Famous Quotes from Type Designers

Primary tabs

161 posts / 0 new
Last post
Tiffany Wardle's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
Famous Quotes from Type Designers
0

Alright fellow Typophiles, what are your favorite quotes from famous type designers. Can't tell you why, it is a surprise. However, we could also put these in the wiki. I'll start:

"Anyone that would letterspace blackletter would steal sheep." Frederic W. Goudy

Craig Eliason's picture
Offline
Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
0

"There are now about as many different varieties of letters as there are different kinds of fools." Eric Gill

Mark Foster's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Nov 2004 - 9:02pm
0

"Berthold is still a good typeface, but even Berthold has some less than attractive features, and then I just cut them off because I didn't like them." -Wolfgang Weingart

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
0

"Bodoni would be an admirable letter for a death notice!"
- G. W. Ovink

http://www.designingwithtype.com/essays/1_2.html

There's a lot more there too.

hhp

Stefan Hattenbach's picture
Joined: 7 Sep 2004 - 1:22pm
0

I've tried to find the english translation for this quote by Giambattista Bodoni, but without luck I try to do it myself (from the Swedsih book I have)...

"The letters don't get their true delight, when done in haste & discomfort, nor merely done with diligence & pain, but first when they are created with love and passion."

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

Tiffany, are you sure you have that Goudy quote correct? It is normally cited as 'lowercase', not 'blackletter'. Letterspacing blackletter is actually a well established convention to indicate emphasis, in the absence of italics, which has been practiced in Germany and other countries with long blackletter traditions, for at least two centuries.

Will Powers's picture
Offline
Joined: 16 Jun 2005 - 10:32pm
0

Talbot Baines Reed, author of "A History of the Old English Letter Foundries," wrote:

"Egotism has been and remains responsible for many defects of modern typography."

Originally in "Ars Typographica," winter 1920. Reprinted, with the title "Old and New Fashions in Typography," in Heller & Meggs "Texts on Type."

So, maybe he wasn't a type designer. Still . . . . .

powers

Wynne Hunkler's picture
Offline
Joined: 6 Oct 2007 - 9:38pm
0

“In the fields of Printing & Graphic Design, it is generally agreed that the poet in our midst is the type designer.”
— Noel Martin

Wynne Hunkler
Principal | Wynnefields Creative
Web Design & Visual Communications

Sofie Beier's picture
Offline
Joined: 16 Oct 2005 - 2:33pm
0

I can’t seem to locate the quote: "Typography is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters" in any of Tracy’s writings, can someone please help me with a title and a page number?

William Berkson's picture
Offline
Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
0

Googling, I see it in several places attributed to "Steve Byers", but I don't know who that is. I looked in Tracy and then gave up. I can't remember where I first read or heard it. Good luck, I'd like to know the source also.

John Savard's picture
Offline
Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
0

I am surprised that a direct recollection confirms the saltier version of the Frederic W. Goudy quote on letterspacing blackletter (or lower-case). After all, he is an American type designer, not a British one, and the quote dates from a time prior to the release of the Austin Powers movies.

Reading the posts here led me to search out this page:

http://berlinbooks.org/brb/2009/11/typocalyse-now-the-legacy-of-jan-tsch...

When I was a child, I naïvely thought that serifs were an unnecessary and old-fashioned complication to the forms of letters. Thus, Jan Tschihold's youthful folly is entirely understandable. I propose that it was shared, in a different form, more widely than may have been recognized.

When printing began, printed books imitated manuscripts. Since the letters were formed at one point, when the matrices were made, why not use the form of letter that is esteemed as the best one - the one that is the most elaborate, that requires the most effort to make?

Despite habit, I suspect that the issues of readability with regard to blackletter were noticed by some even at the very beginning. The rapid emergence of rotunda and bastarda typefaces would seem to confirm this.

