Sunday, February 21, 2010

Type Design: a process of learning

Type doesn't have to be confined to the 'approved structural features' like counters, serifs and terminals. Type can be more free flowing and not adhere to these kinds of boundaries. Type itself can be image. You can merge them. How do you get to that place where type becomes image? You experiment. You push the boundaries of the 'approved structural features' or you begin to ask questions about what is type. Why should it be like this and not that?

The foundational principle in designing type I think, is that letters (in any language) are like a code. When you've learnt the code you can speak the language. It doesn't have to look a certain way. So it is with creating type. You could design a set of pictures and each one relate to a letter. Once you learn what the pictures mean you can speak the language. When the type is a picture like this there's almost no need for an image.

In designing type there has to be a set of rules that you follow to draw each letter. What is that formula that you can apply to each of the letter forms? As the letters are very different from one to the next, the formula will have to be broad enough to be applied to the creation of each different shape.

The question I asked that started me on this journey of type design was "how by the process of subtraction can you make type into art but still retain its legibility." What I'm asking now is, maybe legibility is not important. Maybe I'm designing a code and as long as I give people the key to the code, they'll be able to understand the message.

This design is like duplicating the type up to the right and then deleting the first from the second. It's pushing it though!

1 comment:

  1. nice looking sample, tom!

    i like this thinking -- "Maybe I'm designing a code and as long as I give people the key to the code, they'll be able to understand the message."

    maybe that will give you some freedom that you didn't have before. most of the writing on that post seemed to be about moving away from conventions, so why not give that a try for a bit?