Somewhere along the way I abandoned cartooning and drawing when I discovered typography, or at least creating layouts for newspapers by correctly using fonts and pictures, was a much more viable career choice.
When I was growing up, type existed in a rarefied world. Proud craftsmen and women handled their letter forms with care and artistry. Getting something typeset was a big, and expensive, process and seeing “your name in print” was a big deal. The craft had cheapened when everyone had their own page-design program powered by “document wizards.” Today, I think more people realize that setting type is like arranging furniture in a room. It’s easy to pretend you know how.That wasn’t the case with cartooning.
So today, when I see such a wealth of resources on fonts, and an explosion of new fonts on the market, it never seems like too much information.
The Font Bureau, which was instrumental in our redesign of the Hearst Connecticut newspapers, has a new blog on type that contains a new series of essays. Its academic tone is unfortunate, but it’s worth the slog to understand the foundations of typography.
In a world where Helvetica is no longer just the name of a font bu the name and topic of a very popular documentary, I predict the world will be paying much more attention to the art of typography once again.
Elsewhere on the blog are lighthearted illustrations by type designer Cyrus Highsmith and photos of the Font Bureau team having an offsite meeting on Martha’s Vineyard, which is of course where most people who work in Boston take their offsite meetings. In the photo collage is Sam Berlow, who I still remember at the Las Vegas meeting of the Society for News Design.
He implored us “don’t scale the type!” More than once he implored us. At the time, our body copy was Nimirod 8.7 points but scaled horizontally at 90%. (The publisher’s request, but not an unusual practice for a newspaper that was shrinking its page size.) Today we run our type, Font Bureau’s Zocalo, at 9 points. It’s rounder and more generously scaled than Nimrod. And we don’t scale it a hair even though the word count in our stories suffers.
But readers love the new, rounder, slightly quirky (check out those lower-case g’s up close!) 9-point text. Mr. Berlow was right.