Incidentally, because rotunda and bastarda were very readable, I think it regrettable that this line of development did not continue to be followed in the creation of text types. While Lydian is readable, it is still unlikely to be used for text, and, while Optima could be said to be related, it is derived from Roman and sans-serif typefaces, and does not belong to this line of evolution at all.

The fact that Roman types were used for Latin text might be put down to authenticity alone. But the fact that blackletter was suitable for the vernacular - the reader's native language - while Roman was used for texts that are in an ancient language which the reader had learned as a second language seems to me another indication that Roman was regarded as more legible all along.

Also, in the early days of printing, it was difficult enough for printers to cast their own blackletter and roman fonts in a range of sizes. The Roman of Aldus Manutilus closely resembled that of Nicholas Jenson, and the Roman of Claude Garamond was patterned after that of Aldus Manutilus. Printers tended to use one style of roman face and stick to it.

Obviously, if one is only using one roman face, and one is cutting one's own punches, there will be motivation to make the best ones possible, and one's own personality and limitations and handwriting will all be reflected. So there will be change over time. Thus, Caslon, Baskerville, and Bell all emerged from this type of evolution, as well as Bodoni.

Given, then, that the world was emerging from a period when printing shops only had a very limited set of typefaces, it's not surprising that Jenson, Poliphilus, Bembo and Garamond all had to be revived. With only Caslon - and, later, oldstyle faces based on the one by Alexander Phemister - as competition, it's also not surprising that Scotch Roman faces - which attempted to soften the characteristics of Bodoni much as Gill Sans, later, was considered a humanist sans-serif - became the fashion.

In this earlier day, their unbracketed serifs were seen, like the lack of serifs on Helvetica, to be an abandonment of useless, unnecessary ornament. But everything needful for legibility - serifs of some sort, classical proportion - was retained.

I see Times Roman as being like Caslon - a "sweet spot" that will stay popular for a long time. When in doubt, set it in Times... is, in effect, already the maxim that the same thing, said about Caslon, once was. In the area of sans-serif, Stone and Lucida seem to be today's fashion.

When Caslon fell, the earlier oldstyle types not being available, it led to the Scotch Roman epoch which looks so dismal to today's eyes.

When Times Roman falls, though, technical factors will not pressure us to use overly condensed letters. Nor will the designs of Baskerville or Bembo be hidden and unavailable. So there is no reason for the fashions of the future to give us a long, depressing era dominated by typefaces which, to their posterity (as well as our eyes, if we could see them) look awful and thus make their popularity inexplicable.

Sofie Beier's picture
Offline
Joined: 16 Oct 2005 - 2:33pm
0

I did the same, and went for a look at the Steve Byers article, in ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ by Allan Fletcher.

The article itself is mostly a list of quotes on typography. The title of the article is ‘Typography is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters’ (with quotation marks), but with no reference to the origin of this specific quotation…

Norbert Florendo's picture
Joined: 9 Jun 2005 - 2:21pm
0

Steve Byers was one of the type development/marketing managers at Linotype, I think out of Hauppauge, NY during the mid-to-late eighties.

Dennis Hill's picture
Offline
Joined: 15 Mar 2006 - 3:52pm
0

"This font didn't take much to make. About 30 hours altogether." --Fred Nader, speaking of 'Miltown', a font made from the Matrix movie title.

Thirty hours for a quick display font? Makes me wonder what kind of spread it took to make different kinds of fonts and font sets.

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

Steve Byers was a classmate of mine at Carnegie Mellon in the mid 60s. He majored in Graphic Arts Management. He went on to a bright career as Norbert mentioned.

ChrisL

Simon 'Sye' Robertson's picture
Joined: 21 Jul 2005 - 12:42pm
0

heehee

William Berkson's picture
Offline
Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
0

Doing a little digging I see that Steve Byers was on the board of the Type Directors Club fairly recently. You might contact him through them, and find out where he got the quote.

