If you think that typography is all about technique and skills, you miss out on its true potential.
Meet Robert Bringhurst. He was not only a typographer, but also a poet and linguist. His book The Elements of Typographic Style (1992) is considered one of the most influential reference books on typography and book design. Please buy it, read it and keep it.
Writer Roy Johnson noted that Bringhurst ‘can conjure poetry out of the smallest detail, and he offers a scholarly yet succinct etymology of almost every mark that can be made—from the humble hyphen to the nuances of serifs on Trajan Roman or a Carolingian Majuscule.’
Bringhurst also wrote an essay, The solid form of language, that looks at the natural history of human writing systems and their relationships to languages. Although the content was quite inimitable to me, the title wasn’t. It was an epiphany.
Till that day, I had a hard time explaining to people what it is exactly about typography that I find so intriguing. I could stare at one single curve for hours. The tension between white and black? The balance? The placement on the canvas? No. I always felt there was much more to it. And now I realised what it was. Language.
In a time where people state that graphic design isn’t a profession anymore, it seems self-evident that the first one to leave stage is typography. However, typography is the part that discerns graphic design from any other discipline.
My views on the future of design aside; language will never disappear. Letters make words. Words make sentences. Sentences make paragraphs. Paragraphs make stories, stories make the world.
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