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Subject:

Re: Typographers vs. Type Designers

From:

"Francois H. Villebrod" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 12 Mar 1998 01:49:57 +0200

Content-Type:

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Hrant H. Papazian wrote:

> I was thinking about the ways people express their opinions about
> typefaces, and I came to the following conclusion:
>
> Typographers (those who set type) are trained to critique typography,
> arriving at opinions about typographic pieces, discriminating between
> the good and the bad. They tend to treat the elements of a piece
> as neutral, only acquiring a good or bad hue upon usage in a piece.
> For example, they don't like to label a font "bad" or "good".

No, if it _is_ bad they will say, because the hue _will be_ bad.
(note the absence of quotes around 'bad')

But in the sense that they will have less of a subjective opinion about
a font design or another, about it's artistic style or about the fact
that it is in fashion or not, you are absolutely right, they will
refrain from saying it is "bad" or "good". Perhaps because they see and
use a lot of type of all sorts -or for the reasons you mention- they
became open-minded.

In fact experienced typographers -the ones who set type- are the best
judges for the quality of a type design. They'll know immediately if it
is badly spaced, if there are colour mistakes, if it is legible for the
intended purpose, if the design is consistant, if the hue and texture
are pleasant to the eye, etc...

> Type designers, on the other hand, create fonts that will
> inescapably be used in typographic pieces, but they're not
> preoccupied with what the pieces will be, just that their fonts
> will be used. Type designers are trained (usually informally)
> to critique the fonts themselves, with little regard to end usage.
> Labelling a font "good" or "bad" is part of their profession.
>
> These categorizations represent the two pure extremes, and actual
> humans would lie somewhere in between.

Since you place "actual humans"(*) into this typographic scenery, Hrant,
does that mean that they have some importance to you?

If you'd be near the completion of a design, would you consider
obtaining some feedback or critique, not only from the two "pure
extremes" but also from the "actual humans" or the laymen?

I get most of my feedback from typographers, their opinions are always
the most valuable. I also poll several "actual humans" and I must say
that I am rarely deceived by the relevance of their comments. Do other
designers follow this process, or am I a deviant?

As for type designers, you're right, they too often (not always, I
insist) have this tendency to "label" every kind of design that is not
theirs "bad" or "good" according to how it fits with their credo. An
artist's ego is very strong you know, otherwise they would not be what
they are! But they make the worst judges! Perhaps so am I too (although
I am trying not to).

(*) I like your expression "actual humans"! It sounds as if the "pure
extremes" are a bit detached from the real world in comparison!

> Do you think the above is generally true, or is it just me?!
> Or is it just boringly obvious?

It's a good way to look at things. It may bore some people, but truth
always benefits from being reiterated.

To all, sincerely,

Francois H. Villebrod
type designer

http://www.typiko.com
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<+> whatever the style, type is meant to be read <+>


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