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Swift strokes and sampled constructs (Pt. 1)

Swift strokes and sampled constructs (Pt. 1)

Unlike the flowing, balletic movements of hand-rendered letterforms, there is nothing swift in typographic forms. Intentionally arranging typeforms is slow, staged, expensive, and always deliberate. Typeface-making invites reflection, discussion, and review. Typefaces will stretch the limits of their encoding technologies to maximise the potential to act as agents of design discourse, cultural commentary, innovation and experimentation. This observation applies across typemaking and typesetting technologies -- any variations we perceive are a factor of the number of people working on making typefaces, and the ease with which people can make one more typeface.
(This is a self-contained lecture, but part of a longer narrative; therefore the “Part 1” in the title here.)

Gerry Leonidas

June 14, 2015

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  1. “Developing a new design 
 the designer is concerned primarily

 with the appearance 0f character images, 
 and only secondarily with the shape 
 of the objects that give rise to them.” Richard Southall
 Shape and appearance in typeface design
  2. all possible 
 of a shape all possible

 by the reader designer intention
  3. Walbaum 6 and 10 pt metal, 
 and Monotype T1

 Left shapes from: Harry Carter
 Optical scale in typefounding
 Typography 4, 1937
  4. “models” and “instances” Redefined to avoid the overlap 

    “pattern” with hot-metal use, 
 and Alexander’s “pattenr language”
  5. model encoded
 object instance instance instance encoded
 object instance instance

    [One typeface, encoded in many technologies, 
 many potential outputs]
  6. No discussion of typefaces 
 is worth having 

    of the typography 
 that makes use of them.
  7. The things you can readily measure 
 are not necessarily

    the things 
 that are worth measuring.
  8. “The crux of the matter is that 
 type is

    not pen-written forms, 
 but sharply-cut letters.” Sem L. Hartz
 An approach to designing type, 1992
  9. “The only alternative is a sloped type 
 sufficiently inclined

    to be differentiated 
 from the primary type, yet following its 
 design as closely as possible.” Stanley Morison
 Towards an ideal italic
 The Fleuron, 1926
  10. “It is a safe rule that he should do nothing

 without a correct understanding of the 
 design of the letters, or having good models 
 before him to allow him to catch the 
 fashion of them, and to make such 
 alterations as he thinks necessary.” Fournier, quoted in Counterpunch
  11. 2. The added value of design is redefined 

    from the visible acts of practice
  12. The rules for evaluation are determined 
 by context: trends,

    genres, use scenarios, 
 and the allowance for creativity.
  13. “Rejection or ignorance of the rich and varied 

    and traditions of typography are
 inexcusable; however, adherence to traditional 
 concepts without regard to contemporary 
 context is intellectually lazy and a threat 
 to typography today.” Jeffery Keedy
 The rules of typography according 
 to crackpots experts. Eye 9, 1993
  14. “A fashion in type is an encumbrance to the reading

    world until it becomes common.” Harry Carter
 The establishment of common idioms
 A view of early typography […], 1926