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Anthony Froshaug

Anthony Froshaug (1920–84) was an English typographer and teacher. Born in London to a Norwegian father and English mother, he went to Charterhouse School and the Central School of Arts & Crafts. On leaving the Central in 1939 he began to practice as a freelance graphic designer and typographer. As a typographer he was unusual in running his own small (un-private) press, including two periods of printing in Cornwall (1949–52, 1954–7). This attachment to working with his hands (and feet) in the material production of printing, he combined with a fierce intellect and an often astonishing visual sureness. Froshaug can be considered as the most convincing exponent of modern typography in Britain. Froshaug was a natural teacher: he taught first at the Central School (1948–9, 1952–3), then at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (1957–61), the Royal College of Art in London (1961–4), Watford School of Art (1964–6); in 1970 he returned to teach (part-time) at the Central School, continuing there until illness forced him to stop.

Books

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Anthony Froshaug: Typography & texts / Documents of a life

Robin Kinross (editor)

Presents the work and life of this essential typographer, until now too little known outside the circle of his friends and students. Froshaug was a deep and charismatic thinker-practitioner, whose insights return us to the fundamentals of typography. The book consists of two interacting volumes: the solid record of the work is placed against the contingencies of the life. A traditional monograph is unsettled by an exploration in documentary.

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Journal

‘On typography’

Anthony Froshaug / 2009.10.19

Anthony Froshaug’s article ‘Typography is a grid’, which we posted here in August 2000, has proved to be the most popular page on this website, with numbers boosted recently by a link from a website about grids in typography. One suspects that the meaning of Froshaug’s text eludes many of these visitors (he thought that grids were self-evident and inevitable; not something to make a song and dance about). As a counterweight to – and in part a confirmation of – the ideas in ‘Typography is a grid’, it is worth reading more of what he wrote. The piece given below was written in 1947, but published only in 2000, in the book that gathers all of his writings: ‘Anthony Froshaug: Typography & texts’. The social-political dimension, which is always evident in his work, is strikingly present here. And, as Paul Stiff remarks of Froshaug in his very recently published essay ‘Austerity, optimism: modern typography in Britain after the war’ (in the book ‘Modern typography in Britain’): ‘what sharpens his praxis is phosphoric writing, better theoretically informed than any contemporary designer’. Read more

Typography is a grid

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Anthony Froshaug / 2000.08.21

This article was first published in ‘The Designer’, no. 167, January 1967. It is one of the ‘texts’ published in our book Anthony Froshaug: Typography & texts / Documents of a life’. Froshaug wrote this at the height of the vogue for grid-based graphic design, imported into Britain from (especially) Switzerland. In an earlier contribution to ‘The Designer’, Brian Grimbly – a friend and colleague of Froshaug – had discussed grids in a purely pragmatic way, as a tool for designers. (‘Designing to a grid’, ‘The Designer’, no. 162, August 1966, pp. 4–5). Anthony Froshaug then wrote this ‘call to order’, restating central tenets of his approach to typography.

Some slight editorial changes have been made in reprinting the article here. Notes to the text and illustrations were originally numbered in one sequence, but have here been renumbered in two sequences. ‘Typography is a grid’ was first reprinted in ‘Design Dialogue’, no. 1, 1969: a magazine edited by students at Stafford College of Art and Design. Froshaug’s work was important for the design course at Stafford, as Peter Burnhill implied in his retrospective: ‘Outside the whale’, ‘Information Design Journal’, vol.8, no.3, 1996, pp. 195–218. More recently, ‘Typography is a grid’ has been reprinted with illustrations and notes reshuffled and misnumbered, within the grimly utilitarian pages of the anthology ‘Looking closer 3’, edited by Michael Bierut and others for Allworth Press (New York, 1999). Read more