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Christopher Burke

Christopher Burke is a typographer, typeface designer, and a writer on modern typographic history. After graduating in Typography & Graphic Communication from the University of Reading he worked at Monotype Typography in the UK. Leaving Monotype, he undertook research at Reading for a PhD on Paul Renner, which he completed in 1995. This provided the basis for his book Paul Renner. From 1996 to 2001 he taught at the University of Reading, where he planned and conceived the MA in typeface design. His Celeste and Parable typefaces are available from FontShop, and Pragma from Neufville Digital. His book on Jan Tschichold, Active literature, was published in 2007. For more, go to Hibernia Type.

Books

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Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971

Christopher Burke, Eric Kindel, Sue Walker (editors)

The work in graphic communication carried out by Otto Neurath and his associates – now commonly known simply as Isotype – has been the subject of much interest in recent years. Conceived and developed in the 1920s as ‘the Vienna method of pictorial statistics’, this approach to designing information had from its inception the power to grow and spread internationally. Political developments in Europe played their part in its development, and production moved to the Netherlands (1934) and to England (1940), where the Isotype Institute continued to produce work until 1971. Bringing together the latest research, this book is the first comprehensive, detailed account of its subject. The Austrian, Dutch, and English years of Isotype are described here freshly and extensively. There are chapters on the notable extensions of Isotype to Soviet Russia, the USA, and Africa. Isotype work in film and in designing for children is fully documented and discussed. Between these main chapters the book presents interludes documenting Isotype production visually. Three appendices reprint key documents. In its international coverage and its extensions into the wider terrain of history, this book opens a new vista in graphic design.

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From hieroglyphics to Isotype: a visual autobiography

Otto Neurath / edited by Matthew Eve & Christopher Burke

Otto Neurath wrote From hieroglyphics to Isotype during the last two years of his life: this is the first publication of the full text, carefully edited from the original manuscripts in the Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection at the University of Reading. Calling it a ‘visual autobiography’, Neurath documents the importance to him of visual material, from his earliest years to his professional activity with the picture language of Isotype. He draws clear connections between the stimulus he received as a boy – from illustrated books, toys, and exhibitions – to the considered work in visual education that occupied him for the last twenty years of his life. This engaging and informal account gives a rich picture of Central-European culture around the turn of the twentieth century, as well as an exposition of the techniques of Isotype. The edition includes the numerous illustrations intended by Neurath to accompany his text, and is completed by an extensive appendix showing examples from the rich variety of graphic material that he collected.

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Active literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography

Christopher Burke

In the first book on Tschichold to be based on extensive archive research, Burke turns fresh and revealing light on his subject. He sets Tschichold in the network of artists and designers who constituted New Typography in its moment of definition and exploration, and puts new emphasis on Tschichold as an activist collector, editor and writer. Tschichold’s work is shown in colour throughout, in freshly made photographs of examples drawn from public and private collections. This is not a biography, but rather a discussion of the work seen in the context of Tschichold’s life and the times in which he lived.

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Paul Renner: the art of typography

Christopher Burke

The work and life of this German type and book-designer are, for the first time, presented at length and with full historical documentation. Renner lived through the first half of the twentieth century, and this book is, in effect, a history of typography in Germany in those years. It also speaks to present concerns in design, and especially to the search for a rationality deeper than one of easy rules of style.

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Journal

‘Typography papers 9’ and ‘Isotype’

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2013.12.10

Copies of our two new titles arrived in the office recently, and we are releasing them for sale today. These are Typography papers 9, edited by Eric Kindel and Paul Luna, and Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971, edited by Christopher Burke, Eric Kindel, and Sue Walker. Both books are collaborations with the Department of Typography at the University of Reading; the second book being an outcome of the Isotype revisited project there. Both books have been well printed by Die Keure in Bruges. Both have been well finished and bound (using cold glue) by, respectively, Sepeli in Evergem and Callenbach in Nijkerk. For some people the binding alone will make them worth getting hold of. For others the extraordinarily rich content will be the main reason for acquisition. Read more

Interview with Christopher Burke

Andreu Balius and Juan J. Arrausi / 2002.05.17

We publish an interview with Christopher Burke, conducted and introduced by Andreu Balius and Juan J. Arrausi, graphic designers in Barcelona. This is the original English text of the interview published in Spanish in the magazine ‘GRRR’ (no. 8, 2001). The discussion opens with a consideration of the work of Paul Renner, and especially his typeface Futura, then moves on to Christopher Burke’s own work as a type designer. Read more