Joseph Churchward – New Zealand’s man of fonts

CoverIn the list of Queen’s Birthday Honours was the following Queen’s Service Medal:

Mr Joseph CHURCHWARD, of Wellington.
For services to typography.

With those letters, a man of letters was recognised, and honoured. Joseph has had an astonishing career. He has handcrafted over 570 original typefaces and this makes him the world’s most prolific typeface designer.

There was a lovely item celebrating him on TVNZ: More letters for NZ typographer. He talked about some of his fonts including Marianna, named after his daughter:

Mari­anna was fat in those days and it was a fat design … You were plumpy … it was plumpy.

Meena Kadri‘s article Full character set on Churchward, and the book about him by David Bennewith, reveals a character that New Zealand should cherish:

Unabated by less favour­able recep­tion to his typo­graphic endeav­ours, Church­ward has pur­sued unso­li­cited design work through­out his career. He dili­gently dis­patched these typo­graphic ‘sug­ges­tions’ to tele­vi­sion net­works, polit­ical parties and gov­ern­ment depart­ments. The book’s inclu­sion of some of the rejec­tion let­ters to this approach serve as a testi­mony of his ded­ic­a­tion to a life of let­ters and let­ter­forms – and amus­ingly includes a polite reply from the Rugby Union man­ager in 1998, set in Comic Sans.

Congratulations to Joseph on his well deserved honour.

Find out more at Christchurch City Libraries:

More about Joseph Churchward:

2 thoughts on “Joseph Churchward – New Zealand’s man of fonts

  1. richard 10 June 2010 / 10:43 am

    Fascinating – hand lettering is an amazing skill, and the Bennewith book looks as rich and varied as the typefaces.

  2. Janet Trossell 22 October 2017 / 2:12 am

    I arrived in New Zealand in September 1970, together with my husband as ‘Ten Pound Poms’. My husband already had a job to go to, with Union Steamship company, and he soon set sail to Australia. I was a graphic designer with a few years experience, and got a job at Joseph Churchward’s advertising studio. The staff were a varied bunch, very friendly, and I soon became ‘one of the team’. Joe was a ‘bit of a character’, and his type designs are absolutely amazing. I can still pick them out when reading the paper, adverts etc ‘there’s a Joe again’!
    I am very proud to have known him, and, moving on to an advertising agency I often specified Joe’s fonts (among others) to be used when working with visualisers.

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