Drawing is what I always loved the most. I discovered drawing type is drawing in a very pure form. Because a type designer does not draw letters. A type designer designs words and words are structures that contain patterns of black and white shapes, form and counterform. It is a game that deals with space and rhythm. Which is precisely what, for me, is the essence of drawing.
Type design is one of the most visible and widespread forms of graphic expression in daily life. It is still not noticed by all readers of newspapers, magazines or books. Nevertheless letter forms reflect the style of a period, and its cultural background. We are surrounded by them everywhere. The designer of new typefaces works in extremely small dimensions in shaping a letter, and he is also limited by the traditional forms of the alphabet. There are few possibilities for new ideas, for a good design should not have eccentric and unusual details. But the compromises required in designing for metal type can be ignored today because the new digital technology allows freedom in making new designs. Typography is two-dimensional architecture, based on experience and imagination, and guided by rules and readability. And this is the purpose of typography: The arrangement of design elements within a given structure should allow the reader to easily focus on the message, without slowing down the speed of his reading.
Type is like music in having its own beauty, and in being beautiful as an accompaniment and interpretation; and typography can be used to express a state of the soul, like the other arts and crafts. But like them it is too often used mechanically, and so the full expressiveness of this medium is unrealized. If it is used according to a rule or recipe, it becomes dull and loses vividness. Type appears at first to be a rigid medium; but like other rigid media, it is plastic to the living spirit of a craftsman.
To give a text an author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing. In other words: we should abandon the society’s prejudgements which destroys the writing and the reader.
In drawing/designing letterforms stenciling is a kind of in-between technique. On one hand it is much more precise than writing, because written forms are always different from each other. Stenciling avoids that, in principle every shape stenciled from the same stencil is the same. This can be done in Illustrator as well, copy and paste. The good thing about stenciling is however that the students have to use their own hands and are confronted with their skills concerning precision in cutting and positioning and drawing letter-elements. Using pens, pencils, markers, cutters instead of a keyboard, a mouse and a screen, results often in a total other mood and attitude towards basic exercises. So stenciling has a high degree of precision yet it remains very human, you have to do it with your own hands. The latin alphabet is very suitable for stenciling because a lot shapes repeat themselves, the curve from the ’n’ can be used for the ‘h’ and ‘m’ and ‘u’ for example. Often the students have more respect of a few words stenciled by themselves in comparison with a laser-printed page. The interaction with the material and the results is often a far more positive one.
It sounds simple: take a seriffed design, cut off the serifs, lower the contrast, and there you have a sans serif. But of course there is more to it than just that. I believe the most logical order when making such a family is to start with the seriffed design. From that basis a sans serif can be made. The first attempt to design a sans based on a seriffed typeface was undertaken by the Dutch type designer Jan van Krimpen. In the early 1930s he designed the seriffed Romulus, totally with a sans serif design.
The problem of seeing and identifying a familiar object can be divided into two stages: coding and classifying. Coding reduces the multidimensional stimulus to a few features; classifying uses the features to identify the object. Most of what we know about classifying has come from engineers, while physiologists and psychophysicists have concentrated on the coding problem. How people recognize an object might seem trivial, because we do it so easily, but it has resisted all attempts to understand and explain it. Our past work has shown that letter identification begins with independent detection of features, and then integrates those features. We can say quite a bit about the feature detectors, and rather little about the feature integrator.
‘Explain, explain,’ grumbled Étienne. ‘If you people can’t name something you’re incapable of seeing it.’
The map is not the territory. Shaping context & connection is an act of architecture. A new form of space requires a new form of architecture. Space made of information requires information architecture.
Design thinking is about analyzing situations and becoming conscious.