Norbert Florendo's picture
Joined: 9 Jun 2005 - 2:21pm
0

He probably got the quote from me during a drunken stupor at ATypI in the eighties ;^)

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
0

well, I didn't see this one yet:
“Legibility, in practice, amounts simply to what one is accustomed to”. Eric Gill

and another Gill (Dr. John):
"It is freely admitted that this "testing" is far from ideal and could even be described as anecdotal."

Steve Marston's picture
Offline
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 - 10:11am
0

Type is like music in having its own beauty, and in being beautiful as an accompaniment and interpretation; and typography can be used to express a state of the soul, like the other arts and crafts. But like them it is too often used mechanically, and so the full expressiveness of this medium is unrealized. If it is used according to a rule or recipe, it becomes dull and loses vividness. Type appears at first to be a rigid medium; but like other rigid media, it is plastic to the living spirit of a craftsman.
—J.H. Mason

Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
0

.

Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
0

"Perfect typography is more a science than an art."

Tschichold, J. (1962). Consistent correlation between book page and type area (as cited by Tschichold, J. 1975/1991). The form of the book. Hartley & Marks Publishers Inc. Washington, United States.

Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
0

"Printing demands a humility of mind, for the lack of which many of the fine arts are even now floundering in self-conscious and maudlin experiments."

Warde, B. (1955). The Crystal Goblet: Sixteen Essays on Typography.

(There are multiple references, I am not sure which is most accurate)

Victor Curran's picture
Offline
Joined: 31 Dec 2008 - 3:34pm
0

@Jim: Frederic Goudy was almost as prolific a creator of bon mots as of typefaces. My personal favorite is:

Someday I'll design a typeface without a K in it, and then let's see the bastards misspell my name.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

'Continued experiment with dog today' - Eric Gill

Fredrik Andersson's picture
Joined: 10 May 2005 - 11:13am
0

John,
I believe Tiffany got the quote all right.
When Goudy in 1936 recieved a handlettered certificate of excellence set in a heavily letterspaced uppercase blackletter, those were the words he uttered.
The reason why it has changed over the years is not as much a mis-quotation as sometimes is suggested but rather a sort of evolution. I mean, it has a good punch to it, and lower case are easier to relate to.
My guess, for what it's worth.

ƒ

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

"Typography has one plain duty before it and that is to convey information in writing. No argument or consideration can absolve typography from this duty." --Emil Ruder

ChrisL

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

"After I came up with the idea to write a book that would, I hoped, become the standard, a sensation and win me the Nobel Prize for Literature, I started to feel uneasy." --Alessio Leonardi

ChrisL

Norbert Florendo's picture
Joined: 9 Jun 2005 - 2:21pm
0

A type of revolutionary novelty may be extremely beautiful in itself; but, for the creatures of habit that we are, its very novelty tends to make it illegible, at any rate to begin with.
Typography for the Twentieth-Century Reader
Aldous Huxley

Type design moves at the pace of the most conservative reader. The good type-designer therefore realizes that, for a new fount to be successful, it has to be so good that only very few recognize its novelty.
First Principles of Typography
Stanley Morison

Type well used is invisible as type, just as the perfect talking voice is the unnoticed vehicle for the transmission of words, ideas.
Printing Should Be Invisible
Beatrice Warde

If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape. The spoon and the letter are tools; one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page... When it is a good design, the reader has to feel comfortable because the letter is both banal and beautiful.
Keynote Speech/Type90
Adrian Frutiger

When we experience disappointment with the relationship with letters let's not be afraid to do what come naturally to us: Let's draw.
Graphis Typography 1 (1994)
Gerard Huerta

As we say in Berlin, there are many ways to bake a parrot.
Rhyme & Reason
Erik Spiekermann

Yes, I'm old, but I'm back in style!
Typophile Forum (2005)
Norbert Florendo

Eric West's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Mar 2005 - 8:43pm
0

Tiffany, John and Fredrik

"Men who would letterspace lower case would shag sheep" - Frederick Goudy

I noticed the discrepancy in the quote a while ago, so i had looked into it. Thats what I came up with. I wonder if there is a definitive source for this.

