University of Reading to stage Emigre exhibition

The influence of the landmark US design magazine will be explored in Emigre magazine: design, discourse and authorship

Cover of Emigre 11, ‘Ambition/fear’, 1989

Reading’s Department of Typography & Graphic Communication is to host the exhibition, which will run from June 12 to July 14 and has been co-curated by Francisca Monteiro and Rick Poynor.

Co-founded in California in 1984 by Rudy VanderLans, Emigre was a provocative and highly adventurous fusion of self-publishing, critical writing and experimental typography. It was at the centre of a tumultuous period for graphic design when the impact of digital technology and questioning of the role of the designer led to fierce debate between the design establishment and an energetic new wave to whom Emigre gave a voice.

Interviews with April Greiman and Glenn Suokko in Emigre 11, ‘Ambition/fear’, 1989. The early issues of Emigre coincided with the adoption of Macintosh computers by graphic designers. Emigre 11 is devoted to a series of interviews with designers about the new tool. The magazine’s pages often offered multiple reading paths.

Emigre published 69 issues in a range of formats, from tabloid to paperback book, before closing in 2005. It was a pioneer of ‘indie’ magazines and perhaps (though VanderLans might shrink from the term) the ‘branded content’ model now so prevalent in publishing, as the magazine was supported and in part acted as a marketing channel for the Emigre type foundry and design studio.

Matrix by Zuzana Licko in Emigre type catalogue, 1989
‘A conversation with Edward Fella and Mr Keedy’ in Emigre 17, ‘Wise guys’, 1991. Interview and page design by Jeffery Keedy.

The Reading show will be divided into sections that reflect and examine the range of Emigre’s activities – Rudy VanderLans as editor; The Emigre type foundry led by Zuzana Licko; VanderLans as graphic author; the Emigre Music record label; Emigre as a space for collaborative authorship for designers and writers; Emigre considered in context.

Emigre magazine: design, discourse and authorship is at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, from June 12 to July 14. Details here. CR will publish an essay by Rick Poynor on the influence of Emigre on graphic design to coincide with the opening

Emigre 15, ‘Do you read me?’, 1990. This issue, focused on new typefaces and legibility, features typeface designs and interviews with Peter Mertens, Zuzana Licko, John Downer, Jeffery Keedy and Barry Deck, among others.