Famous Quotes from Type Designers

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Boris Mahovac's picture
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"Typography? Aaah, lots of fun--no money!"
-- unknown passanger on a train from Gatwick Airport to London, England, after asking me what I do for a living. I was on my way to Type90 A.Typ.I conference in Oxford.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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David, spooky: although I think I'd never seen that exact quote before, I actually read alphabet for elephant! Only your qualification made me go back and see elephant. I guess being very familiar with Goudy's strong* affection for the Latin alphabet, the power of suggestion skewed the bouma to an extent I don't think I've ever experienced before. Wow.

* To me, overly so.

hhp

Miguel Sousa's picture
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Somewhere around now my brain explodes, leaving a real mess on the dining room table where I do most of the work on my laptop.
Thomas Phinney

Miguel Sousa's picture
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I mean, ωhat the fυck?
John Hudson

Tim Rolands's picture
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"The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring." -- Warren Chappell

Roballoo!'s picture
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This one has always stuck with me:

"To be married to a wife who can set type is happiness indeed."
~ Walter Tracy, Letters of Credit

I think this would be a great quote for the typographer matchmaking service I plan on starting :)

Dennis Hill's picture
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"When a type design is good it is not because each individual letter of the alphabet is perfect in form, but because there is a feeling of harmony and unbroken rhythm that runs through the whole design, each letter kin to every other and to all." - F. Goudy

Dennis Hill's picture
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Originally I thought this was quotes from famous Type Designers, and I'm not sure this is a famous quote, but I kind of like it. I couldn't bring myself to actually insert one for effect though.

Font is Cheapskate by Pat Broderick. Quote is by Susanna Sturgis

Casey Hickey's picture
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I saw one of Gill's grumpy quotes in here, and figured that I'd add another from An Essay On Typography.

[Writing] is in fact an entirely outworn, decayed and corrupt convention whose chief & most conspicuous character is its monumental witness to the conservatism, laziness and irrationality of men and women.

I'm counting down the days until I turn into a didact!

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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One of my favorite news items of the new millennium:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/3103421.stm

hhp

Casey Hickey's picture
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Nice link hrant, I bet that would have made Gill all sorts of happy!

Andrea Emery's picture
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In anticipation of TypeCon2006:

"Typomania is curable but not fatal. Unfortunately."
— Erik Spiekermann, TypeCon2005

"Slikify it"
— Erik Spiekermann, TypeCon2005, in reference to the redigitizing of the FF Bau font

"We're very concerned with language and how language works. We're trying to engage people rather than dictate how they should be thinking."
— Neville Brody, TypeCon2005

"Its focus wasn't on the written word but how the word was written".
— Neville Brody, TypeCon2005, in reference to Fuse Magazine

Florian Hardwig's picture
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Andi Emery said:
“Typomania is curable but not fatal. Unfortunately.”
— Erik Spiekermann, TypeCon2005

The Helvetica movie features a variation of that by Erik himself:
“I’m obviously a typomaniac—which is an incurable if not mortal disease.”
Aggravation?

Jackie Frant's picture
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I've always heard that quote as:
"The bad news is you are a ______-phile; the good news is it's incurable."

Fill in the hobby of your choice. Used as an opening line for bad speech makers... Normally the rest of the speech goes downhill from that point -- along with the bad chicken dinner that goes with it.

fpimentel's picture
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"The Ardent Hymn that Unites Peoples"
— Pablo Neruda, Ode to Typography

not a designer, but quite typelover to put on.

Angelos Bakas's picture
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"One of the many unforseen consequences of typography, the rise of nationalism is maybe the best known"
Marshall McLuhan

(but I can't find the source. I could be misquoting slightly)

Steve Marston's picture
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“Of the many unforeseen consequences of typography, the emergence of nationalism is, perhaps, the most familiar.”

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Simon Daniels's picture
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Marshall McLuhan, what font did he design again?

Cheers, Si

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Wasn't it WTC Our Bodoni or something?

hhp

Chris Lozos's picture
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Si,
Don't you remember? It only came in a medium weight, I think itwas called Message :-)

ChrisL

Simon Daniels's picture
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Chris, you know I threw you that pitch so you could hit a home run. Well done! I think it was actually "Massage Medium" - but that's always been disputed.

