Having finished Just My Type, an entertaining look at the things we take in every day with our eyes, which some notice more than others, I was again entranced with the art of “type.” That is, the art or procedure of arranging type, or processing data, and the printing from it. Simon Garfield‘s history of fonts, covering everything from Gutenberg to the creation of Comic Sans, from Ikea’s font-change controversy to even the staid use of one in particular (Trajan) plaguing the movie posters (or DVD covers) of today, worth the trip.
Janet Maslin’s equally amusing book review for the New York Times nailed it:
“A sizable swath of the population knows all about font design for reasons having to do with livelihood. After all, knowledge of fonts is essential to advertising, book publishing, professions (like law) that require thoughtfully chosen stationery and any written work that can be done on a home computer. Personal computers are the main reason that font fandom and do-it-yourself design have snowballed in the last two decades. Had Steven Jobs not taken a shine to calligraphy as a college student and decided to include a choice of fonts in computer software, we might not be having this conversation.”
JUST MY TYPE
A Book About Fonts
By Simon Garfield
Illustrated. 356 pages. Gotham Books. $27.50.
Type, in all its faces, blankets across all the popular arts that interest me and others. Surely in the fonts affecting movies, to the books we read, including the articles and blog posts that take up my time on the web. Typography’s influence on music, without doubt in the album covers, goes hand-in-hand with the harmonics that emote in us all. If you’ve a passing fancy for the style and appearance of printed matter, or a burning desire to know what looks good on your computer screen1 (or your tablet’s and/or phone), then this would be a must-read.
Call it a remnant of the old design layout course I once took in college. Got me interested in the subject of type, initially. A fascinating topic of the ancient tool that, at a minimum, kept us reading, and at the far end, ogling its 11-point to billboard-sized beauty. I even did Tantor’s audiobook version for this, only bringing my ears and mind to the exercise, and it still managed to enthrall. I recommend the New York Times review (and the book) of Simon Garfield’s enthused font chronicle to judge if it’s your type of thing. 😉
- When I went looking for a new blog theme, I made sure it contained a legible and readable serif font for its main body of text. Still trying to figure what typeface that is, though. ↩