David Wolske is a typo/graphic artist who uses a combination of contemporary and historical processes to transform letters, numbers, and punctuation into visual poetry. By masking and isolating typographic components, he reimagines antique fonts, inventing a new vocabulary. His abstractions use color and negative space to communicate the more emotional aspects of written language while inviting the viewers to create their own interpretations.
Wolske’s cross-disciplinary practice combines digital design tools with the traditions of letterpress and fine art printmaking,. He has two distinct modes of working. At times he works under clear formal rules executed using controlled methods, translating his digital compositions into print on a Vandercook cylinder proofing press with his collection of antique wood and metal types. The predictable nature of this approach gives the artist and his work a sense of mastery. However, he will also improvise at the press with no preconceived notions. This strategy is rooted in curiosity and wonder. Its unpredictable nature leads to learning and discovery and continuously drives his practice forward.
Blending new and old technologies is ultimately about working with the building blocks of language, which themselves are an ancient, continuously evolving technology. Wolske invented a printing technique and named it isotype printing, a portmanteau of the words isolate and type. This technique allows him to mask and separate components of letterforms, deconstructing language to the extent that meaning is shifted. By using formal elements of type, like stems, bowls, and serifs, he transforms text into a new kind of tool for communication. The resulting prints offer conceptual dichotomies such as control/chaos, symmetry/asymmetry, and harmony/dissonance.
By deconstructing language to express a more visceral form of communication, Wolske’s work playfully subverts the relationship between the hand and the machine. Viewers are often surprised when they learn or realize that the deceptively simple shapes they see in these enigmatic compositions are remixed letters and numbers. By abstracting the alphabet, Wolske transforms the ordinary, or even banal, into something new and unexpected.