A Man of Many Words

Shutterstock gives Shakespearean vocabulary the typographic treatment

“If lettering be the food of love, type on.”

This Thursday, we are proud to host the opening reception of Presenting Shakespeare: Much Ado About Posters, a global collection of posters for various productions of William Shakespeare‘s works in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. And while the Bard was a man of histories, comedies and tragedies, of sonnets, quatrains, couplets and iambic pentameter, of devices, puns, irony and foreshadowing, above all, he was a man of words. Though exactly how many words Shakespeare coined is still contested, he is the forefather of a pretty chunk of the English language. With a brave sense of possibility, he cleaved words with suffixes and prefixes; he made nouns dance into verbs, and verbs into adjectives; and he thought up entirely new words, many of which remain comfortably nestled in our vocabulary today.

In conjunction with ADC and Monotype‘s Typography and Lettering Month, as well as our Shakespearean exhibition, our friends and global partners at Shutterstock have combined both to create Man of Words: A Shakespeare Alphabet, an illustrated and lettered A to Z collection of words coined by the Bard.



Using assets from their collection, Shutterstock’s design team captured Shakespeare’s immense and enduring lexicon. Some words have become obsolete, such as kitchen-wench; others like juiced have morphed with the cultural landscape; and still others have stayed true to their origin for four centuries, like invitation. Through clever typography, the series captures the great variety and ingenuity of Shakespeare’s words.

Alas, even the Bard couldn’t invent a word beginning with ‘X’, but Shutterstock designers Kate Crotty, Philippe Intraligi, Mike Kim, Alice Lee, Brandon Lee, Flo Lau and Michael Wong certainly got their money’s worth out of the other 25 letters of the alphabet. By the way, “money’s worth” is a phrase also attributed to Shakespeare. Unreal, isn’t it? Oh, and so is “unreal”.

Presenting Shakespeare: Much Ado About Posters opens with a reception this Thursday, May 5, 6PM–8PM at the ADC Gallery.