Helvetica film World Premiere

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Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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Nicola is indeed a guy.

...just a watermellon.
chuckle. Actually that was meant a bit tongue in cheek.

because they didn’t have a serif first
Not directly no. But indirectly yes, because they don't derive from romans. It was his method he criticised. I don't think there is any getting around that. Indirectly & directly he is giving Adrian a bit of a bash in the article. I am not sure he isn't correct about the real italics.

Hrant, you are in favor of slanted romans if I recall correctly. That's right isn't it?

I have to admit that I like real italics better in general if they are good. But I do think a dogmatic approach is a dubious one.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I love slanted-romans. I mean for an italic in the traditional role.
But I also love highly expressive italics for stand-alone display usage.

hhp

William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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Eben, thinking about this further, my feeling is that Majoor is making a mistake of thinking that there is *one* best way to do things in type.

Now, there are definitely *better and worse* ways of doing italics. The sloped roman of Romulus--otherwise great face--is to my eyes a failure, in that it is dull and lifeless by comparison to the roman, and thus also is weak as an emphasis companion for the roman.

But Perpetua's italic, which is largely a slanted roman, with the only 5 italic forms in the lower case and 2 in the upper--and some additional shaping of bowls--is wonderful.

Majoor's idea of designing a serif and then a companion sans I suspect is a very good idea.

But I don't get how this is related to the issue of the italic. After all, the italic is a different alphabet than the roman. His argument that Helvetica should have had an italic based on Walbaum Italic because it was based on Walbaum I don't follow at all. It might work, but it might not. The eye is the arbiter, not a pedantic view of what historical precedent needs to be followed and what not.

I am all in favor of being inspired by theory to try new things--theory as inspiration. But when theory becomes doctrinaire, limiting possibilities, I think it can be harmful.

ps. Majoor's analysis of how following the skeleton of the high-contrast Walbaum with a relatively mono-line sans resulted in excessively closed forms is right on. And the quote from Paul Rand is great.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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> Majoor is making a mistake of thinking that
> there is *one* best way to do things in type.

Yes. Chirographically. :-)

> it is dull and lifeless by comparison to the roman, and
> thus also is weak as an emphasis companion for the roman.

This does not follow.

> the italic is a different alphabet than the roman.

This is not a beneficial view of things.

> The eye is the arbiter, not a pedantic view of what
> historical precedent needs to be followed and what not.

Agreed (mostly).

> Majoor’s analysis of how following the skeleton

Skeletons are for biology students.

hhp

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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Yes. Chirographically. :-)

Yup.

the italic is a different alphabet than the roman + This is not a beneficial view of things.

Bill, when you say that it's a different alphabet you mean that it's forms are distinct. That seems like an easy observation to agree with.

Hrant, when you say it's not a beneficial point of view you are just getting at the idea that the sloped roman aught not to be dismissed utterly & dogmatically correct? Or are you saying that what's wrong with 'real' italics is their greater afinity of form with their chirographic roots? Or both perhaps? Anyway what is it that you are getting at?

I think Martin doesn't support his thory well enough because his prescription of following a serif ( while it looks bang-on in terms of a speculative history of the root of helvetica's forms ) did also result in the closed forms he so rightly criticises. What I am saying is that his example seems to argue against his alter assertion rather than supporting it. He might argue that a more suitable serif would result ina better solution but I think Erik Speikermann's approach not to leave out Andre Gutler's Haas Unica seems far closer to the ideal.

Skeletons are for biology students.

When you say this I wonder about the broader picture of how a sans would be used. Martin is thinking in terms of a serif & sans family. I have been thinking in terms of a serif on it's own. Probably if you want to make a matched set of families paying some attention to 'skeletons' could have some degree of value as a starting point if not as a determanistic model. But I am not sure I like the idea of matched families all that well. It seems like matching different faces gives a more plesant complex and resonant result provided it is done well.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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What I mean is that seeing the italic as a "different
alphabet" is counter to how an italic should work.

> his example seems to argue against his alter assertion

This is typical of the chirographically inclined.
Think of their characteristic notan lip-service.

> paying some attention to ‘skeletons’ could have some degree of value

In terms of saving development time/thought, yes.
In terms of readability, no.

hhp

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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How should an italic work? I think of it as a way of providing emphasis or indicating difference. Maybe as an aide in hierarchy. And for style last of all. And by italic I mean either a slanted roman or a 'true' italic. Is that the kind of working you mean?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Yes, I mean to highlight a snippet in a body of Roman. Enough so you can't miss it (which means that so-called "upright Italics" cannot work) but not so much that you're tempted to fixate on it from the previous line; and without skewing the atmosphere of the whole. For more on this please read my reply to the third question from the bottom in my Daidala interview:
http://daidala.com/25apr2004.html

hhp

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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I see it's that Networks thing I found the link to. It looks like a gently sloped roman in a gently lighter weight. Is this the thing you mean?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Huh? What's "that Networks thing"?

hhp

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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Oh! I see. 3rd from the BOTTOM.

BTW - 'Network' was your word in the interview. You seemed to be talking about a network of forms - it did actiually seem applicable.

It sounds like the best shot I have at understanding what you mean is in "a cheap paperback novel called The Interior Life by Katherine Blake".

Got a scan?

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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This is the 1st image I found

http://daidala.com/system.html

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Actually it did sound a lot like you were talking about Patria's Italic scheme! Well, obviously I do like such a scheme. :-) BTW, you might also notice that: the x-height is slightly smaller; it's narrower; and some forms have been changed*. I employed such a full battery of differences between the Italic and Roman because of the slightness of the slant.

* Not because of chirography, and not to trick fellow type designers into liking it (although this is not a tactic entirely without merit :-) but because of aesthetics.

> Got a scan?

Click on "The Interior Life" in the interview.

hhp

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Carl Crossgrove's picture
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Joined: 8 Sep 2003 - 2:07pm
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Hey, Surprise! A second screening was added in San Francisco Wed. June 13, at 10 pm. Get tix now!

Stuart Marks's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2004 - 12:00am
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Darn, I was too slow; both screenings of Helvetica in SF are now sold out. Anybody got a spare ticket?

Stuart Marks's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2004 - 12:00am
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My plea has been answered! I'll be at the 10pm show tomorrow. Are any SF typophilers going to be there? (Of course they will, it's sold out!) I'll be wearing one of Hrant's "Helveeta" shirts....