Michael Harvey: Type designer

Source: Barker, N. (2013).Michael Harvey: Type designer inspired by Gill. Independent. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/mich…

Tisdall Script (Michael Harvey, Fine Fonts)

Michael Harvey created Tisdall Script in collaboration with Benedik. Harvey was inspired by Gill into being lettercutter. His works are seen in Cathedraws and in various public buildings. In small scale his works are seen in many book jacket covers. Hans Tisdall brush-drawn script writing inspired Harvey into creating Tisdall Script. Harvey admired Tisdall’s works for a long time and when he Hans died, Harvey sought to restore the work and with the approval of the widow, he created Tisdall Script. The script has inspired many people since it was formed especially the ability of Harvey to embrace technology. This has led to the formation of many other scripts. Although the script had a competitive advantage over competitors when it was created, the ever-developing technology has led to the formation of other scripts that are more attractive and easy to use. This has led to the creation of an improved version of the script that is currently competing with the emerging scripts.

Michael Harvey was born in 1931 and died in 2013. Harvey was a teacher, and a writer who specialized in letter cutting, type design, and lettering. Harvey’s works are seen in London on the National Gallery and in several English Cathedrals. The building model airplanes and the Battle of Britain are some of Harvey’s earliest memories. On small scale, Harvey’s work is seen on many book jackets. He believed that letter shapes need to match the purpose they are required to fulfil. In his work, he ensured that what he drew or carved was added his personal opinion on the messages that were intended. Cathedrals among other buildings such as the Little Sparta garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay are decorated by Harvey’s work on stones which involved giving concrete form to conceptual art words. Harvey was born in Surrey. Harvey showed interest in making model and in printing early enough and in 1947 when he left Ewell Castle School he turns out to be an engineering draughtsman. He later specialised in calligraphy, drawing, letter carving, typography, and type design. His first type face to be released by the Ludlow Typograph Company was in 1964 in Chicago (Barker, 2013). Later on he designed many typefaces including producing designs for the Monotype Corporation, for Adobe systems, and later Fine Fonts in partnership with Benedek Andy for his foundry.

Andy Benedek and Michael Harvey.

Source: Barker, N. (2013). Michael Harvey: Type designer inspired by Gill. Independent. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/mich…

Tisdall Script inspiration is from Hans Tisdall brush-drawn script writing. Harvey had long admired the style of Tisdall and with the blessing of the widow he designed the typographic tribute. Hans Tisdall was a painter, an illustrator, and a painter. He was born in Munich in 1910. His mother was an artist and was popularly known for being a textile designer. He even taught in various school in the school of painting and of Textile design. In 1949, he produced the finest design for the Art of the Book Jacket cover. Later he was involved in the production of other many designs. Tisdall died in 1997. His works inspired Harvey into designing letter book jackets. This led to designing of the Tisdall Script in Fine Arts in 2001 (Barker, 2013). The autography of Eric Gill originally inspired Harvey into letter cutting. The inspiration from Gill made Harvey build a career in designing typefaces, designing book jackets, and carving inscriptions. Fine Fonts was established with a purpose of tapping the creative skills of Harvey and Benedek. He had previously been successful in designing numerous typefaces. This also played a part in inspiring the designing of the Tisdall Script.

Lettering by Hans Tisdall Source: Meseguer, L. (2016).Laura Loves Lettering on Book Covers. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from http://www.alphabettes.org/laura-loves-lettering-o…

The works of Tisdall Hans on textile designs and book jacket and especially Jonathan Cape led to the evolution of Tisdall Script. Jonathan Cape a typeface that was based on brushstroke style inspired Harvey to create the script. Harvey admired Tisdall’s works and this is what led to the evolution of Tisdall Script. The improved Tisdall Script the Plus Version include various alternative ligatures and characters and features of Opentype that allow for automatic substitution in case the application in which they are utilised authorises. Gill’s inspiration on Harvey also contributed to the evolution of Tisdall Script by inspiring Harvey to be a lettercutter including designing typefaces (Meseguer, 2016). Between the 1950s and 1960s, Tisdall Hans created prolific and unique lettered book jackets for the publishers in Jonathan Cape. Later on Fine Fonts inspired by Han’s work decided to restore his work of designs by creating Tisdall Script with the approval of Hans’ wife. The technicalities of the script are derived from one of Hans’ scripts and various alternative characteristics and ligatures maintain the freedom of Tisdall’s lettering. This is seen in the brushstroke style used in Tisdall Script.

