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Questions For: Brian Lawler

Cal Poly professor and Shakespeare Press Museum faculty adviser

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NEW TIMES How long have you been involved with the Shakespeare Press Museum?

BRIAN LAWLER I’ve been the adviser for just a few years, but I have been involved since 1969, on and off. I was the second student curator ever. Then, over the years I have volunteered, helped out, and have been involved with the museum. Now I am the adviser.

 

NEW TIMES What is the Shakespeare Press Museum?

LAWLER The museum is a collection of working printing machines. The oldest machine we have may be as old as 1840. The other thing we have is about 620 drawers of metal and wooden type. A lot of it is incredibly rare and some are just basic type.

 

NEW TIMES I read that you were in the process of digitalizing the type. How is it going?

LAWLER I’ve done 12, and they are about ready. Type design is a tough thing. It is fun, and takes a certain personality. I guess I have that personality.

 

NEW TIMES What is the process of digitalizing this antique wooden and metal type?

LAWLER It starts with scanning, but then I have to redraw them. So I draw them from the ground up; they start fresh. You have to use Adobe Illustrator and draw letter by letter. When you get to the end of the lower case, you’ve drawn 26 letters. You give out a big sigh, but then you realize there are 26 caps. Then you do those, realize there are numerals, punctuations, and accent letters. When you actually finish, there are 340 characters in a type font, and you have to draw them all. It is just overwhelming, but there is a certain pleasure to it. You get addicted to type font design.

 

NEW TIMES Can the public come and view the museum, or is it only available to Cal Poly students?

LAWLER We keep it open to the public. I am unsure of the schedule this quarter. Usually they are open two days a week, for a couple of hours.

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