Giving talk about type

Claire Bibio's picture

Hi all! I have to give a talk for about 7-10 minutes as part of my English course at the university. It has to be an informative talk on a topic of my interest and I have to describe how things are done. I am into typography and would like to give a talk related to it, but I have no idea where to start or what to talk about which will be interesting as well as simple for the students to understand. Can you suggest what I could do or talk about.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Do the whole thing on Hubert Jocham.

hrant's picture

That's pretty short, so keep it focused. Maybe explain how a drawing of a letter (like a scripty "L") is scanned into a computer and bézier curves warpped around it (automatically and/or manually). If you have time mention the following: some people don't scan drawings, they draw with béziers directly; and if you're making a font you have to do that to hundreds of characters (show some Vietnamese ones) and they all have to harmonize bigtime (show a word with one letter in the middle slightly too dark).

And record yourself in case it comes out good enough to educate the masses with! :-)

hhp

PublishingMojo's picture

If you're speaking to an audience of students who are not type designers or graphic designers, they may wonder why typography is considered a specialized skill. After all, most people have a word processing program that lets them choose fonts and layouts, so why should they pay a professional?

I like to compare type to music. I love music, but I have never studied music theory. Some kinds of music make me feel happy, other kinds make me feel relaxed, other kinds make me want to get up and dance--or march. I don't know why music has these effects on me, but I feel them whether I understand them or not. The composer of the music creates these effects by choosing certain melodic lines, harmonies, rhythms, etc.

Type design works the same way. The designer uses curves and lines, contrast, x-height, letterspacing, line spacing, line length, etc., to communicate to the reader that the text is is rigorous or accessible, elegant or edgy. The typographer's unique professional skill is that he or she has learned how the characteristics of type resonate in the eye and brain of the reader, and how to use type to amplify the message that is being read.

You could show several examples that illustrate this point (and maybe play a little music, too).

J. Tillman's picture

While 10 minutes can seem like a long time while you're talking, it is really only enough to give an overview of one aspect of typography. What I would choose, because you can show a lot of pictures, is font appropriateness, which fonts can be used for different topics. You could show pictures of both display and text fonts.
Fonts for business reports, like Skolar and others.
Unhip over-used fonts, like Times New Roman or MS Comic Sans.
Warm, friendly readable fonts for a cookbook, such as New Cuisine or Coline or maybe even Turnip.
Elegant fonts for a serious art book. Make sure they're not too thin.
Fonts that have good italics (which in my opinion means dark and full strength) for books with a lot of foreign words. Or fonts with complete Western and Eastern European coverage for this same category.
Book fonts, here are some nice dark ones: http://typophile.com/node/51171
Fonts for newspapers
Fonts for romance books
Sturdy fonts if you suspect the output will be photocopied a lot.
Of course there are MANY different opinions about what is appropriate. Make sure you say that you are just offering some suggestions!

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I'm telling ya, just do the whole thing on Hubert Jocham.

5star's picture

I am into typography...

Really? Why?

n.

dberlow's picture

I'd drop the course and take music appreciation, the law for criminals, or mountain sports medicine instead.

No wait, here's something simple, there are fonts from all over the world. Times up!

Claire Bibio's picture

Thanks everyone for your input! I really like your comment PublishingMojo and that video looks interesting hrant, i wish i could understand french. I'm also thinking of doing a small letter drawing exercise to show how things are done, but I don't know an appropriate way to approach this. J. Tillman I think for this particular case your approach is more suitable for people who are interested in typography, for this talk I kind of have to make them to be interested by being interesting. Ryan Maelhorn the aim of my talk is to demonstrate how things are done and not talk about a designers career.

eliason's picture

I would focus on a lowercase /g/. What are the different forms it takes in familiar fonts (one story or two, perky or saggy ear, open or closed loop, even "Danish" or "pelican" forms). A good way to call attention to design decisions that are usually overlooked.

hrant's picture

Another nice idea.

