In this edition of Baseline we are taking a look at the people behind the faces. As a counter-balance to the technical detail of type technology Baseline 8 adopts the theme of the importance of individual designers and craftsmen using their inventiveness and labour to create some new valuables for our typographic strong-room.
The men of lettering are sometimes hidden in the workshop. David Kindersley, whose work is sampled in this magazine, is less hidden than most. Carl (or is it Carlos?) Winkow laboured for two years punch cutting the Reporter typeface, whose story is revived here.
W.A. Dwiggins set style and standard for a generation of American graphic designers. His personality, as much as his skill, shone through at the exhibition of his work reviewed in these pages.
The type designer of today works alongside the computer scientist to build up new digital libraries of alphabets. We ‘type-technologists’ use jargon and shorthand. Recent editions of Baseline have reviewed type ‘created by computer programs’, and have looked at new typeface weights ‘interpolated by software’. The primary responsibility of the computer assisted type designer is to know and respect out typographic heritage, to re-model’ existing typefaces only for valid design and application reasons and to avoid cynical copy.
Type designers working with computer can choose no more fertile area than the development of non-latin forms. Having discussed the current state of Arabic typography in a recent edition it is fascinating to look at the skilful application of technology to the creation of types for India. Worldwide communications link the workshops of Mahendra Patel and Ninad Mate with those of the ‘type-sophisticates’ and their computers in Europe.
But men create greater structures than individual typefaces. William Morris played a part in the creation of a whole movement – ‘Art Nouveau’ described by Jackie Wedgewood later in these pages. Dai Davies, a British lettering artist looking for a way to create more flexibility in headline setting in the days of metal and ‘repro’ created a company, Letraset, which is now a world-wide organization. Aron Burns, a New York typographer, co founded ITC with a desire to create a new generation of American typefaces. As Letraset acquires ITC we can pause and see how the ideas of individuals can profoundly influence our world of type.
So ideas become projects and projects become typefaces, or companies, or even whole movements, like Art Nouveau. I am sure that by examining the efforts of others and showing them today’s designers Baseline plays a part in helping us to strive to maintain high typographic standards, which are of more importance now, in our world of mass communications than they have ever been.