Last Friday, typographer Dan Rhatigan visited Base to take part in our 4+1 series. Dan designs typefaces, curates exhibitions, teaches about typography and publishes a magazine. Born in the seventies, Dan has an affinity for the last generation of the rub-down type era, which explains his fascination in documenting a technology that is otherwise obsolete.
The Letraset products took off in 1961 when a dry, transferable, lettering system was developed, making typesetting directly accessible to designers. This newly founded freedom ushered an era of punk rock graphic design characterized by wobbly baselines and unexpected combinations of typefaces in all sizes. With care and attention, however, it was also a great way for the non-professional designer to practice and develop an eye for polished typography.
Digital technologies soon took over, leaving rub-down type behind. Dan however, embraced the dated style as the perfect expression for his side project, a queer, punk rock magazine: Pink Mice. In this project, the limitations that come with Letraset technologies were prized as stylistic advantages and the accidental mistakes were embraced as part of the experience. For Dan, Letraset’s authentic graphic sensibility is the direct result of a democratized means of production.