I saw some letterspaced lowercase the other day. Blarg. I'm sure letterspaced blackletter is equally hideous, never tried it, thats a good thing right?

Tiff, I've actually never heard that version before. I've heard the ' lowercase would steel sheep.' I prefer the 'sheep shag' version myself, but it'd be nice to find out for sure. It makes more sense if you think about it. Other than being theft of personal property, what is so disgusting about 'stealing' sheep anyway? So, if stealing sheep isn't exactly looked upon as repulsive, the shagging makes a little more sense. But I'm no goudy expert.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

I’m sure letterspaced blackletter is equally hideous, never tried it, thats a good thing right?

The keynote speaker at the ATypI conference in Copenhagen referred to a lovely typographic metaphor in one of Søren Kierkegaard's books. In the original, blackletter edition approved by the author, who took a keen interest in the typography of his books, the metaphor relates a feeling of existential alienation and disconnection to being l e t t e r s p a c e d. In a later edition, typeset in antiqua (roman) type, the typesetters interpreted the letterspaced blackletter as italics, as was normal in resetting in antiqua from blackletter originals, and then, since the metaphor was now lost, actually changed the text. So in this later edition the existential alienation was bizarrely likened to being italicised.

Eric West's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Mar 2005 - 8:43pm
0

It could be this _

“Men who would letterspace blackletter would shag sheep” - Frederick Goudy

Noah Feldman's picture
Offline
Joined: 26 Nov 2004 - 2:44am
0

Of all the achievements of the human mind, the birth of the alphabet is the most momentous.
-- Frederic Goudy

Tiffany Wardle's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
0

Yes. Hmm. I think we need to provide bibliographic information as Norbert has done. This will keep me from using quotes that are actually mis-quotes. So, if you can supply bibliography please do, if not still share your quote, maybe someone else will know.

---

I've heard that particular quote so many different ways that I'm not sure which is correct.

Tina Parker's picture
Offline
Joined: 16 Oct 2004 - 8:05pm
0

The restrictions of two-dimensional communication appealed to my need for structure and my desire to have my work speak for me. The challenge of communicating an idea or feeling within the further confines of the Latin alphabet lad me from graphic design into type design.

Carol Twombly

James Grieshaber's picture
Joined: 14 Aug 2002 - 11:00am
0

This one was used on the TypeCon2001 materials:

"We are type designers, punch cutters, type founders, compositors, printers and bookbinders from conviction and with passion. Not because we are insufficiently talented for other, higher, things, but because to us the highest things stand in the closest kinship to our own crafts." - Rudolf Koch

I can't remember the bibliographic information on this one.
____

About the Goudy quote - I thought it was "leterspace lowercase" and "bugger a sheep". But I don't have any bibliographic information to back it up.

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

“Typography has one plain duty before it and that is to convey information in writing. No argument or consideration can absolve typography from this duty.”
Emil Ruder. page 6, "Typographie", 1967.

“After I came up with the idea to write a book that would, I hoped, become the standard, a sensation and win me the Nobel Prize for Literature, I started to feel uneasy.”
"From the Cow to the Typewriter", page 8—Alessio Leonardi

ChrisL

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
0

"Watching me work is like watching a refrigerator make ice."
- M Carter

hhp

j's picture
j
Offline
Joined: 30 Jul 2004 - 1:49pm
0

There is an archived thread on here where Erik Spiekermann talked about the sheep shagging/stealing quote but I can't find it. If I remember correctly, he said Adobe was behind changing ‘shag’ to ‘steal.’ There is this though.. http://www.spiekermann.com/iblog/C1109747452/ (search for the word shag)

