Remembering Jim Rimmer

Jim Rimmer sadly passed away on Saturday, January 9th, 2010 after battling cancer. He was a pivotal influence in Canadian letterpress and private press.

Jim Rimmer was a pivotal influence in Canadian letterpress and private press. Many of his typefaces, such as Albertan are ubiquitous in print and digital graphic design worldwide. His stature as an icon was recognized in 2007 when he was awarded a fellowship by the GDC.

“We are very proud to support the next generation of designers in our community, through this fitting honour of Jim Rimmer’s contributions to the field with this scholarship.” ~ Dick Kouwenhoven, president and CEO of Hemlock Printers

Sadly, Jim Rimmer passed away on Saturday, January 9th, 2010 after battling cancer. The scholarship was initially announced in November 2009 at Practivism, an annual GDCBC event. Jim knew of the scholarship in his name, though he was too ill to attend Practivism.

“Jim Rimmer is an icon of Canadian design, craftsmanship and ingenuity. This scholarship is a reminder to the new generation of design thinkers that we need to retain the principles of our craft, Jim led by example. His work and passion will always be an inspiration to our members and everyone in the design industry.” ~ Marga Lopez, CGD, past-president of GDC/BC. “


A Lettter To Remember Jim

In 2010 Emelie Halston wrote a letter after her experience meeting Jim.

"I met Jim Rimmer in my second year of the Graphic Design for Marketing program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University when I was enrolled in a course called Print Technologies taught by GDCF Dale Simonson. Throughout the semester, we were visiting a number of print shops to get a hands-on perspective of industry print processes. Dale had given us Jim Rimmer’s address and independently, we made our way to the little house in New Westminster with the backyard studio. Little did I know the field trip would forever serve to alter my own views on graphic design and printing.

I remember arriving at the address on the handout thinking I must have gotten lost. The previous printing studio’s we had visited in the course were large corporate print shops located in industrial areas, not on quaint neighborhood streets. I sat in my car until I saw other classmates arriving, all sharing the same thought and wearing the same expression…what were we doing here? Dale arrived, smiling, like he had a secret that we were about to be let in on. Looking back, he certainly did.

As a class we made our way past the house into the backyard where we met Jim at the door to his studio standing on a cement doormat carved with an elegant serif typeface, handmade by himself. The doormat was only one of the many exquisite pieces of type I was about to see, and most importantly, feel. 

Jim led us through his studio describing each printing press, how it was used, when it was made and what projects he had created with it. Jim spoke fondly of each press as though they were his longtime friends, ones that were loyal and dependent.

Jim pulled out drawers of handmade typefaces and let us examine the curves and lines of each letter. I instantly fell in love with the quality of his skill and the beautiful impression each letter made as it met paper. Guiding us through his projects in progress and bits and pieces of past work lying around, Jim was cheerful, educating and infinitely inspirational. 

Before we left, Jim tossed some old printing blocks into the melting pot and turned out a serif ‘A’ type piece for each of us, it was still warm in my hand as I made my way back to the car. 

Everyone in our class was beaming with admiration for Jim Rimmer. Jim had offered us a unique experience to take a glimpse into the history of printing in a way that held our attention and imagination with sheer respect. Like Dale, we were in on the secret too."


See the 2014 Jim Rimmer Community Scholarship for Design Award Winners

Cover Photo Credit: Ryan Mah