Type Nerd Heaven

July 30, 2018

Pumphouse partner and typography teacher Wayne Thompson recently spent an intensive two weeks at the University of Reading as part of a Masters program in Typeface Design. Reading is one of the few institutions in the world to offer this unique program, and Reading has a global reputation for its collection of typographic artefacts.

In other words, it’s Type Nerd Heaven!

Lectures on niche areas of type design like the history of italics, researching archival items dating back to the 1500s, and workshops in non-latin scripts such as Arabic calligraphy, combine to provide an opportunity in typographic learning not available here in Australia.


Using traditional lettering tools during a hands-on Arabic calligraphy workshop.


The University of Reading’s extensive archives include these samples of stencil type – a process used to create individual type specimens in the late 1800s.


The formal lectures included this presentation about Arabic type by Emanuela Conidi. Part of Emanuela’s research included study of the first ever Qu’ran printed with moveable type, dated 1538, of which the only known copy was discovered by chance in a monastery library in 1987.

Wayne says his time at Reading has, “Provided me with the theoretical and historical contexts I have been lacking in my commercial practice, proving a foundation for my processes and approaches to typeface design”.

Another great advantage has been getting direct access to experts in this specialised field. Wayne was able to meet and gain feedback from a few type legends including Dutchmen Gerard Unger and Fred Smeijers, both of whom have authored books adorning the shelves in his studio. “When you attend in-person classes it’s so much better than learning through online methods”, Wayne explained – something that fits squarely with our Pumphouse hands-on learning philosophy.


Wayne Thompson (left) having fan boy moment with Gerard Unger

The immersive nature of the intensive course was also beneficial. There’s nothing like learning alongside like-minded professional designers, typography students and font engineers. In the process Wayne has had some burning technical questions answered, helping in his own Australian Type Foundry projects. Cutting-edge font making processes such as producing variable fonts are now something that Wayne can offer his clients.



Coming up in 2018 Wayne will be delivering the Foundation Illustrator and Introduction to Branding Design courses, along with workshops in Presentation Skills and Brush Pen Casual Lettering.


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