Chris Lozos's picture
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I would rather get a massage than a message any day :-)
But I will take that lying down.

ChrisL

Steve Marston's picture
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THIS IS
A PRINTING OFFICE

CROSSROADS OF CIVILISATION
REFUGE OF ALL THE ARTS
AGAINST THE RAVAGES OF TIME
ARMOURY OF FEARLESS TRUTH
AGAINST WHISPERING RUMOUR
INCESSANT TRUMPET OF TRADE

FROM THIS PLACE WORDS MAY FLY ABROAD
NOT TO PERISH ON WAVES OF SOUND
NOT TO VARY WITH THE WRITER'S HAND
BUT FIXED IN TIME HAVING BEEN VERIFIED IN PROOF
FRIEND YOU STAND ON SACRED GROUND
THIS IS A PRINTING OFFICE

Beatrice Warde (1932)

http://www.nenne.com/typography/bw3.html

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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The Goudy letter spacing quote? I believe the truth is the old man said that line so many times, that it is pointless to argue a definitive version exists. Just credit a source, that'll give your citation value.

But certainly, there's no k at the end of Frederic.

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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Typography is the most influential of all the arts:
it sends knowledge abroad as heaven sends the rain.
One fructifies the soul; the other man’s intelligence.

1923 ATF SPECIMEN BOOK

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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Plenty of white space and generous line spacing,
and don’t make the type size too miserly.
Then you will be assured of a product fit for a king.

GIAMBATTISTA BODONI

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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A good typographer does what he should do,
not what he wants to do.

MICHAEL RUSSEM / MICHAEL BIXLER

Often said & written by friend Michael Russem, but just as often cited by our mentor Michael Bixler

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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As the saying goes,
type is a beautiful group of letters,
not a group of beautiful letters.


MATTHEW CARTER

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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Standardization, instead of individualization.
Cheap books, instead of private press editions.
Active literature, instead of passive leather bindings.

JAN TSCHICHOLD

Terrence Chouinard's picture
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 - 11:55am
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By a typographer, I do not mean a printer,
as he is vulgarly accounted. By a typographer,
I mean such as one, who by his own judgement,
from solid reasoning within himself,
can either perform, or direct others to perform
from the beginning to the end,
all the handy-works & physical operations
relating to typographie.

JOSEPH MOXON

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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Originally published in U&lc.

"I think it's rather difficult to create a new typeface design, or for that matter, to create a new anything that's in everyday use. A new piece of music would parallel the creation of a new typeface. For example, the notes of music don't change, and the letters of the alphabet don't change, either. It's a matter of how they're put together. The most important feature must be that its newness has a reflection all its own and fits into the pattern of today's generation of graphic designers. The new creation must have something in its character that makes the potential user sit up and take notice. These typographic traits could create a popular demand but we must also consider that this popularity may only be a temporary. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I know we all feel our designs will last forever, but some things like music don't last either. It's like 'here today and forgotten tomorrow.' Anyway, you and I can be sure of one thing: the number of typefaces will surely increase." —Ed. Benguiat

Chris Lozos's picture
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James,

Once in a while you get something like the Bach B minor Mass or Beethoven's 9th and they stick around for a few hundred years. Of course, many of us would be happy if one of our faces lasted as long as "Cant Get No Satisfaction" ;-)

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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Chris,

Most will likely end up as [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhYLz63csS0|"Incense and Peppermints"]]

Chris Lozos's picture
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More likely, the B side of a cover version of "Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain" :-)

John Savard's picture
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Surely you mean "MacArthur Park".

Chris Lozos's picture
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Damn, I knew there was something wrong with that title!

Eric Kelsey's picture
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“The advent of the computer generated the
phenomena called desktop publishing. This
enabled anyone who could type the freedom of
using any available typeface and do any kind of
distortion. It was a disaster of mega proportions.
A cultural pollution of incomparable dimension.
As I said, at the time, if all people doing desktop
publishing were doctors we would all be dead!”

— Massimo Vignelli

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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I think that the designers of menswear had a similar feeling towards Massimo's menswear collection as Massimo has towards desktop publishing.

