Jim Rimmer

Jim Rimmer (1934—2010) was once referred to as ‘one of Canada’s most remarkable typographic figures’. To say that he was a consummate illustrator, graphic designer, type designer, printer, teacher and mentor seems only to scratch the surface. Perhaps Jim might best be described as a modern-day book arts magus, someone who studied hard to unveil the ancient mysteries of books and printing and was generous enough to invite others along on his journey.

Jim was born in Vancouver and spent most of his life in British Columbia. At sixteen he undertook a six-year apprenticeship with a local printer and publisher, J. W. Boyd and Sons. He graduated to become a journeyman compositor and spent seven years working for newspapers such as the Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun and the Williams Lake Tribune. By 1972 Rimmer had established his own freelance design office, and until 1999 worked as a commercial illustrator, graphic designer and type designer.

When he wasn’t teaching drawing or typography at local colleges or universities, Jim was tinkering on some new project. In 1974 he founded Pie Tree Press, named after an old apple tree in his backyard whose fruit was used to make pies. Rimmer printed various broadsides and books at Pie Tree, always studying to improve his technique.

Jim’s other great legacy is typographic. He designed and cut his first typeface, Juliana Old Style, in 1980. After that, Jim designed, engraved and cast nine fonts in metal, and founded the Rimmer Type Foundry in 1998. In 2004, he completed the first engraving and casting of Carl Dair’s Cartier face in metal. And Jim designed numerous digital fonts as well, many of which are available from P22 Type Foundry. One can only hope that these fonts will be studied and used by type aficionados for many years to come.

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.