Jack Stauffacher: Master of Types

Renowned printer, typographer, and founder of the Greenwood Press in San Francisco in conversation with friends and collaborators.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


June 16, 2012 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

A self-taught printer, typographer, book designer, and craftsman, Jack Stauffacher (who is of Swiss origin) has fostered a lifelong fascination with the craft of printing and is widely considered to be one of the preeminent letterpress printers and book designers in the Bay Area. Stauffacher’s enthusiasm for the craft of printing and the potential of the printed word began at a young age. In 1936 he established the Greenwood Press, named after the street on which it was located, in a small building that he and his father built behind the family home in San Mateo. In 1947 he started operating out of San Francisco’s North Beach, where he’s still located today.

Stauffacher works in the letterpress tradition but also experiments with typographical conventions, using traditional woodblock letterforms and words that produce graduated typographic patterns and shapes. Several of his compositions using wood and metal type are in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Stanford University Library.

swissnex San Francisco is honored to show off some of Stauffacher’s work in conjunction with the Types We Can Make exhibit. Included are a portfolio of letterpress typography and photography prints done in collaboration with photographer Dennis Letbetter, along with individual typographic prints and books.

Stauffacher will discuss his experimental process in conversation with Chuck Byrne, a designer, writer, and teacher; Pino Trogu, Assistant Professor of Information Design at San Francisco State University; and photographer Dennis Letbetter.

“Jack Stauffacher describes himself as a printer. It is a somewhat deceptive term for us today. His use of the term connects him to a five-hundred-year tradition of the entrepreneur-publisher-designer-typographer-printer. Like the best who made up that custom, he possesses a love of type and printing and the ability to convey meaningful words and thought.”

—Chuck Byrne, “Jack Stauffacher, Printer,” Emigre Magazine, February, 1998

*This event is part of SF Design Week.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  presentations and Q&A
7:30 pm  exhibition viewing, reception, networking
9:30 pm  doors close


Jack Stauffacher

In 1936, Jack Stauffacher established the Greenwood Press. After receiving a Fulbright grant he studied in Florence, Italy. There he met master printers Giovanni Mardersteig and Alberto Tallone, whose work and ideas influenced him profoundly. After his return to the U.S., he became assistant professor of typographic design at Carnegie Mellon. His work led to the formation of the New Laboratory Press. He went on to become typographic director at Stanford University Press and to teach at Carnegie Mellon University and the San Francisco Art Institute. Stauffacher was added to the distinguished list of AIGA medalists in 2004 and his works are in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Stanford University Library. Much of his life and work is documented in the book A Typographic Journey / The History of the Greenwood Press published by the Book Club of California in 1999.


Chuck Byrne

Chuck Byrne has been a member of the design faculty at the University of Cincinnati and the California College of the Arts and recently retired from San Jose State University after teaching graphic design there for 17 years. His design work has appeared in CA, Idea, ID, Graphis, and PRINT. He has written for PRINT, EYE, the AIGA Journal and Emigre magazines and is one of the authors of San Francisco Architecture. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of Design, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museum, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts Archives at the Denver Art Museum. Additionally, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago have included his work in exhibits. Currently his work is on view in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, “The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area.”


Pino Trogu

Pino Trogu is Assistant Professor of Information Design at San Francisco State University. He grew up on the island of Sardinia, Italy, where his father, who was a mason, taught him how to lay bricks in a straight line. He holds a diploma in Industrial Design from the Istituto d’Arte of Oristano and a BFA in Graphic Design from the Istituto Superiore Industrie Artistiche, Urbino, Italy. In the US, he studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, which he attended on a Fulbright scholarship. He has been on the faculty at San Francisco State University since 2007, where he has taught classes in 2D and 3D basic design, drawing, exhibit design, and information design. A self-described generalist, teaching to both graphic design and product design students, he might be working with drawing, letterpress, or bookbinding in the morning and exhibit design, information design, or data visualization in the afternoon.


Dennis Letbetter

Dennis Letbetter is a widely exhibited photographer and a San Francisco resident since 1978. His work has been published worldwide and covers many genres including an ongoing series of panoramic cityscapes in America, South America, Russia, Europe and Japan. He worked with Jack Stauffacher on the Vico Collaborations and is known for his compelling collection of portraits of the most creative Bay Area artists, using black and white film in an 8 x 10 inch camera.




Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos