Sources: Hand-Lettering vs. Typography

Alessio's picture

Hey fellow typophiles,

I just wrote an article on the premise that typography and hand-lettering are, in fact, very different disciplines (*gasp*), in order to clarify the definition because of the rampant misuse of terminology (we've all seen plenty of "35 Samples of Great Hand-Lettered Typography" articles). However, one of the reviewers was disturbed by this claim and demanded sources from "prominent typographers both contemporary and historical."

Does anyone know of sources that may satisfy this reviewer? I have a few quotes from books that I own that I can use, as well as Jessica Hische's talk at the Frontend 2011 conference (http://www.frontend2011.com/video/jessica-hische.html), but she is in fact a lettering artist and not a typographer, and I'd love to see if there are any serious typographers who'd have quotes on this. Thanks so much!

Celeste's picture

Do you mean « typographers » or « type designers » ?

Alessio's picture

Either typographers or type designers. Sadly, the job of the "typographer" means very little in our modern digital landscape, but there are still people who set type manually (letterpressers, etc.) or specialize in typography even if they use digital means.

In fact, even quotes from letterers would do, since I think the reviewer is persisting in using "typographer" to mean anyone having anything to do with letters.

Celeste's picture

Typography is writing with prefabricated letters (Gerrit Noordzij), that kind of things ?

Alessio's picture

Perfect, that's a great one! Anything that can be cited. Thanks!

hrant's picture

Any actual letterer or type designer can immediately clarify to any terminologically-challenged person that the difference is huge.

People who don't appreciate the difference are either merely users who haven't "felt it on their skin", or intellectual slobs.

hhp

oldnick's picture

So, what makes the reviewer a Recognized Authority on the subject? His say-so? A wide and well-respected body of work on the subject? No particular reason? Come on: work with me here…

Alessio's picture

@Hrant - that's what the article attempted to do, and other reviewers seemed very positive on the article. I think this reviewer missed the point, and is probably not an intellectual slob but merely someone who doesn't like being told that they've used terms incorrectly!

@Oldnick - Probably none of the above, but as he/she is a reviewer for the magazine, I must satisfy their demand if I want to get paid for the work!

hrant's picture

OK, let's find the right kind of source. Does it have to be in print?

BTW, if you go to Noordzij you're opening a can of worms - remember he's the guy who claims "there's no essential difference between printing and handwriting" or some such codswallop.

hhp

Celeste's picture

— Hrant
This is exactly the reason why I quoted Noordzij in the first place : once you’ve got your head around this “can of worms” (I love that image, by the way), everything seems much easier to articulate. Well, it worked for me, that’s for sure.

hrant's picture

But unless this reviewer is the type of person to engage in a decade of argumentation about this on Typophile :-) all that's going to happen is he's going to use any such ambiguity against Joseph's stance (which hopefully we all know is watertight).

BTW in my view pretty much anything Noordzij has said is valid in proportion to its distance from type.

hhp

Alessio's picture

It wouldn't have to be in print, but preferably something that could be linked to or cited from a publication.

Haha, that is a good point about Noordzij! I looked up his site and it seems that what he is saying is simply that they're both a graphic representation of a spoken language, but there are major practical differences.

The premise of the article is that with the resurgence of mainstream popularity of type and lettering there has been a lot of confusion of terms among those who haven't put much study into it. It explains the basic definitions of typography and lettering, highlighting why we shouldn't use "typography" to mean lettering as is so commonly done, and gives a historical background of the development of each. Not much to argue with. The other reviewers were very positive.

chrisburton's picture

What does Typography and Lettering mean to this person?

hrant's picture

Sounds like an extremely pertinent piece! Please let me/us know when it's out.

they're both a graphic representation of a spoken language

Which is of course more codswallop.

BTW can you get a hold of Erik Spiekermann? I'm sure he could put the nail in the coffin for you.

hhp

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