Izzy Pludwinksky is a calligrapher, artist, calligraphy teacher and a Sofer STaM located in Jerusalem. Recently, his book Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy was published (Toby Press). Complete with over 200 full-color illustrations and contributions from some of the world’s top Hebrew calligraphers, this is a beautiful and informative book.
FontShop international uploaded FF Meta Hebrew to its site. FF Meta Hebrew was designed by Oded Ezer and is the Hebrew version of FF Meta, originally designed by German typography master Erik Spiekermann.
FF Meta Hebrew could be purchased only through FontShop website.
The British Library announced in it’s blog that all of the illuminated manuscripts, including those with significant decoration from it’s important collections of Hebrew manuscripts, are now finely included in their Catalogue.
“These Hebrew illuminated manuscripts range in date from the 10th to the 18th century, and their geographical division is just as wide, encompassing Europe, Northern Africa and the East. Most of them contain religious works, such as biblical and liturgical texts, but there are also a number of legal, philosophical and scientific books. You can read more here about the decoration and script of our Hebrew manuscripts.”
Ben (Benjamin) Shahn is best known for his social realist paintings in the 1930′s and 40′s, but he also produced some of the most exciting contemporary Judaica in the United States.
In the 1950′s, he illustrated a book called The Alphabet of Creation, pictured below. (You can still buy a later edition of the book.) His lettering for the cover influenced my classic Hebrew alphabet poster (along with Lawrence Kushner’s Book of Letters); it also became his signature. A stamp of the miniature alphabet appears in the corner of many of his works after 1960. You can see it in red on the lower right corner of this ketubah he designed, which is now in the permanent collection of the New York Jewish Museum:
In the 60′s, he published Love and Joy About Letters, a book which features more of his hand lettering. His training in lithography and graphic design really shines through in his later works.
Interestingly, Shahn made many of the illustrations that would later appear in his Haggadah in the 1930′s. His watercolors were finally published in the 60′s, along with loads of gorgeous hand lettering and 10 drawings for the song Chad Gadya. His Haggadah is a personal volume, evoking his memories of Passover with his father.
Shahn had so much lefty street cred that he was named checked by Woody Allen in Annie Hall (see the :45 mark). But his body of work is multi-dimensional, irreducible. He straddled commercial and fine art, and tackled a broad range of secular and religious subjects. It’s always interesting to see what an artist with such breadth creates as personal work.
A beautiful set of Hebrew alpha-bet cuisenaire rods, one of the earlier examples of the Frank-Rühl letters (published by Rudolph Schick & Co., Belfast, Ireland around 1920).
Designed by Dr. Mojzis Woskin-Nahartabi – a mysterious character and a man of many skills. Woskin-Nahartabi was a Rabbi, a scientist, a Zionist, an orientalist, a theologian and a teacher of languages (he spoke fluent Hebrew, Aramaic, Sumerian and Arabic). During the second world war, he taught children Hebrew in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, until he was sent to Auschwitz – there he was murdered by the Nazis in 1944.
All have been said already about David Tartakover’s new book, “Tartakover”: “The most accurate definition of the phrase “Israeli design”, “Controversial work, at parts outrageous” (It’s not the poster, it’s the reality that is outrageous…); “A punch to the stomach, not a stroke to the eyes”, “Tartakover is who we are”, etc.
It seems as if the controversies conceal two very important aspects of his work, that in my opinion should be taught in the different design schools: his phenomenal ability to combine image and text, and his rear talent in editing.
I don’t know any other Israeli poster designer who managed to create a combination that is not prettified and fake (therefore “creative”), but simple and direct in its honesty – between a ready made image and the right word in a new, surprising context.
The success of this book lies in the precise editing. There are only a few editors who can create a strong narrative through a design book, fewer are those who can edit… themselves. Mere images- from the “sweet” images of “A wonderful country” and “A different country”, through the peace posters, the “Peace now” logo, the occupation posters and the Gilad Shalit poster (“What else will you ask from us, homeland”) – Tartakover creates a precise and tight narrative, as if he was a well experienced director, and he concludes with text, for the Tarta fans.
One of the most fascinating and extensive publications on Hebrew typography of the recent years was released in the Czech Republic, in English (and translated to Czech).
The 25th issue of Typo magazine was released in February 2007 and was fully dedicated to trend reviews of contemporary Hebrew typography and to font design in Israel. This issue, contains articles written by the Israeli designers Oded Ezer, Yanek Iontef, Adi Stern and Yehuda Hofshi, and an article by the British John D. Berry.
Throughout the 7 years in which I studies, analyzed and compared Hebrew and foreign fonts within my work on creating the infrastructure for the newspapers Hadashot and Maariv (1981-1987), I found the font Frank-Rühl, that is widely used in the daily press, to be the heaviest, darkest and most congested of all the fonts used in arranging dozens of daily newspapers I examined in Europe, Asia and America.
The reason that Frank-Rühl (the most easy to read, and most suitable for arranging large amounts of text) became congested and tiresome, is inherent in the failed conversion from cast letters and photographed sequences, to a digital font. The one in charge of the conversion process (a man named Guttman), had the technical skills but unfortunately, lacked understanding of typography. Most of the letters converted from cast and photography to a computerized font, were distorted and lost their quality and readability.
In my search for a font compatible for arranging text, that could reduce blackening of the hands holding the newspaper, that would be light, pleasant and readable, I found that Narkiss letters address these needs. narrowing the font to 87% resulted in the optimal outcome for me. The benefits I found using Narkiss font on paper, are applicable to the future screen as well, and makes it the ideal font for arranging text in the digital space.
Hadassah, which I consider to be the best modern Hebrew font, may also be used as a suitable text font for the new screens. Unlike Narkiss, Hadassah’s computerized version requires a lot of work to repair the distortions caused in the transition from cast to digital letters and to restore the original version designed by Henry Friedlander in the middle of the previous century.
Creating up-to-date quality versions of the Frank-Rühl font in its various weights, is in my opinion, the most important and most essential task of all. As the letters of TIMES ROMAN font in its many versions, were and still are the most common text font in typography design, and receives up to date attention, the same should be held with Frank-Rühl letters.