Hmmm, now I'm thinking somebody should make a series of friendly-but-serious short pieces that "break the ice" with laymen about type.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Do a few examples of how changing a font and layout affects mood and readability of titles and text. Make the contrasts big, and then talk about it.

Chris Dean's picture

@Claire: For what school, course, and instructor is this homework assignment for?

oldnick's picture

@Claire Bibio—

Your assessment of Ryan’s superfluity is generally proven.

Since English majors used to study literacy and its implications, you might be better served by addressing that issue. Marshall McLuhan’s observations on print media in Understanding Media might prove informative and salutary…

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Claire,
I wonder, when this is “a topic of [your] interest”, why you are saying
“I have no idea where to start or what to talk about”.
Keep it simple. Why not just talk about your interest?

Claire Bibio's picture

Chris Dean I'm a university student and this assignment is for a public speaking class which is taught in English. Thanks again everyone who makes this nice comments. Andreas Stötzner I see typography a craft and although we live in digital age I'd like to show people that it's an old profession and that it just doesn't happen in an instant like people think it does. Since letters are all around us the average person takes them for granted and being an art student in my short talk I'd like to tell the students how typography happens and how letters are created, initially i was thinking of asking the students to draw a letter each and then we would put them up on the wall, make a sentence and discuss the importance of design and planning in typography. But since it's students from different majors that i will talk to I wanted to present things as simple and clear possible. All I want is to crate awareness for typography, just like there is awareness for industrial and fashion design. I know it is challenging but I will try.

Chris Dean's picture

I’ll give you a tip. Asking the question “what is typography?” is about the same as asking “what is art?” Go ahead. Ask it here. I dare you ;). It will get you nowhere. Slooooowly.

Start by saying “So-and-so calls it this, So-and-so calls it that. I’m not here to define it, but to talk about one small part of it.”

Now pick that part. I know you know you have something small you would like to share. Go for it. My favorite Pokémon is Venasaur. See? That wasn’t so hard? Embrace it.

You might find something of interest in the Literature and Discussion sections of my “website”:

http://readthetype.com/literature/
http://readthetype.com/discussion/

(and don’t forget to share your results please :)

oldnick's picture

Typography essentially created the world’s first mass medium; at the tail end of literacy, we now have the Internet, whose Virtual Reality is more and more supplanting the Real Reality—if there has actually been such a thing since the dawn of Western Civilization…

5star's picture

I see typography a craft and although we live in digital age I'd like to show people that it's an old profession and that it just doesn't happen in an instant like people think it does.

Huh, go figure. I thought typography came in a can...

http://www.graphicdeclaration.com/images/TYPOGRAPHY_canned.jpg

;)

n.

sevag's picture

Dear Claire, in instances like this you should put aside your passion and think what might interest your audience and not what interests you.

Assuming your professor demands that you hand in the writing assignment typed in a specific font, size, etc. — this could be a starting point. Think of your classmates who forget or ignore professor's instructions and as a result get lower grades. To them this might make no sense, but you know that this things matter.

For example you could pick a font i.e. Times New Roman and talk about its properties, history, how and why it has become the standard choice amongst the academics when there are many other fonts on our computers. Explain why is it a better choice than Arial for longer texts, etc. Good luck!

Nick Shinn's picture

I would distinguish between typography as done by graphic designers and type design, and focus on typography.

If you are speaking with visual aids (Powerpoint?), you can demonstrate how a typographer can change the appearance of a page by altering the basic typographic parameters: typeface, size, leading, and paragraph style.

That way, your expertise in speaking and presenting will be demonstrated in the way that you strike a balance between what you say about the images, and the text that you have written for the descriptive captions in the images.

It does seem to me that you should be using images in your talk, as the subject is visual. However, if it’s just talking, you could discuss a non-visual aspect of contemporary typography, such as the change that was brought about by digitization; the “how it’s done” in this case would be the emergence of the independent foundry and how we go about our business: technology, design process, marketing, distribution, the difference between royalties from licensed products (passive income) and commissioned work for fee.

oldnick's picture

@Renaissance Man—

Thanks for sharing: priceless!

