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Letterpress Idea Sketching + Typography Readings






Even after exploring the typefaces available for the letterpress, this idea was (evidently) difficult for me to get onto paper. I think after I have physically worked with the letterpress, I will have a better idea of what to sketch. No matter how many times I drew this it just didn't make sense to me. I can visualize what I want to do and am confident that once I begin working physically with this project that my ideas will be manifested. For now I tried to play with hierarchy to emphasize the meaning of the quote. For one of my final designs, I want to highlight the words "Fight" and "Ugliness". I think it would be interesting to use a typeface like Dresden for "Ugliness" to physically make the word beautiful in contrast to the meaning. After conversing with my partner Rachel, I think that we both have a great foundation of ideas to build upon and explore.


The quote chosen is by Massimo Vignelli, a highly acclaimed graphic designer with a ridiculously impressive track record of accomplishments, (including a 1972 NYC subway map that was highly controversial for it's lack of geographical context and SO ahead of it's time). The quote was chosen because it is relevant and has a lot of potential for hierarchy exploration. I also really like the word "ugliness" juxtaposed with design. This quote will be a lot of fun to work with. 













After completing the readings, I realized how relevant the text was to our current and immediate future projects. It really does help to have it explained in a simplified way with fun examples here and there. This book is really not a bad read for a text book. I wrote out all of the definitions of the words to help remember them for the test, but would just like to include a few thoughts from the readings. 

The first section was about production. First known typography was produced by inscription with hand-made letters painted, inked, or carved on to papyrus or stone.
 I have an extremely old bible that looks just like the example in the book. 
I'm thinking of bringing it in to investigate and share with the class. 

Typography comes from the greek meaning of "a blow" (typos) "writing" (graphe). 
Producing type has always been a physical act. This brought to mind what Kelley was saying about how when type was first produced allowing multiple copies of one print, it was called the devil's work and people were prosecuted for it. Pretty interesting.

There have been 4 typesetting revolutions.  

1.)  Hand typesetting:  Metal/Wood

Gutenberg bible, first example of movable type with hand-cast metal

Before type setting, letters were inked individually by hand. I thought of this the other day when the letterpress wasn't working.

2.)  Machine Typesetting:  Hot Type

This occurred during the Industrial Revolution, when typography was introduced to the machine and the world of speed and mass production. The Pantographic Punch Writer (1884), Marganthaler Linotype, Lanston Monotype Casting Machines (1884-86) were all invented.

3.)  Phototypesetting:  Cold Type

Began in 1960's. New Electronic Age dominated Graphic industry. Inventions were :  (Diotype, Compugraphic, Photo Typositor, Varityper). This is when manipulation of the media began to blossom. 


4.)  Digital Typesetting:  Room Temperature Type

DTP Postscript programming language, publishing software, laser printing all came to be during this time period. The ability to edit and manipulate images is fully realized.
 This movement will probably carry us into the next 500 years or so (as long as we can maintain electricity). 


The next section is about craft and how important it is to have successful final products. Craft is something I struggle with, so this section was helpful to read. I am REALLY working hard to improve this. I haven't pinpointed quite what my deal is, but my work through the past 15 years has been consistently messy. Graphic design and this delicate typography are a real challenge for me as far as craft and patience. 

Typography has a few sayings. "God is in the detail" is my favorite. Basically if your context is good but your craft sucks, you have nothing. Your product is only as good as your craft turns out to be. There is an element to craft that requires a personal know how, and I believe a drive to achieve more. 

"...knowledge that empowers the maker to take charge of the technology..."

This next section is about Materiality and how the context of a word can also be represented in the texture of the surface area. A good example is the class example from last year that used the word "mend" covered in moss and flowers. 


Finally we discuss hierarchy and how it can manipulate the context of the saying or stretch of words. I am seeing hierarchy everywhere now that we have gone over it in class. It's something I have always overlooked but really is everywhere. It comes into play with every project in every class. It is important while driving and reading signs, ordering coffee, reading a book, reading a map, making birthday invitations, etc. 

I am really excited to see how all of these building blocks improve my work little by little.