How tight is that?!

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Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
How tight is that?!
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Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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I might start carrying that around in my wallet to show off every time some old crank starts ranting about how horrible computers have made design.

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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Just as digital type allowed grunge and all the other lovely experiments we've been looking at for 20 years, photo-type liberated a whole generation of typographers from the confines of metal type and standard spacing. It's not as bad as some, not as good as others. Just a moment in typographic time.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Just imagine the art director asking the copywriter for a headline with no "g"s.
Then getting out a scalpel blade and chopping off all the ascenders.

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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Not tight enough!

Arno Enslin's picture
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Joined: 30 Jun 2009 - 3:48am
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Stelazine is a medicine against Agoraphobia, isn’t it?

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Brian, there's a maximum pixel width to images posted in Typophile, so they don't go into scroll mode.

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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I see. Apparently, it's 590px. I should've checked that first before posting and image that's about 20 pixels wider!

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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That is indeed tight, but I'm afraid it doesn't count, as it hasn't been commercially published.
And self-publishing (eg clever t-shirts) doesn't count either.
Here's another for your wallet, James:

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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The reason Nick's first example is good and Brian's is shit is in the details. In Nick's example, look at the consistency of rhythm as the round forms touch the straights, wonderful! It might be overly tight for today's taste, but it was done with skill and a sensitivity to typographic rhythm. Nick's second example demonstrates the same attention to detail, Brian's looks like crap.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Close but not touching was the way of the world in the 70s-80s. If you cut your typography teeth back then, tight looks normal. Take a look at old U&lc and see how even body text was tight. A lot of it has to do with the fit of the type. The type designed then had big x-height and a tight fit. Remember the old Apple ads in ITC Garamond?

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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Haha. Mine wasn't meant to look good - just be super tight. I can definitely see the rhythm in the original example, it doesn't look bad, just tight.

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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That was the style when I first started trying to set and spec my own type. It seemed sophisticated at the time, even rebellious. There was something "now" about it. It took a few years to unlearn it and discover that there is more to spacing type than "as tight as possible".

Rob Sutton's picture
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Joined: 7 Sep 2006 - 3:54am
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I started in the late 80's so just caught the end of this period and remember seeing the first ads that were set really open, lots of condensed sans fonts super spaced out. I'm actually seeing a lot of stuff now that looks like the Stelazine ad.

Good thing about "tight as possible" makes kerning a lot easier!

John Brandt's picture
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Joined: 30 Nov 2003 - 12:10pm
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I'm ecstatic that the "everything must be loose" trend is dying to over, from jeans to type. Many of us brought up loving especially the work of Herb Lubalin (U&lc, Avant Garde to Lubalin, Smith & Carnase and friends) will probably forever prefer tighter settings for advertising and display work. Sure, many are absolutely correct, massively tight/overlapping doesn't work for everything, and looser sets generally work much better for applications such as books and other long materials. The one thing I've always tried to get across to anyone I trained in proper spacing and kerning is not so much demanding everything be set loose or super tight (which remains my preference), but that it be done evenly. To me, the worst spacing is trying to mathematically space each character exactly the same distance apart (which I still see way too much in some large display applications). Anything from super tight/touching to quite loose can look great if proper visual "rules" are followed. To some, that can be the hardest thing to teach, but it's always worth the effort to achieve fine typography, as well as optimal readability and legibility.

Robert Trogman's picture
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Joined: 7 May 2006 - 6:10pm
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Aaron Burns started this with the Visual Graphics Typositor

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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Robert, I always thought that Aaron Burns' Photolettering pioneered all of this tight spacing using the Rutherford photo typesetter, which, I believe, existed long before VGC's Typositor.

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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Aaron Burns was not connected (business-wise) with Photo-Lettering until ITC was formed, although he was an advocate for tight typography. The Rutherford machines go back to the 1930s and Photo-Lettering Inc. was founded on them (1936).

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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If I had a nickel for all the old typographers who claimed to be responsible for absurdly tight spacing…

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Blame phototype, James :-)

Tomi Haaparanta's picture
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006 - 3:16am
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Nobody remembers TNT (Tight, Not Touching) or TAT (Titght And Touching)? I'm too lazy to rummage my books, but I'm sure those two are portrayed in at least one book.