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Typography classifications and history

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Duncan Maclean

on 15 May 2017

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Transcript of Typography classifications and history

Typography Classifications and History
• Sans Serif Typefaces - Sans Serif typefaces do not have finishing strokes at the ends of the letterforms. The name comes from the French word sans, which mean "without." Sans Serif typefaces are also referred to as Gothic. Avante Garde, Helvetica, and Arial are the most common Sans Serif typefaces.
Sans Serif typefaces are often broken into 2 categories: humanist and geometric.
• Character Fonts - Character fonts are extended character sets packaged as fonts. Using Character Map (PC)or Fontbook (Mac OS) locate the glyph you want to use and either note the keystroke displayed in the box in the lower right corner of the window or copy and paste it into the publication where you are working. Wingdings and Dingbats are common Character fonts.
• Decorative Fonts - Decorative fonts are fonts that do not fit into any other group. These typefaces are reserved for novelty, for special effect, or a special approach. Because they are different, they are usually harder to read than standard fonts, so use them sparingly and always as display type - never as text. Beesknees, Curlz, and Snap are examples of decorative fonts. Decorative typefaces are often unicase and have limited weights/styles

Typeface classifications:
The History of Typography - Animated Short by Ben Barrett-Forrest
Born in 1398 in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg is best known for his invention of movable mechanized type, a rudimentary form of press, which played an important role in the development of the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. Movable type was a massive improvement of the handwritten manuscript and allowed for much faster production of printed materials. Movable type was also invented in China at approximately the same time that Gutenberg developed his invention. However, Gutenberg was instrumental in spreading its use across Europe and the World.

Movable type allowed for the beginnings of the democratisation of knowledge. Once the ability to read and write, to convey meaning and store information through a written format was restricted to the aristocracy and church. Gutenberg's invention allowed for the possibility of information and education for everyone.
Nicholas Jensen, a French engraver, was born in 1420 but worked wost of his life in Venice. It is thought that Jensen studied under Gutenberg and through this apprenticeship he learned the technical aspects of moveable type. He was originally instructed to study this topic by the French monarchy. Due to the death of King Charles VII Jensen wound up in Venice and opened his own print shop ultimately producing 150 titles before his death. Jensen is credited with a massive shift in typographic design moving away from script and black letter type towards geometric, highly legible roman typefaces. Jensen's roman typefaces for the first time brought consistency across upper and lower case characters producing a recognisable letterpress face.
Clarity of type continued improved leading to Baroque types of the 17th century (1601 to 1700). Amongst these are faces designed by Claude Garamond and later, William Caslon. Displaying low stroke contrast and a diagonal stress derived from Italian cursive, they were elegant and highly legible, their dominance was only challenged by the work of John Baskerville in the mid-18th century (1750's) . Artistic flair crept back with vertical French grid-based Neoclassical designs with high stroke contrast. These peaked in the Romantic faces of Giambattista Bodoni and Firmin Didot.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century brought in another typographic development not directly caused by technology. Advertising and commerce demanded that type work harder, resulting in heavily scaled novelty and display faces. Grossly inflated Romantic faces became fat-faces and Realist types emerged in the form of vertical, sturdy slab serifs. But most significantly, monoline sans serif or grotesque faces appeared, with Hermann Berthold’s Akzidenz Grotesk of 1896 becoming the first widely adopted sans.
Leading into the 20th century repeatable typefaces became ever more simple in an effort to focus on legibility, or function over form. This dispensing with artistry lead to the progressive designers at the Bauhaus to ally themselves with the machine age in an attempt to define the modern. Rejecting both calligraphy and ornamentation in favour of pure elemental form, they embraced refined sans forms and delivered Geometric Modernist types: grid-based, modular, often unicase alphabets like Herbert Bayer’s 1925 Universum. Design was now being driven by a socialist ideology or philosophy rather than a commercial need.

