print comes to the rescue. Ligature, Loop & Stem have produced a great print with an overview of all you need to know about typographic anatomy.

From the Ligature, Loop & Stem website:

Think you know your typographic anatomy? Can you tell a dot from a tittle or an aperture from an ascender at seventy-two points?

Typographers refer to elements of a letterform using a variety of terms that align naturally to architecture or the human body – eye, ear, foot, arm, lobe, leg – and we’ve captured many of them in this modernist-style limited edition print.

Each individually numbered 12″ × 16″ print is reproduced in Toronto by Neil Wismayer at Lunar Caustic Press on 130lb Strathmore Natural White wool finish stock in black and PMS187 red inks. Prints are hand stamped with an official red LL&S wax seal. The first 32 copies of this typographic lesson plan print were signed in Los Angeles at TypeCon2010 “Babel” by designers Scott Boms and Grant Hutchinson. They are looking at possibilities to sign a larger portion prior to shipping, but with Scott residing in Toronto and Grant in Calgary, they can’t guarantee anything.

Prints ship in heavy-duty stay-flat sleeves with additional acid-free cardboard inserts and protective corners for added protection. Prints are not matted or framed.

I asked Grant to tell me more about Ligature, Loop & Stem, self-proclaimed “creators and curators of fine typography-related products.”

G R A N T  H U T C H I N S O N | “It’s simple really. We – designers Scott Boms, Luke Dorny, and Grant Hutchinson – love all things typographic. Keeping this in mind, Ligature, Loop & Stem was founded in September 2009 with one modest goal: to celebrate design and typography, to create some exciting and fun products that would fill a gap that felt like it needed filling.

Our expressive and experimental journeys may lead us to create buttons (badges, for those in the UK), letterpress or silkscreen posters, unique clothing and wearables, or things yet undiscovered. The sky’s the limit. Our plan is to roll out new, limited edition collections whenever we feel we have something tasty for the design community. We also hope that LL&S will act as an educational mechanism as well as an inspirational one which is why the pieces so far have included either historical or useful reference material.

Our paramount concerns as we design, print, and assemble each product are care and quality. We won’t resell products found elsewhere in stores or online – these babies are all ours.”

Where does the name come from?

G R A N T  H U T C H I N S O N | “The name was a happy accident. It fell together while looking through Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style and then piecing together a few typographic terms. Of course, it always helps when the domain name was unique enough to not be taken. When spoken aloud, “Ligature, Loop & Stem” seemed to have a nice rhythm and balance, rolling off the tongue. After letting it gel for a few days, it just stuck.”

I noticed you use very nice web fonts on the website.

G R A N T  H U T C H I N S O N | “Yes, that’s Veronika Burian and José Scaglione‘s Bree for headlines, and David Březina‘s Skolar for text, both available from TypeTogether and served by Typekit.

So, who exactly is Ligature, Loop & Stem?

G R A N T  H U T C H I N S O N | “Ligature, Loop & Stem is held together with bailing wire, chewing gum, and the following talented folks:

LLS seem to have struck a chord. Their letterpressed homage to everyone’s favourite conjunctive ligature, The Ampersand, was one of only ten designs selected in the 2010 HOW Poster Design Awards. Not too shabby for a very first edition out of the gate. Even more impressive is that the initial run of The Ampersand sold out in less than 48 hours. The latest edition, the Typographic Lesson Plan is on track to match that feat.

All images: Grant Hutchinson

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  1. Absolutely gorgeous. I wonder if they’ll ship to Brazil.

    Posted by FV on Sep. 2, 2010
  2. Thanks so much for kind words, Yves. We’re all feeling very humbled right now.

    Posted by Scott on Sep. 2, 2010
  3. @FV – You bet. There’s already at least one going to Brasil along with copies going to Australia, China, the UK, and all across the US and Canada.

    Posted by Scott on Sep. 2, 2010
  4. Deeply honoured!

    Also, not mentioned, but the typefaces used on the print are Neil Summerour’s Epic and Kris Sowersby’s National.

    Posted by Luke Dorny on Sep. 2, 2010
  5. Those pictures of the print by Grant are fabulous: beautiful and classy, and they do the print more than justice. Natural light through Grant’s kitchen windows? That, and an expert photographer of course. ; )

    Posted by Yves Peters on Sep. 2, 2010
  6. Had the pleasure of meeting Scott & Luke briefly at Typecon and in person, these posters are gorgeous! (Their respective business cards are also beautifully printed on thick uncoated paper.) Beautiful job guys (and gal)!

    Posted by Nancy Wu on Sep. 2, 2010
  7. Don’t forget: You can also download FontShop’s own Type Glossary guide, as well as a number of other educational materials, on the FontShop Education page.

    Posted by Ivan Bettger on Sep. 3, 2010
  8. Beautiful, beautiful work. The bite of inked metal into a thick piece of paper is, for me, breathtaking. I’d love to order a print but all the links lead to the equivalent of “under construction.” Any thoughts on when the construction will end?

    Posted by Patrick Devine on Sep. 3, 2010
  9. @Nancy – Lovely to meet you as well. Thanks for the kind words!

    @Patrick – We encountered a minor hiccup on the site this afternoon and had to drop into maintenance mode to sort it out – presumably that’s when you were trying to load up the site then. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on whose side you take), the last of the prints were snatched up shortly after we were back up.

    Posted by Scott on Sep. 3, 2010
  10. I’m not really much of a typography geek, but I *did* really enjoy the photography on this page. Depth of field, composition: nice work!

    Posted by Laroquod on Sep. 6, 2010
  11. Really beautiful print, excellent !

    Posted by Theo on Sep. 8, 2010
  12. It’s gorgeous! Pity, I discovered this after they were sold out.

    Posted by Kirsten on Sep. 18, 2010

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