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Alumni Profile: Richard Kegler

Posted: February 15, 2012

It is said that handwriting reveals much about one’s personality. By creating highly stylized, easily accessible computer fonts, Richard Kegler, ’88, has helped countless graphic designers add personality to their work with just a few keystrokes.

“My own handwriting has always been atrocious,” Kegler said with a laugh. “So taking historical letterforms and transforming them into digital tools for a large audience has been a fascinating challenge.”

And a successful challenge, too. As president and lead designer of P22 Type Foundry, Kegler turned a small, Buffalo-based start-up into an internationally famed producer of fonts. Using scripts from historical figures, noted artists, and celebrated art movements, P22’s designs have graced everything from CD covers to illustrations in Harry Potter novels and have been widely used by such companies as Starbucks, Warner Brothers, and Random House.

P22 has received commissions from such prominent museums and galleries as the Guggenheim, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the London Transport Museum, and its fonts can be found in gift shops around the globe. The company has been profiled in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and leading design publications.

While P22’s focus is firmly rooted in the digital medium, Kegler’s work at Buffalo State was centered on the tactile: specifically book arts and bookbinding.

“A guest visitor to my papermaking class inspired me to try my hand at traditional bookbinding,” said Kegler. “I felt a connection with the handmade that I didn’t feel with other media.”

That original inspiration has returned in Kegler’s latest venture, the Western New York Book Arts Center (WNYBAC). Part storefront, part gallery, and fully functional community-use printshop, WNYBAC is dedicated to preserving the craft of letterpress printing and bookmaking by hand.

Founded by Kegler and his wife and business partner, Carima El-Behairy, WNYBAC provides educational programming and hard-to-find resources for aspiring book artisans as well as free open hours for downtown visitors.

“It’s been a huge project with challenges I would have never imagined,” said Kegler. “But thanks to a great cadre of volunteers, interns, board, and staff, we’ve established WNYBAC as a cultural destination in just a few short years.”

Kegler recently added another title to his lengthy résumé—filmmaker. His documentary, Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century, captures the work process of the late Canadian graphic artist Jim Rimmer, with whom Kegler collaborated to create the first-ever combination digital and hand-set metal font. The film documents the exacting process required to create a single letter of this new typeface.

Since it premiered at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in March, the film has been screened at type festivals and conferences in cities from San Francisco to Budapest.

“The response to the film tells me that it has succeeded in being far more than just a specialist ‘geek’ documentary on type design and manufacturing,” said Kegler. “The appreciation shown to the ‘handmade’ and the personality of the film’s subject is really gratifying.”

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