Microscopic works of art

18 Apr

I’m working on a assignment on typographic classification right now. Essentially the brief boils down to ‘a visual exploration of the formal qualities of at least 6 different typefaces.’ If I’m honest, its been a challenge to make that terribly exciting.  All signs seem to point toward what seemed to be fairly obvious, uninteresting approaches. I was trying to come up with an approach that might be interesting to look at as opposed to a text-based font history lesson.  However, if there’s one way to ensure NOT coming up with an interesting idea…its sitting around trying desperately to come with an interesting idea. *sigh*

Anyway, after a number of failed approaches, I’ve come up with something that I’m think (hope!) has some potential. It was inspired by a quote I’d read a while ago by the one of the kings of typography, Robert Bringhurst – PLUS he’s Canadian…that combo pretty well makes him a deity. He said, ‘Letters are microscopic works of art, as well as useful symbols. They mean what they are, as well as what they say.’ Pretty genius and very true. So, I wanted to take the letterforms out of their normal context and try to make them look like slightly more abstract, artist forms; to draw attention to their distinguishing characters without using arrows pointing at anatomical type parts and using x-height lines, etc. Its interesting though, no matter how much you attempt to abstract them, we’re so used to their forms, you still tend to recognise them as letters. I think that might be the challenge.

Here’s some of the early tests…


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