Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quotes from "Just My Type"

Firstly apologies about how ridiculously all over the place the typefaces are in the last post (such irony isn't it?), copying and pasting the appropriate quotes fro other pages caused no end of coding nightmares that I can't be bothered to go in and fix at this stage (as long as it's just about readable, right?).

I got the book "Just My Type" by Simon Garfield for Christmas from my brother and read it cover to cover, some of the quotes in it are very pertinent to the argument 'type is art'. Here are some of the best and most appropriate to the argument:

"Some type vocabulary has an internal beauty of it's own... Much of this is anthropomorphic, treating letters as living life forms..."

I guess I like this quote because it highlights the craft involved and the loving nature of the relationship between a typographer and the letterforms he works with. It's almost the same as a sailor calling his ship 'old girl' or something similar. Whilst not strictly suggesting that typography is art, it does suggest the beauty (and what is art but beauty) of typography.

"As with Fashion,, the design of Typography is an alarmingly vibrant art form. It refuses ossification. Like the wildest genres of modern art, it is the newest things that upset the traditionalists."

"The theory that the most legible font is the most beautiful now seems absurd."

These two quotes refer directly to the wild experimentation with typography that occurs and the beauty that this can display. I guess it's much the same as fine art, in that experimentation leads to the most creatively sound pieces of work. Thus type is like art, and indeed is art.

"The best type exists merely to communicate the idea"
"Does it add something of beauty to the world?"
- both by Beatrice Warde

He uses the example of Ikea changing from the well respected futura to the ubiquitous Verdana to demonstrate the intense craft of typefaces and the outcry when the art of a typeface (still a very readable serif) is substituted for something a little more bland, even if they do exactly the same job equally as well:

"In August 2009, people began talking about their love of one typeface and distrust of another"

"Futura has a quirkiness to it that Verdana does not"

"Verdana is linked to something modern and commonly reviled: Microsoft"

I think the debate it's self is like one you'd have when looking at the turner prize winner... you just can't believe that the art has been taken out of something. Verdana to me is like shed boat shed. It isn't art. Futura would be like Munch's scream; something compelling and unique.

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