johnfirstdesign

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chapter 9: There is no bad type

Two hundred years ago, copperplate engraving changed thelook of typefaces, as did all subsequent technologies: the pantograph, Monotype and Linotype machines, phototypesetting, digital bitmaps and outline fonts.
This is an example of a Monotype machine

The creation of the neon sign brought letter styles to a new level. It influenced graphic design, and people have spent a lot of time airbrushing a glow of light around curved, tubular letters. Like other graphic manipulations, achieving neon effects has become much easier with drawing and painting programs available on the computer, especially in Photoshop, (Effects-Glow/Neon).



With technology changing, Email notwithstanding, the letter is still the most common style of formal business communication. Letterheads make the first impression, and so are frequently printed on fine, heavy paper in several colors, sometimes with blind embossing or mock steel engraving. Today outline fonts can emulate any shape imaginable, if not necessarily desirable; they can equal and even improve upoon every aesthetic and technical refinement ever dreamed of or achieved. Apart from the typefaces that work well because we are familar with them, there are those that defy the simplistic classifications of usefulness or purpose. They may exist only because the type designer's first thought one morning was a new letter shape. These private artistic expressions may not appeal to a wide audience, but every now and again the right singer effortlessly transforms a simple song into a great hit. There are typographic gems hidden in today's specimen books just waiting to be discovered. In the right hands, technical constraints turn into celebrations of simplicity, and awkward alphabets are typographic hereos for a day.
There is no bad type.

Chapter 8: Putting it to work

Books and furniture, quite the same thing, they all have served the same purpose for years. Types of books are used the same way: you can read, browse, look at pictures, or even check on something of particular interest. Pages offer various levels of entry for readers, viewers, and occasional browsers. These books will have to look different than our time honored tomes of linear reading, just as living rooms look different than bedrooms. Magazine pages are designed for the casual reader; there are snippets of information or gossip, headlines, captions, and other graphical signposts pointing toward various tidbits of copy. As advertisments change their look according to the latest trends, editorial pages tend to either look trendier, or to deliberately stay sober, bookish, and authoritative. Graphic designers and typographers call the containers columns or picture boxes, it is like a kitchen. The food is the text, the surface the page, and the tools are the typographic parameters needed to prepare an interesting page for the reader who has to digest it all.
There is no reason for hardworking pieces like price lists, technical catalogs, timetables, and similar heavy-duty information to look as ugly or complicated as they often do. If something looks dull, repetitive, and off-putting, people will approach it with a negative attitude, this does not improve their willingness to absorb the information.
So next time your are in your kitchen, don't sit on the surface, be careful how you use the tools and always digest your food, you don't want the feeling that someone might vomit your food you gave them.

Chapter 7: How it works

Letters were originally invented to help communicate not high culture, but mundane things like the amount of goods delivered or their value in barter or currency. Phoenicins called it aleph and the Greeks called it alpha.

With such a mixed history, no wonder our alphabet looks so unbalanced. Anyone inventing a new alphabet today would doubtless be more practical and make letters more regular. Letters are like trees, hardly ever appear by themselves, except A and I. When a bunch of letters are put together, they fight for position to be recognized. If your text is going to be fairly long and that it will require some time to read, you should adjust the layout accordingly. Lines should be long enough to get complete thoughts into them and there ought to be enough space between them to allow readers to finish reading a line before their eye gets distracted by the next. If you want you type to be read you have to make an impression in your ad, you can't wait for the reader to get settled and look for your type, you have to make it flashy. Typographic details and refinement relate to everything else; if you increase your word spacing, you have to have more space between the lines as well. This is fixed by adjusting the kerning and spacing. When designing, we could make all of our designs and type different sizes, move them up and down, overlap them, put them into the background, or turn them sideways.
Design is endless and it all lies on the desinger and his or her imagination.

Chapter 6: Types of Type

The more features we can see, the easier it is to tell who is who or what is what. That is the key statement for this blog. Our eyes scan the top of the letters' x-heights during the normal reading process, so that is where the primary identification of each letter takes place. Some weights of typefaces might be used more extensively than others, there is no paternal ore maternal dominance. No matter what it is, some things all look the same but are totally different items and act in a different way. For example, going with the one from the book, guitars.

These are all the same in the sense that they play music, they made sound different and look different but serve the same purpose. High designers call the different items needed to form a good design accessoires, they have to fulfill a particular function while achieving an aesthetic balance with the main design. Rhythm and contrast keep coming up when discussing good music and good typographic design. Every now and then an audience needs to be shaken up, either in music or in design. Just adding a more catchy or crazy typeface could bring up controversy in a design. Letters have been around in very much the same shape for several hundred years, and the language haven't changed beyond recognition either.
So basically type is just light music, you could have bold type or loud music, soft non bold type or soft rock favorites, you could have italisized or classical music or jagged type or heavy rock. That is why artist, like myself gets inspired by the music that I am listening to during the piece that I am working on and it shows.