- from Cosmopolitan, July 1914
I’m going to propose that the art and artistry of lettering is not less valued today. I’m guessing that the businessmen of the sign painter era were just as annoying to work with. There is something inherent in hand lettering that allows for more innovation. Every time the letters are drawn they have to be reinterpreted. Often within the same word you’ll see diﬀerent treatments of the same letter. If designers were to custom render letterforms more frequently in our era, we would see an amazing typographic renaisance.
> There is something inherent in hand lettering that allows for more innovation. I think I know what you mean, but I don’t really agree. Not that innovation is diﬃcult in lettering, but it’s certainly not any harder on the computer, especially now with the amazing potential of OpenType (a small example being the House Industries eﬀorts). hhp
Then there was Beowolf, Letteror’s brilliant “random” font which generates each character diﬀerently each time it is used…. http://www.letterror.com/foundry/beowolf/index.html It’s not exactly the same as designing each letter with diﬀerent treatments speciﬁc to each time it occurs, but it suggests that the technology might be close to allowing that very thing. David
Good example. And actually, the fact that the computer allows the process to be codiﬁed and minutely controlled takes it far above paint-on-walls. hhp
I agree that we have seen somewhat of a renaisance in the last few years with typographic experimentation via the computer. However, a sign or logo that uses an umodiﬁed font (whether there are a million or ten million fonts available) is still constrained in ways that a sign created from scratch isn’t. In other words, I think there is a false separation between typographers and type designers. If more typographers were to create the letters they use for logos, titles, signs etc., we would see much more diversity and innovation.
> a sign or logo that uses an umodiﬁed font …. is still constrained Totally. Even a modiﬁed one is constrained. We just have to live with it — it’s inherent. > I think there is a false separation between typographers Good point. And it kinda relates to this very strange thought I had 4 years ago (and it won’t leave me): once a typeface is used, it is violated. Not used by a third-party, mind you; I’m talking even the designer setting his own ﬁrst specimen. hhp
I agree 1000%, Christian. It drives me nuts to see people using an unmodiﬁed font (particularly common ones like system fonts and Image Club stuﬀ) for a logotype.
Yes, and how about all those designers of menus for Mexican Food restaurants who feel obligated to use Image Club’s Fajita typeface. Straight to the Hall of Shame. bj
New age hand lettering at http://www.carteleonline.com/. Thanks to typographica. Stephen
You know, there’s plenty of digital lettering being done these days, too. It’s not all typeface design.
These guys earned more than today’s type designers.
John Studden is an amazing sign painter based in LA who is following in the footsteps of guys like John Downer. See Studden’s work at www.letterheadfonts.com. I just purchased New Trajan and I’m eagerly waiting for it to be sent via email. Finally, some lowercase to go with the majestic Trajan uppercase. And the price….they are giving this away at $27.50. bj
I guess I’m just slow to get to all the type sites and blogs, but Trajan lowercase is getting poo-poohed elsewhere. I will give it a test drive when i get it. bj
If you look around, Adobe’s Trajan is everywhere, especially on book and movie titles. New Trajan looks pretty good and i’d recommend it for display but not necessarily for text. a few caveats: Letter spacing is a little bit tight and will have to be monkeyed with…a few letterpairs could have been kerned better. The font itself is essentially a hybrid of Trajan and Americana, also by Adobe. For the price and the usefulness, I’d recommend it. just OPO. bj
> Finally, some lowercase to go with the majestic Trajan uppercase. Sure, but it’s not a highly original thing to do: There’s Edward Catich (although I think he died before ﬁnishing up), Gerard Unger (although he -fortunately- doesn’t take Trajan too literally), and then there’s Latina by Inigo Jerez Quintana (with a sans too). This last one won a couple of large competitions, but I can’t ﬁnd a good sample now. hhp
Hello Andrew. Go LSU!
A nice ﬁnd. Thanks! Of course, these guys were hand-letterers and sign painters, and these professions are still alive today. It’s a bit of a shame that we don’t get a bit more discussion of this sort of work at Typophile.
If you’re into this sort of thing, dont forget that John Downer is doing a sign painting workshop at TypeCon2002 this year.
see items #2 and #24 at http://www.signmuseum.com/exhibits/library/25books/topbooks.html
Slightly oﬀ topic, but amazing nonetheless: http://www.forgotten-ny.com/
Perhaps…one might conclude that in times past, the art and artistry of lettering was much more important/more valued/more powerful than it is today. I think, for example, we have yet to have a discussion here at Typoophile about the title and credits letterers of movies from the days when it was all done by hand. It never ceases to amaze me how brilliant these “old-time” movie-titling artists were.
Even the brilliant signpainters of the last century (my grandpa was one of them) were rookies compared to the European signpainters of the century before. Check out this book for some cool examples and mucho typographical inspiration.
“Entrez” I found pretty inspirational too: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1579651704/qid=1022018643/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/102-7089750-2502561 hhp