The world of typography is a vast landscape of letterforms and history, advertising and revolutions. In 1450 the Gutenberg Press changed civilization like the internet changed our civilization. Information became available to the general masses, moving the center of knowledge from the elite class to the middle of culture. Today, information and culture have merged and is filled with typography and will likely remain so until some from of mind-to-mind communication is pioneered.
Sometimes I think about what it would be like to be illiterate, or what it would be like to see words for the first time if the first time were right now. To look at letters and not understand is beyond my frame of reference, I don’t remember a time before I could read, but for most of my life the content captured my attention more than the type. Mark Z. Danielewski’s book House of Leaves is visually compelling yet I still did not see the letters, the fonts for themselves. (By the way, if you haven’t at least looked at House of Leaves, you should immediately find a copy and check it out.) I finally began looking at type while enrolled in the Graphic Design program at ACC. Typography with Linda Smarzik opened my eyes to the level of detail possible in type design. I began to see billboards and magazines and newspapers differently. I realized every piece of type I saw in the world was placed there by someone for a specific purpose. Mostly. Sometimes it appears no thought entered into the design of a sign. My friend James Benavides started a blog called Awful Type designed to not only point out less than crafted typography, but also as a source of inspiration for anyone who must intimately consider the finer details of designing typography to communicate as clearly as possible.
Check us out at awfultype.com and be sure to appreciate the world around you because it has all been designed for you.
My love of podcasts is an ever evolving organism and today I have a selection of some of my favorite podcasts lately. I realize podcasts are essentially talk radio and I might be turning into my father but there is no denying the benefit of listening to people sharing information.
The production quality is not super but the content is awesome and it is not hard to listen to. Featuring interviews with well known designers from around the world, the four part Massimo Vignelli interview is a gem in the series.
Let’s Make Mistakes
Not always serious, not always on topic, but always entertaining and/or educational. The description, “Mike and Jessie talk about design, with a lot of tangents along the way” is accurate.
This is purely fun. Each episode is around 10 minutes and consists of an interview with a designer and usually ends with cursing.
Here’s a couple of my recent favorites not related to design.
Sawbones–A marital tour of misguided medicine
This is one of my favorites from Maximum Fun (see also Judge John Hodgman). Mrs. McElroy is a doctor and Mr. McElroy is the perfect foil. They travel through the history of medicine and reveal some of sciences’ less proud moments. Of course cocaine is a great cure for opium addiction, so is drilling a hole in your head. They are pretty good about getting out a new episode each Friday and being funny.
A great podcast ordinarily, they went out of their way with a live tour and were kind enough to post a performance on YouTube. Fascinating, exciting, and educational barely scratches the surface of this production.
Radiolab Live – Apocalyptical
As a child my favorite color was black. Fearing something wrong with me my mom tried to get me to like other colors. I thought navy and purple were pretty good, but when I finally got old enough to decide for myself, black won out.
Now I appreciate the entire range of color my eyes can perceive yet black is still my favorite because of the effect it has on other colors. And all the cool guys wear black.
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity is not necessarily required to add some Gonzo to designing.