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Jim Rimmer was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1934. In 1950, he undertook a six-year apprenticeship with local printer and publisher J.W. Boyd and Sons. He subsequently worked for seven years as a journeyman compositor for several BC newspapers, including the Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun, and the Williams Lake Tribune. From 1972 to 1999, Rimmer ran a freelance design office, working as an illustrator, graphic designer, and type designer; some of his more notable commercial designs include the logo for Canadian Pacific Airlines, and the provincial mark for British Columbia.
Rimmer designed and cut his first typeface, Juliana Old Style, in 1980. In the years following, he designed and produced numerous faces in both metal and digital format, including proprietary fonts and typeface revivals. For several years during the 1980s Rimmer worked with Giampa Text Ware, operated by Gerald Giampa. Rimmer designed digital type fonts with this firm and its successor, Lanston Type Company. He was an active member of the American Typecasting Fellowship beginning in 1984, and founded the Rimmer Type Foundry in 1998.
In 1974, Rimmer founded Pie Tree Press, named after an old apple tree in his backyard, the fruit of which was used to make pies. As Pie Tree Press, Rimmer printed numerous broadsides and books, including Alison’s Fishing Birds, commissioned by Colophon Books. He subsequently produced four major limited edition publications, for which he did the typesetting, illustrations and book-binding: Shadow River: the Selected and Illustrated Poems of Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (1997), A Christmas Carol (1998), Leaves from the Pie Tree (2006), an autobiographical work including “how-to” knowledge, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2008). Rimmer was working on the design of the ‘Dubloon’ typeface for a fifth book, Treasure Island, at the time of his death (this font will be released as the “Rimmer” typeface).
Over the course of his career, Rimmer taught drawing and typography classes at many local colleges and universities, including the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design, Capilano College, Kwantlen College, Simon Fraser University, and the University College of the Fraser Valley. He also held workshops in hand-setting, printing, and book-binding. Rimmer’s work earned him awards from the Creative Club, Graphic Designers of Canada, Art Direction Creativity in Illustration, and the American Typecasting Fellowship. A series of broadsides designed for Westgraphica, now Karo, earned him the “Communication Arts Award of Excellence” in the self-promotion class. “Rimmerfest : An Evening to Celebrate Jim Rimmer and His Many Contributions” took place on November 25, 2006; the event was organized by Simon Fraser University Library. In 2007, Rimmer was made a fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada.
Jim Rimmer passed away in New Westminster on January 8, 2010.