The typefaces that Harvey designed to range from quirky novelty designs traced from a manuscript of the eighteenth century to large families like Ellington. The Tisdall Script shows the interest of Harvey in beautiful letters. His typeface has various impacts including inspiring many people who are interested in being lettercutters. Various organizations use the typeface to reproduce ads. Many historians who study letter cutting use Harvey’s work to gather more information. The type has also inspired many people who are interested in inscriptional lettering. Many students who attended Harvey’s lectures were inspired by how Harvey was fascinated by the brush letter style that he even decided to create Tisdall Script. These students developed a love for lettering book covers. Many artists who engage in lettering book covers acknowledge the influence of Harvey on their work. Additionally, the creation of Tisdall Script made people start appreciating the beauty of letters (Barker, 2013). People learnt the beauty of matching letters with the purpose in which they are used. This is why several other artists have created new scripts.

Script typefaces are commonly used for trade printing or for display. They are based on fluid stroke developed through handwriting. Most of the typefaces are have a closer imitation of handwriting. They place certain demands on printing technology especially when letters are required to join up and differ similarly to handwriting. A typeface that intends to imitate handwriting use alternate characters. In the advanced technology era, the once drawn typefaces are substituted by contextual ligature insertion in various applications such as InDesign. Historically, signwriting on shop frontages, displays and logos involved the use of lettering that had custom-designs. These were created by engravers and signpainters. However, the technology advancement has led to the evolution of script typefaces. The release of the OpenType format has also led to more sophisticated script fonts. With this technology, fonts possess a larger set of character improving the sophistication of possible design and insertion of context where characters that match each other are automatically inserted into a document for the fonts to realistically imitate handwriting eliminating the substitution of characters manually by a user (Barker, 2013). Majority of modern script typefaces imitate the lettering styles from various historical periods.

There are so many scripts that compete with Tisdall Script in the market. XXII YeahScript is a brush Script font that has various alternates that fits for various signpainter jobs. The script is designed for creating logos, text phrases, and headlines within a short time. The script involves just opening glyphspalette and the choosing the best alternates that is most appropriate to a certain creation. The availability of many linestrokes and swashes alternates help in completing unique design (Adrei, 2014). Lecter Johnson created the script in 2014. The excessive diversity of typographic features of the script provide an appropriate means of creating a unique design.

XXII YeahScript font designed by Johnson 2014.

Source: Adrei, (2014). XXII YeahScript. Kreative. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://www.kreativfont.com/xxii-yeahscript

Another script that is competing with Tisdall Script is Mission Script developed by Edmondson. The script is very slight in tilt and tall in x-height. Mission Script is one of the current competitors of Tisdall Script (De Sousa, 2013). While both Tisdall and Mission scripts have focuses on introducing beautiful fonts.

Mission Script developed by Edmondson.

Source: De Sousa, T. (2013). Mission Script: Typeface Review. Typographica. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://typographica.org/typeface-reviews/mission-…/

The scripts differ because of the technology advancement during the formation of each script. Mission Script has various advantages over Tisdall Script. These include having ample lowercase that allows the script to be read even at a smaller display size and at longer distances compared to Tisdall script. Although Tisdall comes with alternates useful for adding shape varieties, Mission scripts and other current scripts come with more alternates. Users can use the alternates to add shape variety to any text line. Although Tisdall Script is being challenged by current competitors, Harvey was drawn by technology and his typefaces drew him closer to the digital era. Although the current competitors have many alternates, at the time of formation, the script was the most popular for embracing technology in the digital era.

Tisdall Script designed by Harvey.

Source: Luc Devroye. (2018). Type Design Information. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-26297.html

The improved Tisdall Script the Plus Version now comes with very many alternates and together with Opentype features it allows for automatic substitution in case the application where they operate is allowed. The older version of the Tisdall Script is overwhelmed by the current scripts. However, the improved model takes advantage of the technology to have a competitive advantage over today’s competitors who are also taking advantage of the advancing technology to offer users the most appropriateand convenient script.


Adrei, (2014). XXII YeahScript. Kreative. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://www.kreativfont.com/xxii-yeahscript

Barker, N. (2013). Michael Harvey: Type designer inspired by Gill. Independent. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/michael-harvey-type-designer-inspired-by-gill-8916505.html

De Sousa, T. (2013). Mission Script: Typeface Review. Typographica. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from https://typographica.org/typeface-reviews/mission-script/

Harvey, M. (2012). Adventures with Letters: A Memoir by Michael Harvey. 47 Editions.

Luc Devroye. (2018). Type Design Information. Luc Devroye. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-26297.html

Meseguer, L. (2016). Laura Loves Lettering on Book Covers. Retrieved on 17 April 2018 from http://www.alphabettes.org/laura-loves-lettering-on-book-covers/