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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

Typeface is the text’s tone of voice

Typography is the selection and use of typefaces (or fonts). It’s not by writing by hand that you produce typography but by employing pre-prepared letters (typefaces). For the general public, typography is still mostly a closed book, even though we live surrounded by it. Nevertheless, it does arouse interest and provoke opinions.

To me, writing, the transmission of information through essentially abstract symbols, is one of mankind’s best inventions. Typography is the visual form of language, and each typeface is its tone of voice. As we know, both tone of voice and body language can tell more – and reveal more – than the actual words.

Most of my working day consists of sitting in my office in front of a big screen with typefaces, pictures, and book pages. I fiddle with them to find out which typeface would be the best match for the subject of a particular book and the nature of the text. I contemplate columns, margins, typographical contrast, the scaling of pictures, and the rhythm of picture layout. I love it – every job is different; you can't copy a project, and besides, where would be the fun in that?

A typeface can also illustrate a period. When Matti Kassila was making his name in the 1950s and 1960s, typefaces such as Radiant, seen here on the book cover, were popular in the West, especially on film posters. At the end of the 60s they went out of fashion. In the actual text, the range of options is of course far smaller but still significant. Cover design: Markus Itkonen, 2013.


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