Glenn Goluska

Glenn Goluska (1947 – 2011) loved lead type, but he probably loved wood type more. Because wood type is a display type and not a text type, there are not many opportunities to use it when designing books for trade publishers. One fine example might be seen in Journal by bpNichol, designed for the Coach House Press in 1978. Wood type was used on the cover (front and back) and throughout to mark the various sections. This book won an AIGA Award in 1979.

When used at all, wood type is usually confined to the title page. Goluska managed to satisfy his urge to use wood type in the text of a few of the pamphlets published by Imprimerie Dromadaire, his private press. My favourite is A Change-ringing of the Mind by Velimir Khlebnikov (1978), followed by Liebhaber’s Wood Type by Robert Kroetsch (1987) and Typographic Facts by El Lissitzky (1985). The poster The Bicycle by Fernand Léger (1985) stands above all, in my view, for its stunning use of wood type to form the bicycle and rider.

But this is not the story I want to tell.

The most interesting uses of wood type, and possibly least known, were even more personal. Glenn used wood type in invitations to parties that he and his then wife, Anne, held—for example, their annual Thanksgiving parties. The most spectacular use as an invitation was for a Fourth of July Party in 1976. The sheet measures 54 cm by 45.5 cm and must have required two passes through Glenn’s press.

From the mid 1970s to the late 1980s Goluska lived in three different houses near Spadina Avenue and Harbord Street in Toronto. Moving called for yard sales. Here Goluska put his beloved wood type to its traditional use, one that had not been seen in Toronto before, or since. Glenn created exceptional posters advertising his yard sales and tacked them up around the neighbourhood. These were far more interesting than the hand-scrawled signs one usually encounters. I don’t know whether they stayed up until after the sale date or were quickly removed by passing collectors of good design. I am fortunate to have two of these because Goluska, with his foresight, gave them to me in order to protect the ones he put up from my collecting instinct.

—Chester Gryski

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