Without Type: The Dynamism of Handmade Letters

Exhibition Dates :: January 22 thru April 3, 2016

Opening Reception :: January 22, 2016 :: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Location :: San Francisco Center for the Book, 375 Rhode Island Street, San Francisco

Most of the written words we see and read today aren’t actually written: they’re typographic. This exhibition delves into the rich collections of Letterform Archive—a new design library located in San Francisco's Potrero Hill district—to showcase the making of letters and words by hand.

From Illuminated manuscripts to psychedelic posters, from pen calligraphy to vector lettering, Without Type evokes striking and unexpected aesthetic echoes among letterforms created across time periods and geographies. The diversity of shapes and styles on display is testament to the endless creativity that can stem from the simple act of making letters by hand.

Without Type features handmade works from diverse disciplines including calligraphers, constructivists, architects, type designers, & illustrators, such as Jessica Hische, El Lissitzky, Eric Carle, and William Addison Dwiggins, plus many more.


Rob Saunders, is Curator of the Letterform Archive. A designer, teacher, publisher, and management consultant, he taught at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Tufts University, while serving freelance clients and agencies, before founding a book publishing enterprise that included Alphabet Press (graphic design), Picture Book Studio (children’s books), and Rabbit Ears Books (book/audio packages), which was acquired by Simon & Schuster. Prior to becoming Curator of Letterform Archive he served as a creative and marketing consultant with clients in the hospitality, technology, and financial industries.

Associate Curator

Kate Robinson, is Collections Associate at Letterform Archive. She holds an MFA in poetry and book art from Mills College, and creates intermedia artists’ books and printed ephemera as Manifest Press. She co-curated the Manifest Reading and Workshop Series, a founding series of the East Bay Poetry Summit, from 2011-2014 and currently performs collaboratively as The Third Thing. Kate was the 2014 Mills College Book Art Teaching Fellow, and has taught workshops at schools all along the west coast. She currently project manages Material Print Machine, an artist-run print studio and bindery and recipient of an Alternative Exposure grant in 2014.

Exhibition Catalog

A fully illustrated catalog of this exhibition may be purchased from San Francisco Center for the Book.


Grants for the Arts | San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund

The Kahle Austin Foundation

The Kahle Austin Fund through the San Francisco Foundation