Cover to Cover: Lettering Arts Center Showcases Iconic Michael Harvey Design
Michael Harvey was a designer designer, revered by other graphic designers and letter engravers, but little known outside these sacred circles.
This exhibition at the Lettering Arts Center in Suffolk hopes to change that, as it brings together the collected works of Harvey; from myriads of book covers and digital fonts to his letters carved in stone.
Harvey, who died in 2013, started as a stonemason in the 1950s, working under the direction of Eric Gill’s first apprentice, Joseph Cribb. Although he was heavily influenced by Gill, Harvey was also inspired by woodcutter, printmaker, designer, typographer and painter Reynolds Stone, and was his assistant in the 1950s. German font designers Georg Trump and Hermann Zapf were other important influences.
From the 1960s to the 1990s his career was dominated by the design of book covers – he produced around 1,500 stylish typographic offerings for publishing houses such as Hodder & Stoughton, MacMillan, Chatto & Windus, Hamish Hamilton, Methuen and The Bodley Head.
Over the past few years, Harvey has designed a number of well-known digital fonts for the software company Adobe, but the notebooks and drawings featured in the exhibit at Snape Maltings’ Rural Arts Center demonstrate that drawing was still at the heart of his mind. .
“Drawing frees the hand from the demands of the wide-brimmed pen, of the writer’s brush,” Harvey wrote in his 2012 memoir, Adventures with letters. “The pencil is neutral. The eyes and the mind are in control.