Everyone that I know is aware of my obsession with Typography. So much so that the first present my girlfriend got me was a poster of the periodic table of type. To those who don’t know me, welcome to my weird old world and let me explain exactly why I love typography and why a good set of letters gives me the sweats. By the end of this post, I might have persuaded you too.
Any good blog post about typography has to start with a mention of this. It was printed by Johannes Gutenberg, and become popularly known as the Gutenberg bible. This isn’t just any document, it was so important to the world because it marked the start of mass printing. Which we now rely on for newspapers, books, magazines, posters, and anything that is written and has had an influence on everything involving words. Even the computer.
This is where my love of typefaces begins, exactly where type started.
It seems so easy for us now to put something onto a piece of paper. With the invention of computing, all of the typefaces are on the screen and you simply press the print button but when it first began it wasn’t as easy as that.
Originally everything was handwritten, monks and nuns would sit and copy manuscripts, or even passages of the bible. Until Gutenberg it was incredibly difficult to get your hands on something to read and usually only the privileged few would get their hands on something.
Printing presses rose after the invention of the printing press, which were cast iron or sometimes wooden blocks, of letters and punctuation all carefully placed in blocks to be pressed.
Each letter was hand-crafted by people who spent hours dedicating themselves to the literally dotting the i’s and the crossing the t’s. People like Edward Johnston, the typography he created is now one of the most famous in the world and one we see every single day. Commissioned by Transport for London, the Johnston typeface is now the official typeface of the London Underground.
There is never a typeface that looks like another. Even if it looks like it is the same, it isn’t. There are always key tells to any typeface, each designer has shaped things slightly differently. If you are ever wondering how to tell which font is which then just look at the a, e, y, i, g and q. It’s crazy that we take type for granted when each letter has its own hidden gems, even if they are the same font. I mean look at a before and after of Roboto, a famed Google font, which was recently updated:
Look at this blog, the type embodies my personality. But if you go to another website, say copytyper.co.uk, the type she uses completely changes and that goes for any website, anywhere on the internet. Typography is like the music of the written world.
I’ve always had this love affair with type, enjoying looking at printed things including logos or books, magazines, banners, anything! It also upsets me at how little people understand about typography, it says a lot about a person or a brand what type of type they use and we should all be more critical of it.