A Chip off the old Wood Block

Written By

Willoughby Design


Behind the Scenes

Posted On


To Mr. Spiekermann for your help with our new Neenah Promo Book– Danke schön!

Designers live and breathe type — mostly in a digital world. But when the opportunity to put type on paper emerges, we get giddy with glee. When Neenah Paper called on Willoughby to whip up a new promo we got SO FRIGGIN’ EXCITED!!!

Our challenge was to highlight the CLASSIC® line of fine paper using classic typography. We pushed that challenge into today’s context of design to showcase how contemporary typography inspired by the past but innovating with current technology. We curated and created six spreads that capture how the digital and analog worlds are united in an unlimited possibility of expression. Each spread tells a story and illustrates the versatility of the paper.

We selected various typefaces to represent the “Fresh Takes on Classic Type” including work by  Jessica Hische, Matthew Carter, Luke LisiNicole and Petra Kapitza and Mika Mischler. We also featured Erik Spiekermann, self-identified sufferer of Typomania, and his wooden block HWT Artz.

Erik was gracious enough to demonstrate the scale of HWT Artz which was designed for Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. We sent him a digital mockup of a quote to layout using the actual wooden type in his Berlin letterpress workshop. He took a photo that includes an ink brayer to show the scale of the type (uber huge). Using a quote from Wim Hovens, the spread showcases how great Neenah Classic Paper is for high-quality printing.

Featuring Erik Spiekermann's HWT ARTZ typeface on Neenah Classic Crest


Verso features photo of hand-set type in the p98a Letterpress Workshop. Recto continues Wim Hoven’s quote with the positive impression embossed behind the ink.

“I designed Artz to be easy to cut with a pantograph. The vector data was used for the patterns to make large wooden type. The tallest size is 60 picas (10 inches). Digital meets the analog in our experimental letterpress workshop.”

— Erik Spiekermann

Our design collaborator, Meryl Vedros, helped to personally deliver a Thank You gift to Mr. Spiekermann while visiting his p98a studio in Berlin, Germany.

Pictured from left (Ferdinand Ulrich, Meryl Vedros, Norman Posselt, and Erik Spiekermann), photographed by Norman Posselt.


Pictured from left (Ferdinand Ulrich, Meryl Vedros, Norman Posselt, and Erik Spiekermann), photographed by Norman Posselt.

Meryl describes her meeting:

“When I arrived at 15:30 (sharp as Germans prefer) Erik was printing a poster that read, “Feck Perfection.” He had his apron on and the machines were in full swing. The office was meeting deadlines per usual as I expect. So we had a lot of small talk in between the printing. Erik and I reminisced about our first meeting at the Type Directors Club in 2011 and our shared love for minimalist typography.

Later, while Erik kept busy, Ferdinand and I took a stroll around the office, looked at the poster collection designed by p98a, and shared our love for metal type and German design (swoon). We could all agree on a lot of things, but in particular we like strong coffee and love Akzidenz Grotesk. It was an inspirational day to say the least. I went home and set type with a glass of wine. Alles gut!

Ferdinand shared with me this gorgeous font they were playing with. Equity, designed for lawyers. I like to think of it like Times New New Roman. Except those italics are so fresh. Enjoy.”

Erik examines perfection.

Erik examines perfection.

Look for additional behind the story stories about the other spreads in future blogs. Talk to your local Neenah Paper rep about getting your own paper sample.