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4 Minnesota Ceramicists poster

Contributed by Mark Simonson on Feb 26th, 2023. Artwork published in
January 1976
4 Minnesota Ceramicists poster 1
Photo: Mark Simonson. License: All Rights Reserved.

When I was studying art and graphic design at North Hennepin Community College, I designed this 11″ × 17″ poster for a ceramics exhibition held in the campus center. Graphic design students were routinely called upon to design these posters and, of the ones I did, this was my favorite.

The design doesn’t have much to do with ceramics per se. Instead I chose to focus on the number four—four artists, four ways to display the poster, laid out a bit like a playing card. There’s really no correct orientation, and hence no one artist gets preferential billing. They are all equally represented.

I chose Glaser Stencil (set with Letraset) because of its graphic qualities. It felt modern, almost avant garde to me at the time, and fit the geometric logic of the design, with large figure fours as the dominant typographic element. On the back I used Letter Gothic for the text. We only had access to a typewriter for setting text. Happily, it fit the aesthetic I was going after.

The photos are reproduced in high contrast to underscore the starkness of the design.

As a student, I not only did the design and typesetting, but also did the process camera work, stripping, platemaking, and printed it on a small offset press.

4 Minnesota Ceramicists poster 2
Photo: Mark Simonson. License: All Rights Reserved.


  • Glaser Stencil
  • Letter Gothic




Artwork location

10 Comments on “4 Minnesota Ceramicists poster”

  1. See also Quatro for a similar four-way design that likewise uses Glaser Stencil:

    The British soft drink brand was launched around 1983 – Mark came first! :)

  2. It makes me wonder if both of us were influenced by something earlier. If so, I don’t remember.

  3. Thanks for this excellent entry, Mark! It’s inspired a new tag: equal billing.

  4. Mark, a while ago you pointed out that, unlike in later adaptations, Photo-Lettering’s original version named Glaser Futura Stencil had an N that’s blunt at the bottom right, and also included a different W and a second O with three breaks. It probably had more alternates.

    Glaser Futura Stencil shown in three weights in Photo-Lettering’s One-Line Manual of Styles, 1971

    What I didn’t know is that Letraset’s initial adaptation had this N as well, as exemplified by your poster. I checked my catalogs: the German one from 1971 doesn’t show Glaser Stencil yet, and the one from 1976 already has the revised version with the pointed N – which provided the basis for the digitizations sold by Linotype, URW, and E+F. Letraset adopted Glaser Stencil Bold (and Light) for their Letragraphica range in or before 1973 – it’s included in the Letraset USA catalog, but I don’t have a copy to check the details – and must have revised it shortly thereafter.

    Glyph set of Letraset’s revised Glaser Stencil Bold in a German catalog from 1976. This design provided the basis for the commonly available digitizations.

    Snippets with headlines from the Colonial Echo, a student magazine published by the College of William and Mary in 1977. Is this the initial Letraset adaptation of Glaser Stencil Bold?

    I found an application of what I believe to be the initial Letraset version, in a student magazine from 1977. This version has the blunt N and also different forms for M Q W Z. There’s even an alternate R with curved leg. I hope that someone with a Letraset catalog from the early 1970s can check and confirm.

  5. The revised version apparently was used already in 1973, for the French sleeve of a single by Curtis Mayfield, see this post.

  6. I’ve got a 1971 Letraset USA catalog where there’s a page promoting the Letragraphica series. I can’t tell if this was its introduction, or if it had started earlier. It lists 26 faces, with a promise of new styles to be added every three months. I’ve got two Letragraphica brochures that are dated 1973 and 1974, but Glaser Stencil wasn’t in either.

    Curiously, I’ve got a Letraset catalog from 1977 that lists Glaser Stencil Bold (with the new N), but not Light, suggesting that it had been dropped by then.

  7. (I thought I had included this image in my previous post, but it vanished for some reason…)

  8. In Faces from Letraset, Mike Daines mentions that the Letragraphic range was initiated in 1970, and that Premier Lightline and Cirkulus were part of the first issue, while Premier Shaded and Dempsey came with issue 3. The other faces either are listed as regular (i.e. non-Letragraphica) releases, or they aren’t Letraset originals and hence aren’t covered by the booklet. Now one might assume that each of the boxes with four to five faces equals one Letragraphica issue, but that doesn’t add up: #2 included Octopuss, #4 had Moonshine, and #6 had Pin Ball, according to Daines.

  9. Yeah, I wondered if those boxes were meaningful, and also noticed that some of the faces listed wound up in the standard range.

  10. I realized that the first one to two digits of the sheet number apparently correspond to the Letragraphica issue. For example, Premier Lightline (#1) has LG 101–105, Premier Shaded (#3) has 301–304, and Pin Ball (#6) has 609.

    If this assumption is correct (not all of the issue numbers given by Daines check out, but there might be some inaccuracies on his part), then Glaser Stencil Bold was part of Letragraphica issue 5: it has numbers 502 (60pt) and 504 (36pt). Other sheet numbers starting with 5 include Baby Teeth (507, 509), Bullion Shadow (516, 518, 519), and Frankfurter (520–524). So when did issue 5 came out? Frankfurter is commonly dated to 1970 and was used in 1971.

    Marvin and Neil Bold were indeed part of issue 1, and L&C Stymie Hairline and Welt Extra Bold of issue 2. ITC Avant Garde Gothic X-Light and Medium and also Aachen Bold are listed as non-Letragraphica releases in later catalogs, though.

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