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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

Unique Finnish dissertation

After a fifteen-year break, I returned to academia to start my doctoral studies at the University of Industrial Arts and Design. I was annoyed when in the middle of my studies its name changed to Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

My subject, Finnish typeface projects of the 20th century, felt obvious to me. It was wholly uncharted territory, despite font design being fashionable and popular today.

I had started collecting everything on the subject in the 1980s, so I had a vague notion of what I was about to do. I also knew my research material would never be very large and that all the data would have to be ferreted out from various archives and people's storage boxes. The dissertation would not be a massive tome.

Even within the branch, people were wont to state that there were no Finnish typeface projects of previous decades other than the unfinished Kalevala typeface project of Akseli and Jorma Gallen-Kallela in the early 1930s. Quite true, if all you count is traditional metal type. But typefaces have also been designed for use in many other machines and many reproduction technologies: phototypesetting, transfer letter sheets, adhesive letter cutters, license plate stamping machines. All in all I discovered about a dozen highly varied projects and executions. I expected that after my dissertation (2012) one or two more would turn up, but so far nothing has.

In the end, the major stumbling block for my dissertation was that both the pre-examiners and the opponent had to be PhDs and at least somewhat familiar with the field, and graphic design and academia seemed to be like oil and water. There had been some previous dissertations on newspapers that had also touched on typographical issues, but as far as I know I was the first in Finland to write a dissertation on typography as such.

Just before the start of my introductory lecture of my doctoral defence, October 2012. The title and cover of my dissertation projected on the wall. Photo: Anni Hanén-Kajander.


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