In Search of a Comprehensive
Type Design Theory

Note from Ty: In 2006 I read a thought-provoking article by Peter Biľak entitled “In Search of a Comprehensive Type Design Theory” in which he debates the merits and feasibility of developing an all encompassing theory for type design. Peter’s article inspired the name “Type Theory” for this site. Peter was gracious enough to allow me to republish his original article in its entirety here for you.

Peter’s original article can be found at Typotheque: www.typotheque.com

Have you ever heard a conversation between two type designers? Even the most patient, well-intentioned outsider might find himself smiling embarrassedly, excusing himself and looking for an exit, dumbfounded. Type designers, like computer programmers, clinical biochemists, entomologists and agricultural scientists are marked by an unintelligible jargon and slavish devotion to their pursuits; what sets them apart, however, is the seeming unimportance of their discussions. We type designers might be convinced that our profession is vital to society, but we wouldn’t risk going on strike to test how indispensable we really are. Like printer cartridges or pen refills, fonts are undoubtedly very practical and serve their function, but the public seems to take them for granted and largely ignores them.

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2 Comments Category: Observations

Typographic Lock-ups & Enclosures

Fringe Salon

Fringe Salon

Epic Apparel

Epic Apparel

Live at the River

Live at the River

Brian Miller has a knack for making the complex beautiful. When given a long string of words, he can transform them into a sophisticated typographic concoction. As the Vice President and Senior Art Director of Gardner Design, Brian has many opportunities to apply his type prowess to the art of logo design. In situations where many designers would be inclined to complain of copy overload, Brian excels at elegantly composing lengthy phrases and titles. On occasion he has even been known to request additional copy from a client. Brian is the post-modern response to clean Swiss modernity.

For the past two years I have had the honor to work alongside Brian at Gardner Design. His patient guidance has helped me expand beyond my Bahaus tendencies. When I asked Brian for examples of typographic lock-ups and enclosures he promptly provided me with over 35 MB of 72dpi files. So I had the difficult task of editing down an enormous library of logos for this article. I’ve included iterations of a few of the logos to demonstrate the variety for a single project.

All of the logos were designed by Brian with creative direction by Bill Gardner with the exception of the logos for A&M Upholstery and The Lone Ranger, which were designed collaboratively by Bill and Brian.

Each logo is an example of either a “typographic lock-up” or “typographic enclosure”. Several logos fall under both categories. All logos seen were presented to the client. Some were selected as the final logo and others have been waiting in the Gardner Design archives until now. Which typographic lock-up or enclosure is your favorite?

Brian is also the designer of the typeface Country Fang distributed through Nathan Williams’ Baseline Fonts.

A&M Upholstery

A&M Upholstery

Piccadilly Square

Piccadilly Square

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Allied Crane

Allied Crane

Backroads Traveler

Backroads Traveler

Barry Downing Roast

Barry Downing Roast

Coleman

Coleman

Hullings Orthodontics

Hullings Orthodontics

Lavish

Lavish

McCoy Realty Group

McCoy Realty Group

Parkstone

Parkstone

Stanley Martin

Stanley Martin

Anjou Bakery - A

Anjou Bakery - A

Anjou Bakery - B

Anjou Bakery - B

Anjou Bakery - C

Anjou Bakery - C

BG Bolton's - A

BG Bolton's - A

BG Bolton's - B

BG Bolton's - B

BG Bolton's - C

BG Bolton's - C

Bradley Paper - A

Bradley Paper - A

Bradley Paper - B

Bradley Paper - B

Bradley Paper - C

Bradley Paper - C

TNT Burgers - A

TNT Burgers - A

TNT Burgers - B

TNT Burgers - B

TNT Burgers - C

TNT Burgers - C

14 Comments Category: Showcase

Collaborate to Automate

English publisher Faber & Faber wanted to breath new life into the sales of their out of print books. So Faber & Faber launched a new division called Faber Finds that utilizes printing on demand (POD), and in-house Art Director Darren Wall was charged with assembling a team to bring everything together. Michael C. Place of Build in London was hired to develop a custom font, B-HMMND, that consists of normal and alternative versions. Corey Holms, a graphic designer living in Fullerton, California, was brought in by Build to complete the character set, code and kern, and ultimately produce an OpenType typeface with stylistic alternatives. The font is used for the Faber Finds logotype and in the title of each book. Marian Bantjes, a designer extraordinaire living in Bowen Island, British Columbia, was hired to create border ornament elements that could be later automatically assembled into custom borders for four different genres of books. Karsten Schmidt of PostSpectacular in London constructed a “design machine” written in Processing, Java and PHP that combines Marian’s border elements and Michael’s typeface to automatically produce a theoretically infinite number of books on demand. Five people collaborating with technology from three different countries – is this a sign of a new more collaborative future?

Each collaborator (with the exception of Darren) has posted images and descriptions about their contributions to their respective websites:

B-HMMND Normal

B-HMMND Normal

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No Comments Category: Showcase

Siggi Eggertsson

Siggi Eggertson first caught my attention with his fresh album artwork for Gnarls Barkley’s The Odd Couple. Why his cover art isn’t nominated for Best Recording Package for this year’s Grammy’s baffles me. Siggi’s work seems to be popping up in more places as of late. The current issue of Wired features a spot illustration in his signature style. In addition to illustration and the occasional graphic design project, Siggi also creates display typefaces. Siggi was born in Iceland and currently works for the hip London agency Big Active from his studio in Berlin.

Riddari

Riddari

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No Comments Category: Showcase

Grammy Typographic Portraits

The Recording Academy hired TBWA\Chiat\Day to produce a series of typographic illustrations promoting the 51st Annual Grammy Awards. Artists depicted in the campaign include Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Lil Wayne, Lenny Kravitz, Kanye West and Rihanna. Each portrait is comprised of various songs that influence and inspire the artist. The campaign extends across TV, print and web.

Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne

6 Comments Category: Showcase

Das Kunsthandwerk

“Das Kunsthandwerk” is a book that Bill Gardner brought back from a flea market in Austria. The term “das kunsthandwerk” is German and means “arts and crafts”. This beautifully ornate book is filled with extravagant illustrations throughout. I selected one of my favorite pages to scan and share. With a whole host of swashes, ornamental borders and decorated blackletter, I find that I keep discovering details.

Das Kunsthandwerk

Das Kunsthandwerk

Ornament

Ornament

Swashes

Swashes

Striped Blackletter

Striped Blackletter

Interlacing Ornament

Interlacing Ornament

Decorative Blackletter

Decorative Blackletter

Bevy of Swashes

Bevy of Swashes

1 Comment Category: Discovered
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