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Jon Melton

Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Art
Areas of Expertise:
Graphic design and typography
Courses taught:

Jon is a graphic designer who specialises in type design. His practice-based research explores the empty spaces in typographic evolution, in order to develop new letterforms and speculative fonts that further our understanding of display and ornamented types. His recent research focused on the origins of sans serif type. He is developing a typeface based upon the seventeenth-century engravers’ typography found on the maps of John Ogilby, and currently designing a new Bifurcated Bodoni typeface that bridges the divide between neoclassical transitional and gothic revival Tuscan typography of the early nineteenth century. Jon is heavily engaged in completing a number of his research typefaces into commercially available fonts.

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View Jon's ResearchGate profile


Graduating from art school back in the mid-eighties, Jon furthered his professional training in industry as an advertising art director and designer, working on major brands for clients including: Tesco, Lotus Cars, Manchester United, Mirror Group Newspapers, Purdey Shotguns, UEA, Coventry University, and Anglia Television.

Throughout his career, Jon has worked alongside or in collaboration with some of the more influential design groups of the 80's and 90s, such as Trickett and Webb, Negas+Negas, and Robinson Lambie-Nairn. 

Although specialising in graphic design Jon has, over the years, worked on a diverse range of design projects that also includes furniture, interior and architectural feature design. He headed his own design practice working for regional and London-based clients, and was appointed as a visiting lecturer at the Cambridge School of Art back in 1996, before accepting the post of course leader for BA (Hons) Graphic Design from 2001 to 2021.

As a Senior Lecturer at ARU, Jon now concentrates upon type design, with research font production that contributes to the School's profile for excellence in typographic research - within a Visual Communications programme that has a growing reputation for commercial design practice.

Jon completed his Master's degree in Typographic Design in 2007, being awarded distinction for his postgraduate research into the categorising and contextualising of display and ornamented types of the 19th century. His typographic time travelling is particularly concerned with the late 18th and early 19th century periods and the Victorian age of exuberance in design tastes and mannerisms.

Through investigative practice he has generated a number of typefaces that explore the potential of historically inspired letterforms in contemporary contexts. Often this work seeks to revive traditional good practice in typography. Jon's font generation and historical research leads him to speak at conferences both nationally and internationally, with papers published in industry magazines and journals. 

Currently, Jon is engaged in research that explores the origins of Christian glyphs and early gothic symbolism; the typographic communications of the seventeenth-century and the primitivist origins of serif-less letters.

He has recently completed a chapter for Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century published by Liverpool University Press in 2020; and he is investigating through practice-based research, the diverse historical contexts for the source of sans serif type - such as the engraved serif-less forms published by Piranesi, Sir William Hamilton, and Johann Joachim Winckelmann, and the inscriptional forms drawn by Sir John Soane and John Flaxman.

Research interests
  • Type design
  • Typographic and printing history
  • Graphic design ephemera
  • 18th- and 19th-century applied arts
  • Historical building period details
  • MA Typographic Design, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Cert Ed PCE, Anglia Ruskin University
Memberships, editorial boards
  • The Centre for Printing History and Culture
  • John Baskerville Society (of Researchers), Birmingham
  • The Typographic Hub, Birmingham City University
  • The Printing Historical Society, London
  • Design Research Group (Typography), ARU, Cambridge
  • ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) Europe
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • Type design and commercial fonts
  • Freelance graphic design
  • Historical buildings period detail - drawings, design and consultancy
Selected recent publications

Melton, J., 2020. The Serif-Less Letters of John Soane. In: Archer-Parré, C., Dick, M. (Eds.), 2020. Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press), pp. 215-228.

Melton, J., 2020. ETRVSCA - Bishop Sans. In: Baker, S., Boyer, J., Jeeves, N., Kobin, T. (Eds.), 2020. Ways of Thinking (Cambridge: Ruskin Arts Publications), pp. 31-34.

Melton, J., 2011. Sir John Soane: a Classical Architype. Ultrabold, 9, pp. 4-10. St Bride Library, St Bride Foundation Institute, London.

Selected recent exhibitions

Melton, J., (exhibitor), 2023. Large broadsheet type specimen of ETRVSCA Sans and Infographic of the Development of Serifless Type in the eighteenth-century. Then&Now Exhibition, Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge School of Art, ARU.

Melton, J., (exhibitor), 2012. Classic Soane. Type specimen. Hill, W. (Curator), 2012. Types for the New Century Exhibition. The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, London, May 2012. Travelling (2012-13) to: University of the West of England, Bristol; Northumbria University Newcastle; Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University; Bauhaus University Wiemar; Museum for Druck-Kunst, Leipzig.

Melton, J., (exhibitor), 2010. EMF type specimen calling cards. CPHC - Type Tart Card Exhibition, Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge School of Art, ARU.

Melton, J., (exhibitor), 2009. EMF type specimen calling cards. Type Tart Card Exhibition. KK Outlet Gallery (KesselsKramer), Hoxton, London.

Melton, J., (exhibitor), 2007. English Open and Empire Initials, type specimens. Type Plus – Moving Type Conference and Exhibition. Custard Factory, Birmingham.

Online repository REF submission publications

Melton, J., 2022. Ogilby – the infographic traveller. Journal contribution/online article (not yet available).

Melton, J., 2021. ETRVSCA Sans – Font Typeface and Type Specimens, and Development of Serif-Less Type – Timeline Infographic Poster. Design large broadsheet type specimens.

Melton, J., 2021. Piranesi’s Initials – Type Specimen and Piranesi's Initials – Information Graphic. Design type specimens.

Melton, J., 2021. Bishop Sans Full Type Specimen. Design broadsheet type specimen.

Melton, J., 2020. The Serif-Less Letters of John Soane. Chapter, in full colour. Download from Figshare.

Melton, J., 2020. ETRVSCA – Bishop Sans. Chapter with type specimen.

Melton, J., 2019. Sans Serif Bishop Marks from 1673. Presentation.

Melton, J., 2018. The True source of the Sans. Presentation.

Typeface fonts used in publication

Arthur, B., 2011. How Britain Won the War of 1812 (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer). Empire Initials Font, front and back cover design.

Canning, H., 2010. Russian Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. BBC Music magazine, June issue. Russian Revolt Font, front cover and pp. 30-35.

Hill, W., 2010. The Complete Typographer (London: Thames and Hudson). Empire Initials Specimen picture, pp. 95.

Recent presentations and conferences

Melton, J., 2019. San serif Bishop Marks from 1673. Presentation. TypeThursday London, (Cambridge Symposium) 9 May 2019.

Melton, J., 2018. The True source of the Sans. Presentation. ATypI 18 Antwerp - Type Legacies Conference 11-15 September 2018. Published lecture online January 2019.

Melton, J., 2016. Revolting Sans. Presentation. The Song of the Sans Serif Symposium, 30 September 2016, School of Visual Communication, Birmingham City University, Birmingham.

Melton, J., 2015. A Man of Letters - Soane’s Typographic Vocabulary. Presentation. Beauty of Letters Conference, 14-15 March 2015, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

Melton, J., 2014. The Typographic Traveller. Paper. Landmarks in Printing Conference, 13-14 November 2014, Printing Historical Society, St Bride Library, St Bride Foundation Institute, London.

Melton, J., 2010. Soane - a Classical Architype. Paper, DIY Design Conference, St Bride’s Library, St Bride Foundation Institute, London.