For some years, I have harboured a quiet obsession for Evert Bloemsma. Given the Dutch name, you would naturally assume he is a type designer, and he is – or was, since he died in 2005. He designed some rich and original typefaces, including Cocon, which worked bizarrely well in an early online-captioning trial, and Balance, which sits in an aristocracy of two with Antique Olive as typefaces that are weighted more at the top than the bottom.

Screenshot showing curved stroke endings of Cocon typeface

I’ve been thinking more about this in the wake of the Peter Saville podcast. After much rumination, I have finally come to understand his tone of voice in that recording. It is a voice like Richard E. Grant’s in The Player, one that is disillusioned and disabused of all dreams and aspirations. A man who, from the word go, achieved personal expression by illustrating other bands’ concert posters and album covers eventually gives in and admits that he and other designers were always in the thrall of clients all along.

Saville’s was one of the few pre-Web examples of true personal work in graphic design. But according to his revisionism masquerading as the voice of experience, setting aside for the moment that the actual voice is riven with fear, impatience, and bitterness, if you’re trying to communicate on your own then you aren’t a graphic designer anymore. You’re a writer or a philosopher or something else. And if you’re an especially pathetic sort, you will fritter away your time with kids’ stuff like “alphabets.” (And the sole practicing ginger homosexualist Web designer will back you up.)

Evert Bloemsma showed that you could write a whole song in a typeface. I don’t think people were even remotely close to understanding just how advanced his designs were when Bloemsma, a health buff, keeled over from a heart attack. I know this may end up mouldering on my pile of semi-completed, semi-abandoned projects, but I am looking for help in locating original materials about Bloemsma. The big problem is that a lot of them will be in Dutch; I am appealing especially to my many Dutch-speaking readers for help in this regard.

To start off with, does anyone know who is taking care of his estate? And why his Web site isn’t still up? That sort of ghostly remnant should carry on indefinitely after death, should it not?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.02.15 16:46. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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