Typography and Lettering Review
Today I read several articles about typography and lettering. I wanted to share my thoughts:
The subject of typography and lettering has been of interest to me since early college, when I enrolled in an introductory typography course. The interest was furthered throughout my early career and most recently when I took a workshop by Ken Barber on hand-lettering. Through this, I have understood the difference between the two disciplines; however this article eloquently articulated the basics of the subject. This article was an interesting read, as it went into the history of type and type setting, which I find fascinating. My husband often finds my comments on typography and fonts to be boring, but it is a very interesting field. One subject that this article taught me that I was not previously familiar with, is calligraphy. It is interesting to see how it evolved through several eras. The example from the 1600s was beautiful and it is a skill that I can appreciate because my own handwriting is terrible. I much prefer lettering, which is the skill of drawing letters, but is limited to headings and short phrases. A designer that I had not previously heard of and would be interested in reading more about would be Herb Lubalin, a contemporary of Doyald Young.
Though I am very familiar with a variety of typefaces, I never did learn the “classifications” of most fonts. I have picked up some understanding over the past few years, but this blog post did a decent job of explaining some classifications that I did not previously fully understand. For example: Humanist. I just thought of this as a font name, rather than a classification. I learned that humanist was developed during the Renaissance to mimic Latin writing. This is a classification that I don’t use often, but I will definitely notice and look for it more in the future. However I don’t recognize a lot of difference between Humanist and a type such as Times, which I believe would be considered Transitional – not sure about this. The font Baskerville, which I chose to use in my Creative Jam, is considered a Transitional font, which I did not know. Transitional fonts are something I plan to research more due to being fonts I used regularly. This article made me much more aware of the various typefaces and the subtle differences between the x-heights, serifs, and crossbars.
This article reviewed some classifications from the first part, but then it continued to elaborate on some modern typeface classifications of which I recognized, such as blackletter, scripts and sans-serif, to name a few. In addition, some categories I was vaguely aware of but did not know their name are gaelic, non-latin, and glyphic. One category that I rarely use is the graphic style, because those fonts are often hard to read and are only used for titles or very short phrases. The reason I had not previously studied or used non-Latin type is because I am not fluent in other languages or writing systems. However, I recognize now that I have used non-Latin type from when I studied Chinese. This is an example of a non-Latin type. In my design I have used type from most of these classifications, but I do feel that having a stronger understanding of the classifications will aid in choosing fonts for future work. The categories each have a history of why they were developed which contributes to the style and feel of the font. Understanding this history will definitely help in selecting the correct style for a design.
The subject of text is very important for graphic designers. As someone who frequently does editorial design, it is important that I have a strong understanding of both the grid layout and text layout. This article touches on kerning, tracking, leading and the meaning that can be projected through the layout of space. While I am familiar with all of these concepts, this article was a good refresher on an old subject that is good for any designer. Often I find myself condensing the tracking of text to get rid of widows and orphans. Despite my protests to most clients, they prefer to see squished type than that lonely word at the end. I prefer to extend the spacing so that the word is no longer lonely than to squish it to the previous line. However, sometimes due to space constraints and layout of other paragraphs, decreasing the tracking is unavoidable. So to say that it is an “offense” is somewhat harsh. There are always exceptions to design rules, though they are good to follow when possible. The examples of space and meaning were interesting because this is something that I would like to do with logos or book covers, allowing more meaning in the word or rather than just using images. My current goal is to increase my use of typography to provide meaning rather than using images and icons.