Academic journal article Visible Language

Remembrances of Eminent Contributors to Visible Language's First 50 Years

Academic journal article Visible Language

Remembrances of Eminent Contributors to Visible Language's First 50 Years

Article excerpt

Fernand Baudin

^strike-through 1918^ 2005

Good book design invites reading with pleasure

It all starts with good writing

Born in 1918 in a little village In Flanders, Fernand Baudln settled with his father (his mother died soon after he was born) near Verviers, east of Liège. He studied Latin and Greek and pursued music during secondary school. In the mid-thirties he continued his education in Brussels, where in evening classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, his teacher, Maurice Gaspard, drew his attention to type faces.

In 1937 he entered the Institut Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs (National Institute for Applied Art), founded in 1927 by Henry van de Velde and called 'La Cambre'. There Fernand attended Joris Minne's course in Book Decoration, producing drawings, linocuts, woodcuts, and engravings. After Belgian military service and internment as a prisoner of war in Germany, he returned to La Cambre where he took the course in typography, graduating with distinction in 1

While working as a graphic adviser at various newspapers, he also taught himself the customs and rules of book design. He was fluent and exceedingly well read in French, Dutch, English and German and was never without pencil or pen at hand. His graphically expressive and linguistically exuberant handwritten letters were always a delight to receive and read. Over the years, he became acquainted with typographic experts on both sides of the ocean, making many friends.

From 1954 to 1966, he was editor and designer for all printed publicity for Etablissements Plantin, the Brussels branch of the typefoundry Lettergieterij 'Amsterdam' voorheen N. Tetterode, while continuing to work as a freelance book designer and consultant. After meeting the newly appointed head of the Royal Library in Brussels, Herman Liebaers (1919-2010), who had a reliable feeling for a well-designed and a well-printed book, Fernand was engaged as typographic designer for the library's exhibition catalogues and other publications. Among his noteworthy book designs are Art roman dans la vallée de la Meuse auxxie et xiie siècles (Brussels: Arcade, 1961) produced in three languages - in three books; the exhibition catalogue Stanley Morison (Brussels: Royal Library, 1966); and the Table pastorale de la Bible: index analytique et analogique by G. Passelecq and F. Poswick osb (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1974). The inventory of his typographic oeuvre includes nearly 300 items including book designs, book covers, posters, and publicity materials. Although he lived to see the rise of informatics, he didn't change his 'scissors and paste' working method. Nonetheless, he had clear ideas about computers and typography, expressed in his 1986 lecture "Pour la qualité 'typographique' en informatique''.

As a member of the Compagnons de Lure, in Lurs in Provence, he became acquainted with Maximilien Vox, Roger Excoffon, the designer of Mistral and Antique Olive type faces, Aaron Burns founder of the International Typeface Corporation, and others. Fernand published reports of the Lurs meetings and the now rare, famous, and much-coveted 'Dossiers' on Vox, Mise en Page, and other subjects. He was on the editorial board of The Journal for Typographic Research (later, Visible Language) and a contributor to the journal. For many years he was the only Belgian at the meetings of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypil) of which he was elected vice-president in 1991.

Baudin gave many lectures to explain the importance of a well designed book and to communicate his vision on typography to anyone with an open mind. Even more than his sparkling, witty, publications, his vivid but nevertheless well-structured and eloquent lectures delighted audiences, whether specialists in the field of typography or anyone interested in the making of books -both written and designed - because for him, well-designed typography requires well-considered author's copy. His bibliography includes over 200 items, culminating in his magnum opus, L'Effet Gutenberg in 1994 (Paris: Cercle de la Librairie). …

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