Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The "F" Word

I’m going to veer a bit off theme here. If you are ONLY interested in interior design and DIY projects: walk away. You’ve been warned.
So on top of being decidedly handy and an all-around great gal to have at a party, I am a classically trained designer. “What does that mean?,” you say.
It means that not only did I pay a bunch of money to show an instructor (and occasionally, a professor) that I know how to use Photoshop, but that I also studied the theory behind the stuff I made. I took classes in drawing, in color theory, in visual communication and in typography (and in other stuff too). It’s this last that vexes me.
I did well in Typography. At least, I got a good grade in Typography. And there is no doubt in my mind that my Typography professor was a design genius. He hung around (and belongs with) living design legends in San Francisco. It’s just… teaching is maybe not his forte. I don’t think I learned much. And I may or may not have caused him to have a nervous breakdown that resulted in his taking a semester off. After his first semester.
Now, you should know that I am a pain in the ass for a student. I ask questions - lots of questions. And if you don’t have the answers, I expect you to help me find them. So if I think I’ve learned “a lot” in a class… well, most of the class’ heads have exploded.
So, knowing as I do that my knowledge of Typography is lacking, I’ve been working on it. I’ve been reading. And reading. And playing with designs. But you know what blows my damn mind?
“Fonts” and “typefaces”. Apparently, a “font” is a delivery device while a “typestyle” refers to the design it delivers. Did your head just explode? The best example of it is that a “Typestyle” is a song while a “Font” is an mp3.  Which does nothing for me.
So here’s my conclusion: I’m going to stop using the word “font”. As far as I can tell, it serves no real purpose. It USED to refer to a particular collection of the dies cast for a typeface. As there are no more dies (commercially), and all the digital renditions are more or less the same, we don’t need “font” anymore. I’m done!
The difference between “font” and “typeface” is henceforth as follows:
“Typeface” refers to a pretty set of letters like Mrs Eaves, Helvetica, or Times.
“Font” is its bastard cousin who we don’t invite to reunions or birthdays anymore because he peed on grandma in 1982. And by "peed on grandma" of course I mean "hasn't done a damn useful thing since".
You’re welcome.

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