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Craig Eliason


Art History

  • Expertise
  • Modern art, design, and aesthetics

Craig Eliason’s current research focuses on the history of typography and type design. He is focused on the history of the production and reception of so-called “modern-face” types, which emerged in the late eighteenth century. He has also published on the history of the labels used to classify printing types in the modern period. His earlier research investigated the theoretical and practical relationships between the Dada and Constructivist movements in the 1920's, particularly in the career of Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg.

Typeface Designs

Ambicase Modern, 2010.

Ambicase Fatface, 2011.

  • Selected for “Call for Type: NeueSchriften/New Typefaces” exhibition, Gutenberg Museum, Mainz, Germany, 2013.

Backflip (formerly Flipper), in production.

  • Earned Honorable Mention, Morisawa Type Design Competition, Tokyo, Japan, 2014.

Strooptest, in development.

  • Selected for “Text, Type, Typography” exhibition, California Marymount University, San Pedro, 2016–17.


"Insights into Modern Art: Dolly Fiterman Collection." OEC Lobby Gallery, University of St. Thomas, January 17-May 26, 2013

“Founding Zero.” Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities, University of Texas, Austin, October-November, 2010

“Face the Nation: How National Identity Shaped Modern Typeface Design.” Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, July 12–September 21, 2008

“Renovation: UST Chapels After Sacrosanctum Concilium.” OEC Lobby Gallery, University of St. Thomas, October 11-31, 2003

Fellowships and Grants

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas Limited Editions Club Endowment Fellowship, 2009–10

Houghton Library, Harvard University Katherine F. Pantzer Jr. Fellowship in Descriptive Bibliography, 2009–10

Recent Research Presentations

Stanford University Face/Interface: Type Design and Human-Computer Interaction Beyond the Western World Palo Alto, CA 2017 “The Picasso Effect: How ‘Exotic’ Scripts Catalyzed Bodoni’s Modern-Face Types”

Drexel University Fashion and Media Symposium Philadelphia, 2017 “Idealization and Didot, the Fashion Font”

College Art Association New York, 2017 “MoMA and the Accession of Digital Type Designs”

Art Historians of the Twin Cities St. Paul, 2016 “Haute Couture, Neoclassical Aesthetics, and the Roots of Didot Type”

Association Typographique Internationale (ATypl)
 Amsterdam, 2013

"The History of 'Humanist' Types" College Art Association Annual Meeting New York, 2013

“Typeface Classification and the Chinese Encyclopedia of Borges"

"Putting Design in Boxes: The Problem of Taxonomy" panel chair American Printing History Association Chicago, 2012

“Inventing ‘Ambicase’ Letters" TypeCon2012
 Milwaukee, 2012

“Students as Rasterizers" TypeCon2010
 Los Angeles, CA, 2010

“Type History in Transition: The Emergence of the 'Transitional' Label for Type Designs” TypeCon2009
 Atlanta, GA, 2009
 “Why ‘Humanist’ Type?”

Recent Lectures

Ampersand Club Minneapolis, MN, 2017 “The Intersections of Type Design and Visual Culture, 1500-1800”

Selim Center for Lifelong Learning University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, 2011 “Painting in the United States”

Collectors' Forum Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN, 2011 “Classifying Printing Types: Maximilien Vox and the Power of Suggestion"

Design Lecture Series University of Texas, Austin, TX, 2010 “Classifying Printing Types: Maximilien Vox and the Power of Suggestion”

Book Arts Roundtable Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN, 2008 “The Place of Letters”

ACTC Art History Symposium Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN, 2008 “Equivocally Modern Letters: Gill Sans and the Origin of the Humanist Sans Serif”


“Pathos” [typeface review] Typographica. http://typographica.org/typeface-reviews/pathos/ (posted July 5, 2017).

“‘Transitional’ Typefaces: The History of a Typefounding Classification,” Design Issues 31 no. 4 (Autumn 2015): 30–43.

“A History of the ‘Humanist’ Type Classification,” Printing History new series no. 18 (July 2015): 3–26.

“Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive by Sandra Chamaret, Julien Gineste, and Sébastien Morlighem” [book review] Design and Culture 4 no. 2 (July 2012): 254-256.

“Uppercase, Lowercase, Unicase: The Making of Ambicase Modern,” Codex: The Journal of Typography no. 1 (Spring 2011): 94–105.

“Adrian Frutiger Typefaces: The Complete Works by Heidrun Osterer and Philipp Stamm; José Mendoza y Almeida by Martin Majoor and Sébastien Morlighem” [book review] Design and Culture 3 no. 1 (March 2011): 130–33.

“‘All the Serious Men are Sick’: Van Doesburg, Mondrian, and Dada,” Simiolus 34 no. 1 (2009-2010): 50-55.

“Theo van Doesburg: Italian Futurist?” In The Low Countries: Crossroads of Cultures, ed. Ton Broos, Margriet Bruyn Lacy, and Thomas F. Shannon (Münster: Nodus, 2006), 47-56.

“Manifestoes by Mail: Postcards from the Theo van Doesburg Correspondence,” Visual Resources, 17 no. 4 (Dec. 2001): 449–458.

“De conferenties van 1922: Tristan Tzara als Van Doesburgs saboteur” [The Conferences of 1922: Tristan Tzara as Van Doesburg's Saboteur], Jong Holland (The Hague) 16 no. 2 (Spring 2000), 31–37, 66–67.