I would dismiss anything Massimo says regarding type or typography. Additionally, he is not and has never been a type designer, so his quote does not belong in this thread.

Eric Kelsey's picture
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You're right. He isn't a type designer. I didn't read the title all that closely.

I don't agree with some of his opinions. I am particularly referring to his statement that there aren't more than a handful of good fonts. I wouldn't dismiss anything he has to say about type or typography though.

I like this quote and I think he makes a good point. It has become much easier to make a typeface due to the computer and the result is a lot of bad typefaces. It is clever the way he compares desktop publishing to the medical industry.

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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Just another one of the "old guys" complaining about the computer.

The computer may have made it a bit easier to make a typeface, and there are no doubt many really crappy typefaces out there, but it has also give the graphic design industry the largest collection of great typefaces in history.

As I said, at the time, if all people doing desktop publishing were doctors we would all be dead

More crap from Massimo. Following his analogy; If some were doctors, yes some might be dead, but the others would have saved an awful lot of lives.

Eric Kelsey's picture
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Very good point that by making it easier to produce a typeface the computer also made it possible to produce more good typefaces. I like your optimistic view on the the subject.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Massimo sounds like he was just lamenting the loss of revenue to others. In his era (and mine) designers made most of their money on fairly mundane work that was simple to design and could easily be turned over to lesser-paid staff. We used to call this grunt work. This freed up the top-dogs to spend more time on show pieces yet still collect on the grunt work done by their staff. It was a steady moneymaker with plenty of repeat business--as in "update this monthly catalog with new prices". Yes, the computer turned this into a database publishing issue with automated regional versioning and distribution. Yes, there also was a huge birth of hack designers now in the workforce who knew noting about design but plenty about software usage. So goes the world. We have always had competition to deal with. Some of it was only in price and not in quality. If a client didn't give a damn about good design, he hired a hack and saved a few bucks. That is the way the world works, Massimo. Get over it already--it is 2011 now, not 1965. The NYC grip also faded with the internet. You did not have to be a 5 minute cab ride to all the big clients to get their work any more. Sure, now you can get both crap design and good design from Manhattan to Malaysia. Welcome to the global economy, we are all better off for it except a very few of the elite and late adopters perhaps.

G.V. Sreekumar's picture
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If beauty of music is between the notes, beauty of typography is in the white spaces: counters, letter space, word space and leading !!

paul d hunt's picture
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Bill, I think you have successfully pinned your quote to Walter Tracy thanks to the wonders of the internet. :^p Did you ever find a positive attribution of this quote to him? I could not find it in a search of Letters of Credit on google books.

William Berkson's picture
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Paul, I couldn't find it flipping through Letters of Credit either, which was the reason I was hesitant in my original post in this thread. I still don't know. Just checking, I do see that Tina Parker, above, is right about it being in Font, Logo, and Lettering Bible by Leslie Cabarga. And there it quotes Matthew Carter (p. 200): "As the saying goes, type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters." Evidently Carter thinks he got it from somewhere else. I believe that in a Typophile thread, David Berlow confirmed that it was originally Walter Tracy, but with no reference.

It could be that I heard it aurally from Matthew Carter at TypeCon, with a reference to Tracy, but I can't remember. So to solve the mystery you might ask Matthew Carter.

paul d hunt's picture
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I thought it was MC too, until I dug up this thread. But your wording of the same sentiment from this thread can be found in several places on the net with attribution to Walter Tracy, but never with any reference. :^/

William Berkson's picture
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As I said, Carter, as quoted in Cabarga, indicates that it's not original with him, and he was just quoting it. So it's not solved. Berlow seemed to be sure it was Tracy. It would be nice to nail down the source, because it's something like the first rule of type design.

Chris Lozos's picture
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I have heard that quote many times, including from, Carter. I don't recall him being very positive about the attribution.

Chris Lozos's picture
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"... if all people doing desktop
publishing were doctors we would all be dead!”

— Massimo Vignelli"

And if all doctors had stopped learning and never used any tools developed after 1960, how many of us would now be dead? Me, for sure--thanks to a quadruple bypass operation.

William Berkson's picture
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Dezcom: more than a beautiful group of letters! Keep on ticking and drawing:)