Note This semester I'm taking "Making Type Talk" with the legendary Ed Benguiat as my instructor. I'll post some of my notes here in this blog as the weeks go along. Unfortunately, there isn't enough space for all the notes and anecdotes for the semester-long, three-hour class. Enjoy!
The class is excellent. It really is a lot of fun if you're the kind of person who loves type. And the stories he tells are worth the price of the class alone. He told us a story about how he used to be in a jazz troupe. He used to play on 52nd street in Birdland. He also traveled & performed with his group. Somehow (and I don't remember the exact route of the story) he ended up on a chain gang b/c something about him being white performing with black musicians in some nightclub in the south! I wish I remembered the story exactly. I took extensive notes all night, but some of the stories are so intriguing that I just stop to listen.
Well, anyway, to make a long story longer... My wife asked how class was. I told her about how one of our assignments is to properly space the following words in Helvetica Roman, roughly 144 pt type (he says three fingers high), all caps, one word above each other:
It had to do with the in-class lecture. He said it should take us about an hour to two hours to finish. My wife asked, why should it take so long for something so simple. And as the week wore on, more people asked the same thing and why we should care as long as it's readable. I struggled to explain the importance of such seemingly minute details.
Well, it turns out the answer can be told in Ed's own metaphor. Keying into his love for music, he said, "Music is arranging sounds in the proper order to make it pleasing to the ear." I suppose anybody can read a sheet of music and play it, but it takes a trained and/or gifted musician to make the music come to life. Likewise, we design with type and words so they appear pleasing to the eye. And it takes the same type of craftmanship to make type come to life.Digg it | del.icio.us | Add to Technorati Faves