Jon Melton

Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Graphic Design

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Cambridge School of Art

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Graphic design and typography

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 current research focuses on the origins of sans serif type.

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Graduating from art school in 1984, 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, 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 in 1996, before accepting the post of course leader for BA (Hons) Graphic Design from 2001 to 2021. As a Senior Lecturer, 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 nationally, 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; 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 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
  • SOTA (Society of Type Aficionados) USA

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'. Chapter 14, pp.215-228. Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century. Liverpool University Press.

Melton, J., 2020. 'ETRVSCA - Bishop Sans'. pp.31-34. Ways of Thinking. Ruskin Arts Publications. Cambridge.

Melton, J. (exhibitor), 2012. 'Classic Soane'. Type specimen. Types for the New Century Exhibition Hill, W. (Curator), 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., 2011. 'Sir John Soane: a Classical Architype'. Ultrabold, 9, pp.4-10. St Bride Library, St Bride Foundation Institute, London.

Typeface fonts used in publication

Melton, J., 2020. 'ETRVSCA - Bishop Sans'. pp.31-34. Ways of Thinking. Ruskin Arts Publications. Cambridge.

Arthur, B., 2011. How Britain Won the War of 1812. Empire Initials Font, front and back cover design Loxley, S. Boydell Press, Boydell & Brewer, Woodbridge, Suffolk.

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. Empire Initials specimen picture, pp.95. London: Thames and Hudson.

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.