Over the long, sunny weekend, the last of summer, just ended, I sat in the backyard and read an entertaining book by Simon Garfield, "Just My Type," about typefaces.
It's terrific introduction for the novice. The book is broken up into small stories, each with a theme (e.g., "Can a font be German, or Jewish?") and each with a leading character to profile. Like New Yorker profiles, and that well written.
Something different about the book, though similar to the "Entrepreneur's Perspective" breakouts in Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson's 'Venture Deals' book, are the "FontBreaks," brief asides between chapters that discuss a single font.
There are plenty of pictures and samples of type throughout. Occasionally, Garfield's explication of the features of a given typeface extend past the sampling. It can be frustrating to be following his canny observation, say, of the innovative positioning of the bowls of a lower case g, only to flip back a page to the sampling of that font to find the book's designer chose to stop at the letters b, h and i.
But that's a small complaint. The book is having an impact on me, as Jason and Adam of General UI will find out when they check their emails this morning. :)
One theme I foresee blogging about this Fall could be categorized under the tag, "professional indifference." I mean to bring it home and include lawyering in the discussion.
For the moment, however - and probably for as long as the main body of this blog remains set in Arial - permit the following quotation from Garfield's book to stand in on the subject.
"Spiekermann's rise to prominence coincides precisely with the rise of digital type, and also with the reunification of Germany. His fonts adorn the Berlin Transit Network and the Deutsche Bahn national railways, while a short walk from his office is the Philharmonie, the home of the Berlin Philharmonic, for whom Spiekermann designed the corporate branding. But that was a few years ago, and he isn't entirely happy with what's happened to it since. 'They fucked it up as quickly as they could,' he says. . . ."
"He's not very keen on the new posters either, preferring the images he gave them of landscapes. 'They said, "What does landscape have to do with music?" Like type, landscape and music are all about emotion. But that's the one thing about this job - I love to be a graphic designer, but could we get rid of the clients somehow please?'"
Pictured: modern allegory in Bauer Bodoni® Bold Condensed; photo from Okan Tustas website.