Mark van Wageningen

Mark van Wageningen's wooden letter stamps


 Editorial Staff

 2 July 2015

Mark van Wageningen at ZB45 makerspace: “For me, it’s like making typographic history reversed.”



During our NLmakertour, we came across plenty of makers who worked on the oddest but brilliant ideas in FabLabs and makerspaces.

At ZB45 Makerspace in Amsterdam, we met Mark van Wageningen, owner of Novo Typo,  an independent (typo)graphic design studio and type-foundry based in Amsterdam.

His work focuses on fonts and, at ZB45, he was surrounded by wooden letter stamps and test prints. We approached him to discover what he was doing and how he was using digital fabrication for such a traditional work.

Mark van Wageningen's wooden letter stamps

Mark van Wageningen’s wooden letter stamps. Photograph: PlugnMake

The process he follows doesn’t aim to simplify the typographic techniques – whose roots lie in the 16th century – but to improve them.

Basically, Mark exploits flexibility and opportunities offered by computer-aided design, to draw letters.

Then through CNC machines, he realizes the wooden letter stamps used to print according to traditional methods.

His personal touch lies both in the design and in the stamps’ realization phases. While designing, Mark tries to obtain natural, human, imperfect shapes which the milling machine will render with the typical accuracy of a digital process:

“All my life, all my career as a type designer, I have tried to find imperfections of analog material and to translate them into digital.” (Mark van Wageningen)

Mark van Wageningen's wooden letter stamps

Mark van Wageningen’s wooden letter stamps. Photograph: PlugnMake

One of the main aspects he takes into account when designing is the tactile feeling that shape and its imprint can transmit.

The choice of the material is, therefore, very important because each kind of wood has its own level of surface smoothness and results in a unique ink imprint.

As he highlights, he is bringing digital technique back in time:

 

“It sounds a little bit like a crazy post-modern idea. Computer is cold, so I try to find the warm, humanistic approach that you can find in old techniques. For me, it’s like making typographic history reversed.” (Mark van Wageningen)

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