Jim Rimmer’s shop is nestled in a yard behind his Victorian house on a quiet street in a suburb of Vancouver, BC. A quaint letterpress placard on the door instructs visitors to walk around. The entrance is graced by a type specimen of Duensing Titling, carved in stone by Rimmer. A tour of this hard working shop, along with work samples and stories shared by Rimmer, makes it clear why he is considered a living national treasure in Canada. There just aren’t many people who can cast type any more, and even fewer who can take the mere idea of a font then bring that idea to form in lead, tin and antimony, ready to print once it cools off. When Fred Goudy was doing such a thing for his Village Press, he had a lot of equipment and craftsmen ready to lend well-trained, experienced hands.
Rimmer has a network of typecasters through the American Typecasting Fellowship (despite the name, an international group) that share ideas and technical knowledge in keeping this craft alive, and member Rich Hopkins sums up Rimmer’s very special skill set: “Jim is truly unique in that he has such an “instant” design flair and has a mastery of all those neat devices he uses in cutting his types.”
In 2006, after 50 years of printing, designing, typecasting and teaching Rimmer was joined by friends and colleagues to celebrate, complete with an introduction by Robert Bringhurst. Dubbed “Rimmerfest”, the event marked Jim Rimmer’s contributions to a craft he continues to keep vital.
Following is a Q&A interview. Also check out Bob McCamant’s article on Jim Rimmer as well as excerpts from Rimmer’s autobiographical book “Leaves from the Pie Tree.”