Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quotes on type as art

Here are some useful quotes for my book on why type is an art form:

In his book, Using Type Right, author Philip Brady writes
"Designing with type means controlling all the visual signals so how a typeset piece looks reinforces what it says." The typeface chosen; the size of type; placement on the page; letter, word, line and paragraph spacing; white space; type and page color; alignment — everything — help to create the visual effect and get your message to the reader.

When an illustrator or photographer puts a great image on a page, it's often the first thing we notice. But when a typographer sets beautiful, perfect type, we may never notice it. In fact, if you find yourself noticing the type instead of the message, that is bad typesetting. I've seen lots of examples of this, where the use of type is so creative that the message becomes secondary or there is no message. If the goal is fun and beautiful art, and if we're going to frame and hang it on the wall, then fine. That's the end of the discussion.

But, type is meant to be read. And usually, our goal is to use type to assist communication. Grammar plays a part in this, along with the type. The two should work together to make reading easy, even pleasurable. The best use of grammar is to clarifymeaning in the message. The best use of type is to create a mood and support or enhance the message while maintaining legibility (easy recognition of words).

I think what is important about this quote is the fact that Typography isn't appreciated as an art because when it's done at it's best as a functional piece of work, the article writer is right, it shouldn't be noticed. But the quote she references seems to make the point that the typeface chosen can have complete control over how another human being percieves it. For this reason it is an art in the sense of a skill. It is a finely honed craft in terms of trying to communicate something very specific to someone. The art is when it communicates exactly what the designer wants it to to a large audience.

This article makes a similar point about the functionality and selection of type as art, but also points out the way typography is used in 'fine art' especially since the pp art movement, where design and art's boundaries became a little more blurred. Here are some good examples they give. I think it's important that typography has become an immediate and important way to communicate in 'fine art' making essentially the type an art in it's self.


Stefan Buggemann

Barbara Kruger:

"Today we are inundated with such an immense flood of printed matter that the value of individual work has depreciated, for our harassed contemporaries simply cannot take everything that is printed today. It is the typographer’s task to divide up and organize and interpret this mass of printed matter in such a way that the reader will have a good chance of finding what is of interest to him.”- Emil Ruder (typographer)

Again, this quote argues really, that typography is the art of communication, the way language is taken beyond it's essence as simple letters and can communicate a whole range of things. A serif can communicate that the work is traditional or formal, a sans-serif can communicate that the content is forward thinking, current or (at the minute, trendy) although it's not as simple as this and each typeface can do different things, this is a simple explanation of what I mean.

"Typography is an art, Good typography IS art" Paul Rand

Pavol Janovicek
"Typography was initially developed to better serve the purpose of improving the visual perception of a printed text and thus delivering textual content to the readers more effectively. The art component has always been present in typography, especially at the dawn of its development. Take a look at any ancient book and you’ll see how artfully every glyph was drawn and how richly the text was decorated. Later with the development of mass printing, font designers concentrated more on the practical characteristics of a text rather than on its artistic values. However, today, with the rapid and active development of digital typography and its popularization among visual designers, typeface creators are again ready to fascinate and impress us with the font designs, which clearly belong to art."

"we should not separate typography from art in general, because typography possesses all the characteristics of art. On one hand, typography is a technology of developing typefaces with its certain rules, notions, and industry standards. On the other hand, typography is pure art and a particular font or a font-focused illustration is a result of an artist’s imagination, creativity, and aesthetic feel"

"Typography has many artworks to offer, where color, shape of letters, and backgrounds are combined to produce a certain emotional effect on a viewer."

This is a nice series of quotes that say alot about what I'm trying to get across pretty well.

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