Monday, March 25, 2013

Thank you, William Reuter!

Will Rueter Receives Robert R. Reid Award
Howard Greaves, Will Rueter, and Ralph Stanton at SFU Vancouver on March 21, 2013.

Last night I felt truly blessed listening to William Reuter accepting the Robert R. Reid Award and Medal for lifetime achievement. It was an honour for the Alcuin Society to have William Reuter among us and share with us some of his thoughts.
First, Board Member Ralph Stanton made a brief presentation, highlighting Reuter’s achievements, after which Board Chair Howard Greaves presented him the award. But before that we got to know William better, in the form of an interview, more like an informal conversation between him and Rollin Milroy, from Heavenly Monkey, who skilfully guided the discussion and put him at ease. There couldn’t have been a more pleasant way to feature Reuter’s wonderful knowledge and personality.

Reuter revealed himself as what he really is, a Renaissance Man, with interests varying from graphic design, bookbinding, typography, calligraphy to music, and teaching. He founded his private press, the Aliquando Press in 1963. His commitment to his work is summed up by Terentianus’ words, that he exquisitely printed to celebrate fifty years of Aliquando activity: “The fate of books depends on the capacity of the reader.” But to understand his relationship with letterpress and printing, there is no better way than quoting his own words: 
“Making books allows me to identify myself with the press, it brings the best in me. It becomes like a salvation.”
His knowledge and dedication can only be eclipsed by his bubbly personality, joie de vivre and sense of humour. When asked about the importance of rendering letters by hand, he talked about his adventures in lettering, also admitting that being left-handed always got in the way, “always fighting the urge to fling my left hand over my shoulder.” But he acknowledged that the profound understanding of letters and their relationships comes from drawing.
Another inspiration in Reuter’s life and work is music. He considers “printing is music in a visual kind of way. You need music in order to print.” Reuter creates an analogy between letterpress and various musical instruments: you can feel each impression on paper the same as each instrument has its own voice and tuning. This brings on another confession: 
“I have great frustration with music: I tried to build a harpsichord and this is when I discovered I have no talent in working with wood.”
The whole evening was a well-deserved homage to a wonderful man, an artisan of printing and lover of letterpress and private press. Thank you very much, William Reuter, for being among us and letting us in on your thoughts, your beliefs, your witticisms.

- Lumi Constantin

Photos from the evening of Will Rueter's Robert R. Reid award presentation.


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