Tim Daly's picture
Offline
Joined: 11 Sep 2003 - 9:04am
0

"Type production has gone mad, with its senseless outpouring of new types… only in degenerate times can personality (opposed to the nameless masses) become the aim of human development" – Jan Tschicold; The New Typography; 1928
"All the old fellows stole our best ideas." – Frederic Goudy; date unrecorded
"The shapes of letter do not derive their beauty from any sensual or sentimental reminiscences. No one can say the O's roundness appeals to us only because it is like that of an apple or of a girl's breast or of the full moon. Letters are things, not pictures of things." – Eric Gill; Autobiography; 1940
"I fought linotype and montype for some time because it would not justify as well as handset could be made to do; but at last, as always happens, the machine outdid the hand, and got all the best types on it." – George Bernard Shaw; Letter to Ruari McLean, 28/3/1949
Tim

Norbert Florendo's picture
Joined: 9 Jun 2005 - 2:21pm
0

Losing Sleep
by Ephram Edward Benguiat

The following passages are taken from an undated typewritten manuscript. It's very likely these were used as notes for one of Ed's speaking engagements. There is no known date of publication.

"To me designing has never been a job or profession. It's a way of life, like a priest or rabbi."

"Doing something a long time does not mean you're good. It only means you've done it a long time."

"Doing something and getting paid for it doesn't mean you're doing it well. It only means you're doing it."

"I don't think that success is the premise to what is good or bad."

"The contributions that one makes in typography, design, and art in general cannot be, and must not be measured on how much money is involved. That would lead to total chaos. The word itself (contribution) is to give to a common purpose."

-------------------------------------
Yes, I'm old, but I'm back in style!

Jim Rimmer's picture
Offline
Joined: 2 Nov 2003 - 12:38pm
0

Hey Folks: No k in Frederic Goudy. Sheep stealers!

Jim

Andrea Emery's picture
Offline
Joined: 28 Dec 2003 - 11:00am
0

Some of my faves:

"People who love ideas must have a love of words. They will take a vivid interest in the clothes that words wear." - Beatrice Warde

"Perfect typography is certainly the most elusive of all arts. Sculpture in stone alone comes near it in obstinacy." Jan Tschichold, Homage to the Book, 1968

"Each letter should have a flirtation with the one next to it." Mac Baumwell

"Writing is not a series of strokes, but space, divided into characteristic shapes by strokes." Gerrit Noordzij

"The most popular typefaces are the easiest to read; their popularity has made them disappear from conscious cognition. It becomes impossible to tell if they are easy to read because they are commonly used, or if they are commonly used because they are easy to read." - Zuzana Licko

Andrea Emery's picture
Offline
Joined: 28 Dec 2003 - 11:00am
0

I found another version of Beatrice Warde's quote and think this one is better:

"People who love ideas must have a love of words, and that means, given a chance, they take a vivid interest in the clothes which words wear."

And two more:

"Typography, a perfect fusion of form and meaning in which beauty is born, is raised from mere craft and can claim the title of a philosophy; for it also includes ethics, that enobling factor of man's destiny. Thus the printed word is in touch with the spirit." - Raul Mario Rosarivo, 1951.

"Any work of art that makes us feel the artist tried too hard lacks clarity."
Clayton Whitehill, The Moods of Type, 1947

Norbert Florendo's picture
Joined: 9 Jun 2005 - 2:21pm
0

Some additional info on Erik Spiekermann's paraphrase of Goudy's quote --

Source:
Stop Stealing Sheep
& find out how type works
Erik Spiekermann & E.M. Ginger
First printing: December 1992
Copyright © 1993 Adobe Systems

On the first page of text, Erik added a sidebar to explain his use of Goudy's quote:

In 1936, Frederic Goudy was in New York City to receive an award for excellence in type design. Upon accepting a certificate, he took one look at it and declared that "Anyone who would letterspace black letter would steal sheep."

Eric goes on to mention:

You might have noticed that our book cover reads "lower case," while here it reads "black letter" -- two very different things.

He then added a small sample of CAPITALS, lower case and black letter (printed in black letter) to illustrate the difference to the uninformed reader.

