Was Will Dwiggins an illustrator who
designed type, or the type of designer who
also drew? The answer is that William
Addison Dwiggins was a renaissance man
who did it all. Today we remember Dwiggins
mostly for type design, though there seems
to be an imperceptible line between his
designerly illustrations, totally eccentric
dingbats and typeface designs such as
Metro, Electra, Eldorado and New Cale¬
donia. As a student of Frederic Goudy,
Dwiggins became interested in lettering,
eventually founding the Society of Calli-
graphers. Later in life, Dwiggins created an
elaborate puppet theater and devised inno¬
vative jointing methods for the marionettes
he lovingly hand carved.
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Above, a touching portrait from the 1920s shows WAD
engrossed creatively. Left, a page of logo sketches from
Dwiggins's book Layout in Advertising, 1928, clearly
demonstrates how the ability to draw expands a
designer's conceptual horizons. Nowadays, it might be
uncool to use a Greek deity in a logo, but it'd be nice
to be able to draw one as perfectly proportioned as
Dwiggins's if we wanted to. Below, a sample of
Dwiggins's font, Metro Black shows the exquisite sub¬
tleties for which this designer was so acclaimed.
LOGO, FONT S LETTERING BIBLE 109
Illustrations by Dwiggins from the 1920s and 1930s show his versatility and ter¬
rific compositional sense. He could draw the figure well and used shading to define
contours, also quite decoratively. The crowd scene at right seems to be made up
of almost alphabetically constructed characters.
Opposite page top, one of WAD's eccentric dingbats and a
colophon, right. Above, hand lettering drawn with a pen, 1930,
for Rags, a paper industry brochure that he also designed.