The History of Typography - Animated Short by Ben Barrett-Forrest

Extending from the ideology of the Bauhas, Paul Renner released the radical Futura in 1927. The first sans designed as a text face, it was the beggining of the Swiss Style, a movement that would remain influential for the next 50 years. This milestone was paralleled by the 1928 release of Gill Sans by Eric Gill. Unlike Futura, this humanist sans serif was based on roman proportions but would also have an immediate impact and lasting popularity.
The photosetting of the 1950s had used light to project and scale typefaces which often resulted in distortion, but Letraset dry-transfer lettering soon arrived to physically return type the the hands of the designer. Quick and cheap, this intermediate technology mirrored Pop Art in its brash, fun display faces. However, as computers increased their presence, type began moving definitively away from these physical restraints towards the flexibility of the digital. Neue Alphabet by Wim Crouwel and the OCR fonts of Adrian Frutiger in the late 1960s were inspired by and custom-designed for screen display.
The design, production and distribution of type changed irrevocably in the early 1980s with the advent of desktop publishing and the Apple Macintosh. Efficient, user-friendly software democratised typography but simultaneously allowed designers to produce ill-conceived and badly drawn faces. An exception was the prolific Neville Brody whose geometric, authoritarian faces would define the decade. Ironically, Brody’s pre-digital types were hand-drawn yet they fully expressed the geometry of bitmaps.
Stanley Morison’s Times New Roman of 1932 being noteworthy as a fusion of Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic elements; it became the most widely read and commercially successful text face. But it was the modern sans serif that was in demand and in order to compete commercially, the Swiss typefoundry Haas commissioned Max Miedinger’s infamous neo-grotesque, Helvetica, in 1957. Neutral, adaptable Helvetica (with its large family) prevailed from the 1960s on and it has not yet lost prominence.
Apple Macintosh Commercial - 1984
Wim Crouwel is a Dutch graphic designer most well-known for his typeface design called ‘New Alphabet’ created in 1967. The typeface was designed in such a way to make it represent the limitations of the cathode ray tube technology used in early typesetting equipment. The typeface is entirely made up of only straight lines, 45 degree and 90-degree angles. This makes it hard to read which was the main criticism. However it was designed with aesthetic and theory in mind and was never intended to be used marking it as post modern experiment in using type for non-communicative purposes.
David Carson was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and spent much of his early life in southern California. Ingrained within the surfing sub-culture Carson started experimenting with graphic design during the mid 1980s. Transworld Skateboarding, Beach Culture, How Magazine and RayGun were among the primary publications on which he worked. However, it was RayGun where he gained perhaps the most recognition and was able to share his design style, characterized by "dirty" type which adheres to none of the standard practices of typography and is often illegible, with the widest audience.
From Paper to Screen - Motion design short by Thibault de Fournas
Further reading
• Serif Typefaces - Serifs are lines or curves projecting from the end of a letterform. Typefaces with these additional strokes are called Serif typefaces. They are also referred to as Oldstyle typefaces. Times Roman, Palatino, Bookman, and New Century Schoolbook are common Serif typefaces.
To the left there are some different sans serif faces. Can you identify which are humanist and which are geometric?
To the left are 3 popular serif faces. They can be categorised as Old Style, Transitional and Modernist.
• Script Typefaces - Script typefaces simulate handwriting, with one letter connected to another visually, if not physically. Script typefaces emulate several different types of hand-lettering, including calligraphic, drafting, and cartoon. Alpine Script, Ambassador and Brush Script are common Script typefaces.
• Black Letter - The Blackletter typeface (also sometimes referred to as Gothic, Fraktur or Old English) was used in the Guthenburg Bible. This style of typeface is recognizable by its dramatic thin and thick strokes, and in some fonts, the elaborate swirls on the serifs. Blackletter typefaces are based on early manuscript lettering. Over time a wide variety of different blackletters appeared, but four major families can be identified: Textura, Rotunda, Schwabacher and Fraktur. Black letter typefaces are often used for drammatic effect. Traditionally black letter faces are associated with authority and religion
Art deco was an art and design movement extending from modernism with the purpose of finding a commercial modernist style without the challenges that were produced by abstract expressionism. It evolved simultaneously in France and America as Jazz Modern and Streamline Style. It was called Art Deco after a 1925 Parisian exhibition featuring “arts decoratifs”. Art deco focused on clean, geometric, usually symmetrical lines featuring high end modern, materials.
Typographically art deco produced some very dramatic geometric faces. The work of A.M. Cassandre (1901-1968) is typical of the classic commercial art deco style.
Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and applied art, especially the decorative arts, that was most popular between 1890 and 1910. A reaction to the academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms, structures and curved lines. Although Art Nouveau was replaced by 20th-century Modernist styles, it is considered an important transition between the eclectic historic revival styles of the 19th century and Modernism.
Art Nouveau in type is characterised by French designer Hector Guimar (1867-1942). He created the font Metropolitaines as part of his Art Nouveau design for the Paris metro.
Craig Ward is a British born Designer and Creative Director, currently based in New York. Occasional artist, sometime author and contributor to several industry journals, he is known primarily for his pioneering typographic works. As an ongoing style, Ward applies visual treatment to the words he is working with based on the message he is trying to communicate.
Moveable type:
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