Eric continues:

We're not sure how "black letter" got changed to "lower case," but we've always known it to be the latter; whichever way, it makes infinite sense.

-------------------------------------
Yes, I'm old, but I don't shag sheep!

Vincent Connare's picture
Offline
Joined: 6 May 2005 - 4:33am
0

'If you don't get your type warm it will be just a smooth, commonplace, third-rate piece of good machine technique - no use at all for setting down warm human ideas - just a box full of rivets... By jickity, I'd like to make a type that fitted 1935 all right enough, but I'd like to make it warm - so full of blood and personality that it would jump at you.
From Dwiggins fictional argument over the modern age of steel and speed.
William Addison Dwiggins

Bert Vanderveen's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Jun 2004 - 8:19am
0

Googled with "letterspace sheep Goudy":

http://www.eyewire.com/magazine/columns/robin/blackletter/

Blackletter it appears to be. Confirmed by Wikipedia (?):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederic_Goudy

Thierry Blancpain's picture
Joined: 15 May 2005 - 4:30am
0

Helvetica is the jeans, and Univers the dinner jacket. Helvetica is here to stay . Adrian Frutiger

In a way, The Beatles are the Helvetica of pop; just like Helvetica is The Beatles of typefaces . Experimental Jetset

If you have no intuitive sense of design, then call yourself an "information architect" and only use Helvetica . David Carson

Anyone who uses Helvetica knows nothing about typefaces . Wolfgang Weingart

I discovered that I never really used Helvetica but I like to look at it. I like the VW beetle, too, although I've never driven one . Stefan Sagmeister

I have never designed a logotype without first trying it in Helvetica. It is still the most versatile, classic and readable of all typefaces. Steff Geissbuhler

Any good typeface can be completely destroyed when misused or extensively overused. Helvetica seemed to sustain a beating like no other. Still fresh, still popular Helvetica is king . Alexander Gelman

There was once a typeface that had the reputation of being more legible and functional than all the others. It was used everywhere and for everything, from signs to logos. Then one day readers couldn't stand seeing it anymore and decided to stop reading it – despite its superior legibilty. Bit by bit designers forgot about it and it was only used by lay people. Then it was rediscovered for a while and in fashion again. Even books were published about it . Ruedi Baur

Helvetica is the typeface for a deserted island . Friedrich Friedl

We hate to like Helvetica . Hamish Muir

I remember a time at Yale when my work was being critiqued by Paul Rand. Mr. Rand told me only to use Helvetica as a display face never in text, then he squinted, leaned in, and whispered in my ear, "because Helvetica looks like dogshit in text" . Kyle Cooper

(all from the flyer to the book «Helvetica - Homage to a Typeface», edited by lars müller)
12 x 16 cm, 256 pages, 800 illustrations, hardcover.
--- more infos on www.lars-mueller-publishers --

Hank Zane's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Jul 2003 - 11:43am
0

Hey, what's going on!? Why hasn't anyone quoted me yet?

Andrea Emery's picture
Offline
Joined: 28 Dec 2003 - 11:00am
0

"I'm also interested in calligraphy and occasional book-burning." - Sergej Malinovski

(careful what you wish for... : ) )

Andrea Emery's picture
Offline
Joined: 28 Dec 2003 - 11:00am
0

"In former times producing a typeface was an effort architectural in scale. A typeface was exquisitely expensive to cut. The choice to make one had a you-bet-your-company gravity to it." - Mike Parker, Bitstream

"Set a page in Fournier against another in Caslon and another in Plantin and it is as if you heard three different people delivering the same discourse — each with impeccable pronunciation and clarity, yet each through the medium of a different personality."
- Beatrice Warde, 1933

"Discipline in typography is a prime virtue. Individuality must be secured by means that are rational. Distinction needs to be won by simplicity and restraint. It is equally true that these qualities need to be infused wiht a certain spirit and vitality, or they degenerate into dullness and mediocrity." - Stanley Morison