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Markus Itkonen

Markus Kalevi Itkonen
Born December 17, 1965 Rural Municipality of Helsinki (Vantaa)
Doctor of Arts 2012 (graphic design), Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Master of Arts 1991 (art history), University of Helsinki
Graphic designer 1986, Mainosgraafikkojen koulu, Helsinki

Graafinen suunnittelu Markus Itkonen Oy 1987– (owner), core business: book design

Kirjaintyypit ja tyyli (‘Type designs and style’). November 2015

Typografian käsikirja (‘Handbook of Typography’) 2003. 4th Ed. 2012

The Unknown Finnish Type Designs 1920–1985. Doctoral dissertation, 2012

Typoteesejä. Tarkan typografian opas. (‘A precise guide to typography’) 1999

Articles from the field of typography and graphic design 1990–

Awards and special achievements
State Award for Public Information (as a member of a working group) 2009

10 honorary diplomas from the Vuoden kirjavaliot (‘Books of the year’) competition (now The Most Beautiful Book of the Year competition)

The Finnish Centre for Easy to Read’s Sesame Prize 2005, for the design of a an easy-to-read art book

Photo: Pertti Salonen
Written by Markus Itkonen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Studying for two degrees

During my first two academic years I was studying concurrently at the University of Helsinki and Mainosgraafikkojen koulu, a traditional school for graphic design. This combination resulted in long, fragmented days which often kept me up around the clock. I spent most of my third academic year in the army, and it was only in the fourth year that was I able to dedicate myself full time to the University.

My major, art history, was the university subject closest to my true love, graphic design and typefaces. My minor was media and communication studies. Even if I hadn’t realised it at the time, it is nothing other than typefaces that merge art and communication in an uncommonly close and natural fashion. In graphic design there was little offered in the way of theories of art and culture, so I figured the combination of these two degrees would prove useful, which it indeed did. To understand styles you need to study both history and theory.

The subject and title of my Master's thesis – postmodern typography – must have been an oddity at the Department of Art History. I like to think I made it easier for my professor by adopting Charles Jencks’ criteria for the nature and characteristics of postmodern architecture as my theoretical framework. Font design and architecture are surprisingly closely related: they are divided into largely identical periods which are expressed in similar forms and proportions. In ancient Rome, typefaces were already intimately bound to architecture, and it was exactly the same in postmodernism, two thousand years later.

At my graduation ceremony 1991 in the old wing of the University Main Building with my wife Satu and my father Terho. Photo: Pirjo Itkonen.


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