James Clough Signs of Italy


Whimsical and intuitive, original, humorous, improvised, elegant: Italian signs are a mirror of Italian society. What distinguishes the most interesting Italian signs and inscriptions is the variety of original letterforms.

Before typefaces and fonts dominated the scene, there was no standardization in Italy of letterforms for commercial signs and there were no printed manuals for signwriters. This freedom and detachment from standard models of letters as well as the craftsmanship and creativity of the signmakers and designers are what make Italian signs so extraordinary.

In this book, the Italian-based British designer, teacher and writer, James Clough, examines Italian signs within a historical perspective and from many standpoints. From the ornate Tuscan style of the 19th century to the eccentric letters of Art Nouveau, from the grandiose architectural lettering of the 1930s to the exquisite surviving examples of the old signwriters, from fascist ghost signs to lettering on manhole covers, Clough points out the highs and lows of this artistic expression as he takes readers on a fascinating lettering tour of Italy.

Text and illustrations by James Clough
Cover design by Luca Barcellona
Book design by Bunker

12 × 8½”
248 pages
Over 300 photographs
English edition
ISBN 978-88-98030-08-8
Available from 16 September 2015

In the Press


James Clough

Calligrafo e studioso londinese, ha studiato Typographic Design al London College of Printing. Ha lavorato come designer e calligrafo soprattutto a Milano, dove si è stabilito e vive a tuttoggi dal 1971. Insegna tipografia e storia della tipografia presso atenei italiani e svizzeri e ha curato l’allestimento di tre musei della stampa. Tiene conferenze in Italia, Inghilterra, Stati Uniti e Turchia. Scrive di tipografia per pubblicazioni italiane e internazionali, come Matrix, Eye, Codex tra le altre. Nel 2014 con Chiara Scattolin ha scritto Alfabeti di Legno, Luigi Melchiori e la storia dei caratteri di legno in Italia, pubblicato da Tipoteca Italiana.

James Clough is a Londoner and he studied typographic design at the London College of Printing. He works as a designer and calligrapher in Milan where he has been living since 1971. He teaches typography and its history in several Italian and Swiss universities and has lectured in Britain and the USA. He writes for Italian and international publications including Matrix, Eye and Codex. He is co-author of Alphabets of Wood, an illustrated history of Italian wood type published by the Tipoteca Italiana in 2014.