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Donald Tarallo - Letter Perfect

Recently, Professor Donald Tarallo asked his typography students to do something out of the ordinary. He asked them to create their own versions of Italian letterforms that were created some 2,000 years ago in Rome and Pompeii.

Why focus on centuries-old typography in a modern-day class? “The Latin alphabet is fascinating because it’s constantly evolving,” Professor Tarallo explains. “It’s as relevant today as it ever was.”

In copying the Italian forms and creating new ones, his students were learning not only about ancient letterforms but also how to break things down to the level of individual strokes and serifs, and to think hard about the architecture of these inscriptions. The letterform versions they created were shown in the Maxwell Library that spring.

Professor Tarallo believes that by looking backward, his students will become better artists and designers in the future. “These days we’re almost moving toward a language of pictures with the Internet, and there’s a constant flow of new font designs. I want to give my students a perspective on it. I’m constantly discovering the beauty of this craft and the importance of language and its visualization in the development of society. Without this, we don’t evolve.”