Celebrating type

Celebrating type

By Mike Danher, Creative Director

Typography is at the heart of great design. It has the ability to make or break a piece of creative, yet is often overlooked as a foundation of excellent communications. So it’s great to see the the first Typography and Lettering Awards recently being launched by Print, which is aiming to celebrate all forms of typographic designs and recognise the best designers in a number of categories.

The launch of such an award gives an opportunity to reflect and recognise the importance of the guiding principles that underpin great typography, in the face of ever changing technology. This is close to our hearts here at Kaleidoscope, where we’ve been able to integrate a traditional schooling in the craft of great typography with the incredible creative opportunities that technology now provides, since we opened our doors in 1988.

Our associate type-expert, Alan Jones, reflects: “I spent the first few years of my working life moving individual characters of type into position by hand on a rolling font filmstrip. The machine was a Phototypositor, which was for producing display type, exposing each letter one at a time on to 2″ wide photographic paper. It made you pay attention to what you were doing, getting the kerning just right, making sure it was in focus and hoping like hell a bubble wouldn’t drift past as you hit the expose lever!

Of course, that is a world away from the kit we use today. With the heavy lifting now taken care of by technology, we’re able to explore many the use of type in a wide number of creative options at a much greater speed. This means that we can quickly develop personalised type-led concepts in an agile and responsive way that ties in seamlessly with the collaborative development processes adopted by many organisations. And of course, the connected nature of the world means that we’re now able to harness inspirational typography from a global community.”

Yet, while technology provides a wealth of opportunity to enhance and build unique typography, the modern-era focus on producing creative work at such a fast-pace can sometimes lead to designers neglecting some of the basic principles of typography.

So it is really pleasing to see new awards being introduced that take typography back to basics and celebrate the craft of great type. A look further afield across the industry shows that there is an increasing level of discussion and debate around type, with some fantastic books being published that provide useful hints and tips such as Type Matters! by Jim Williams and interesting reports that explore issues around accessibility and legibility, such as the recent publication by graphic designer Thomas Brohm.

The root words that make up typography are typos, meaning impression or mark, and grapheia, meaning writing; typography literally means making impressions with writing. So lets dedicate the time, energy and craft to make the right impression with every piece of type!