Arina Stoenescu

Lund University, Sweden


Communist typography in Romania 1948–1989: The education of typographers during the communist time and its legacy


The education of typographers in the territory of Romania (which became a sovereign state after the Great Union in 1918) followed, before the communist take-over, similar traditions as Western European countries. In Romania, that resulted in an open-minded guild with progressive ideas thanks to the intellectual tradition of craftsmanship. After the communist takeover in 1948, the education system for print-related professions changed radically as a result of the control that the new totalitarian power imposed on all printed materials and on the publishing system. The production means for the printing trade was centralised; the Casa Scînteii (Sparkle House) was built in the next decade which resembled the Moscow State University, and was named after the official newspaper of the Romanian Communist Party. The institution intended to gather in this building all of Bucharest’s printing presses, editorial staff, newsrooms and main publishing houses. A new school for typographers and printers started in 1949 and was located nearby Casa Scînteii. By comparing the findings from interviews with former typographers and printers, with archive documents related to the education system before, and after 1948, I have been able to show the effects that the new political order had on the development of typography, and the conveyance of the political message in Romania. The evolution of typography in Romania has been discontinuous and modern, and Romanian typography still struggles with the legacy of the communist era (1948–1989) and former state imposed standardizations on the field. The paper aims to present some social, political and economic aspects that shaped printing and publishing practices in Romania.


Arina Stoenescu is a doctoral student in book history at the Division of Book History, Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences at Lund University in Sweden. She was born in 1969 in Bucharest, Romania and has lived in Stockholm since 1989. The presentation is a part of the ongoing PhD project ‘Typography and Politics. The political impact of typography in newspapers from Romania during the communist time (1948–1989)’ and deals with the historical background that shaped the Romanian typography with a focus on the education of a typographer. The PhD project started at Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, UK. She is also active as an independent designer and editor for the micro publishing house pionier press with a special interest in bilingual children’s books, typography and Romanian subjects. In 2010, she started the first independent type design and typography courses in the Swedish higher education.