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REVIEW: Thomas Phinney: Phont Detective

Written by
AIGA Chicago
Published
October 12, 2012
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Thomas Phinney: Phont Detective
Written by Stephanie Plenner

From the case of the reprehensible rabbi, to a forged will by a wicked step mother, to CBS documents criticizing George W. Bush before the 2004 presidential election, Thomas Phinney has made a name for himself as the Font Detective and came to Chicago to share his case book at Harrington College of Design. Phinney can decipher the fingerprint of a typewriter and determine the authenticity of documents printed with inkjet by their splat patterns. The average person may not know the difference between calligraphy and Monotype Corsiva, but when asked about his success rate, Phinney notes that when he is approached, suspicion is already high. With his wealth of typographic knowledge and bold logic, he has even gone so far as to create an entire font as his forensics tool.

After his Chicago lecture, Thomas Phinney will head to Hong Kong, Vegas and NYC for further talks and workshops. He currently resides in Portland and is the Senior Product Manager for Extensis. With his typophile pedigree and consultation requests from PBS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (to name a few), he might be ready for his own reality show. Bravo, I’m looking at you.

Stephanie Plenner is a Chicago-bred designer and writer. She works at the School of the Art Institute as Assistant Director of Instructional Design & Administration for Instructional Fabricaiton. Her side projects range from non-ficiton writing to performance and installation.

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