Drawing is a form of listening.
My scrapbook of others’ fine content from books, videos, or around the web.
It is high time to call a halt to the spread of sans serifs in architecture and elsewhere.
As my office building at the University adds more and more permanent signage with zero consistency in typeface choice or other typographic consideration, this passage from Adrian Frutiger stood out:
The reader encounters typefaces in other forms as well as in printing. His daily environment, in face his entire living space, is filled with typographic characters of all kinds.
Unlike printed matter, with which the reader can bring the written word into his field of vision according to his own desire and choice, lettering on buildings is forced into view without restraint. Depending on its design, such lettering can provide an enrichment of the environment, almost in the sense of ornamentation, or, on the other hand, it can be ugly and therefore experienced as aggressive “pictorial noise”, inimical to the environment.
In this connection, lettering can be regarded as two-dimensional architecture. This realisation makes it possible to appreciate the designing of public signs and notices from a completely new viewpoint, by integrating them into the total concept instead of simply “sticking them on” or “hanging them up”.
— Adrian Frutiger, Type Sign Symbol p. 70
I recently finished Jan Tschichold’s Treasury of Alphabets and Lettering (1952), an incredible gallery of historical typographic examples alongside acerbic and insightful commentary by Tschichold, and this passage about storefront signs has popped into my head whenever driving by any given strip mall:
In selecting a letter for a given task, beauty is not the only factor. The letter must also be appropriate to its purpose and surroundings. Most important, a distinction must be made between lettering that is to serve for a long period of time and lettering which is to serve only briefly. Frequently, we see lettering in architecture which, due to its flighty and cursive character, is suitable only for temporary and cheap signs. Many store front inscriptions, often executed in metal or neon lights, belong to the category of imitation brush lettering which is alien to their purpose. These are not only generally hard to read, but also often lack the spontaneous, fresh form which only a master can give them after long practice. They are lame, warped, and miserable. That which one is unprepared to do but insists on doing becomes trashy. And this trash despoils our cities today at every turn. Such pap-like brush lettering on our store fronts is out of place and poorly done. Store front lettering is an architecture, since it is a part of the building. It is destined for a long duration, often for decades, and should, therefore, always be correct, noble and beautiful. It is a waste of money to cast such pseudo brush lettering in expensive metal; it must be replaced in a few years as it becomes obsolete and visually offensive to everybody.
This kind of lettering is either the result of the client’s “design” or conceived by incompetents who should choose another profession.
Store and building signs are necessary, but they need not result in the evil they have become.
Type-design is not exclusively a matter of aesthetics but, to a large extent, of understanding the technical conditions in which the letter-forms are built up; and a typeface is successful when it is properly at the service of a strict conformity with the material and with progressive techniques.
Every script contains the spirit of its age.
The good type designer knows that, for a new font to be successful, it has to be so good that only very few recognize its novelty.
Always good reading about where pigments came from before the 20th Century’s wide introduction of synthetic materials.
A love letter from the IEEE Spectrum about the 1980s BBS phenomenon with an emphasis on how BBSes and the FidoNet message system spurred the creation of local social networks between users, the local part mostly being lost on our current global social media platforms.
An add-on for FidoNet called Echomail written by a developer in Dallas, Texas took simple conversational forums like this across the nation — for a fictionalized account of this history, see the 2nd season of Halt and Catch Fire (OK, that show is riffing more on the Lucasfilm Games-develoed Quantum Link Club Caribe, but it’s of the right era and zeitgeist)
This would be a fun thing to dink around with: a level editor for the Apple II version of Prince of Persia, one of the most innovative platforming games of all time.
If you have any interest in game design and development, be sure to also read Jordan Mechner’s journals / diaries from his time making Karateka and Prince of Persia — a time capsule into the mind of a successful ~18-year-old game dev auteur.