What Ever Happened to Typography?

Triste | 45 x 35 x 25 cm | Molded books | 2011. @ Ana Sánchez.

I’m going to sound like an old curmudgeon. I’m sorry, but I miss the days when typography was an art. The days when we would struggle to decide if the point size should be 7.5 or 7.25. (Today I probably can’t even see either . . . so small.)

Coming from a creative background, typography was often the focus on my designs. It provided a solid foundation when other creative resources within me were stifled.

I have fond memories of the hours spent proofing hot metal galleys, scraping off imprints left by the lead slugs or re-kerning letters to my own satisfaction. If I wanted the type to follow a curve or a circle I would carefully slice between each letter, making sure to leave the base connected, and then play and replay with the placement so that it wouldn’t look as sliced and reset as it really was. How many hours were spent deciding on the correct visual white space between each letter? What satisfaction when I felt it was right.

Today, as I create for the web, read on my Kindle Fire, or view the posting on my Facebook community, I don’t look. I forgive. And every now and then, I am thrilled when I see fonts displayed artfully.

This brief look back in time was inspired, admittedly, by a class Visual Media Alliance will be producing in conjunction with Houlton Institute called The Provocative Life of Type. Beginning April 9, Professor Alex W. White / @alexwwhite will attempt to bring typography back to the design playing field in using a uniquely hi-tech education format that combines asynchronously presented seminars, social interactions, videos, take home exercises and more. He will introduce ways to reveal meaning and add spirit to display type. The design processes used to elicit typographic feeling is an integral aspect of this course. Understanding these dynamics can inspire more expressive, dynamic, and stimulating design. I look forward to bringing the past back to the future! If you’d like to learn more click here.