5star's picture

^+1

Hilarious!!!

n.

hrant's picture

Once in a while YouTube is worth the trouble! Thanks for making me laugh pretty hard.

The thing is, when you consider it's coming from Hitler, the bottom-line message might in fact be: chill, man - using all those crappy illegitimate fonts is A-OK.

hhp

JamesM's picture

> for a public speaking class

Since some class members may not know or care much about typography, I'd suggest not getting too technical. You might want to look for a way to humanize the subject, such as telling an interesting story about a famous type designer, or a story about how advertisers use font choices to affect our view of their products. As Nick mentioned, keeping it visual might be a good approach. If you use PowerPoint, one tip — don't put your speech on the slides; just put visuals on the slides that illustrate what you're talking about.

Karl Stange's picture

such as telling an interesting story about a famous type designer

Maybe not Eric Gill though, that might be too interesting.

hrant's picture

Cassandre would make a nice story. He hung himself* because a font house turned down his design.

* On the night I was born. :-/

hhp

PublishingMojo's picture

Noel Loomis was a typesetter, not a type designer, but he certainly had an interesting story.

oldnick's picture

Oswald Cooper was an intriguing fellow…

Té Rowan's picture

(looks askance at @Karl) 'Coz @Claire is Daily Mail?

Karl Stange's picture

(looks askance at @Karl) 'Coz @Claire is Daily Mail?

Eric Gill's god forbid, a ten minute surmation of his life and letters would no doubt engage any audience but is perhaps not the most level introduction to typography and type design...

Chris Dean's picture

@Claire Bibio: When asking for help on a bulletin board, be sure to cite it properly, lest your professor bust you for plagiarism. According to APA 6.0 the proper way to do this is:

Dean, C. (2012, October 27). Re: Thread title (Online forum comment). Retrieved from http://url of the thread

In this case, replace my name and date with the time and person who answered your question.

PublishingMojo's picture

Eric Gill's notorious private life often distracts us from his artistic achievements, but he did not consider himself as a type designer first and foremost. In his lifetime he was highly acclaimed as a sculptor, and on his own gravestone he described himself as a stonecutter.

5star's picture

That gravestone seems queer. It was manufactured after the passing of Mrs. Gill and not Mr. Gill(?).

n.

oldnick's picture

Neil—

It would be difficult to carve your own gravestone after you died. Your confusion on the subject may well explain your idyllic entrancement with Capitalism…

5star's picture

Oldnick, at the earliest that 'gravestone' was manufactured 21 years after the passing of Mr. Gill. I'll be the first one to admit to letting some deadlines slip ...but really oldnick 21 years???

Why wait for the passing of Mrs. Gill to give Mr. Gill his due?

Socialist cemetery?

n.

oldnick's picture

Socialist cemetery?

How about “practical”: the gravestone only had to be carved once, and not necessarily in situ, where additions to epitaphs are normally added. Get a clue, wouldja?

JamesM's picture

When 2 people are listed on a gravestone, typically it initially lists the date for the 1st one to pass away, and a blank space is left for the dates for the other one. Then it is revised years later upon the death and burial of the 2nd person.

oldnick's picture

James—

Did I say anything different? I thought not but, evidently, I was mistaken…

JamesM's picture

I was agreeing with your comment that the 2nd date was added later.

5star's picture

When 2 people are listed on a gravestone, typically it initially lists the date for the 1st one to pass away, and a blank space is left for the dates for the other one. Then it is revised years later upon the death and burial of the 2nd person.

Thanks for the explanation, I did not know that.

n.

Renaissance Man's picture

If we've put Eric Gill to rest, how about Carol Twombly?

http://www.www.typophile.com/node/32680

hrant's picture

That was totally the most epic thread ever.

hhp

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