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Re: [PPLetterpress] Re: The King is Dead, Long Live the New King

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  • Per Werme
    Jason, Gerald et al. Some thoughts about The man as a tool, Open Type fonts, book design and the seek after perfection. With ages you tend towards simplicity
    Message 1 of 51 , Nov 30, 2005
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      Jason, Gerald et al.

      Some thoughts about The man as a tool, Open Type fonts, book design
      and the seek after perfection.

      With ages you tend towards simplicity in design, especially when
      you're working with books. The wide range of non-fiction has of
      course its own bounderies to work well. The reading of books will
      suffer when lively or experimental typography is practised, it has to
      be silent. To use, for example, unusual ligatures like ct, st or
      other odd glyphs, will in many cases stop the reader because he/she
      is not quite familiar with them. On the other hand could those
      ligatures gain and "invigorate" the text in job-printing, such as
      menus or letterheads. But there are surely good and needed ligatures
      for book faces. One often forgotten combination is f+j, needed in the
      Scandinavian languages. (How many times havn't I completed the
      ligature with Fontographer.) In general I would say Open Type with a
      palette of various glyphs is not a conclusive issue for better
      typography in the Western languages.

      The issue of hanging punctuation is another thing hard to understand.
      This kind of perfection doesn't further the reader, it appears to me
      as plain aesthetics. One could think it's done for the colleages, or
      maybe because the program has this capability. (Quark don't support
      it as far as I know.) When we look at prints from 1400th century and
      onwards there are a kind of peace and kindness over the pages which
      we cannot achieve today. Why? The hardware tools! The tools are too
      subtle and refined when it comes to handle the types, from casting
      the type with perfect lining up to nowadays digital types based upon
      the even Beziér curve. This clean antiseptic appearance influence the
      reader's interface. Perfection often kills.

      Small irregularities in type design from earlier masters, Jenson,
      Griffo, Le Bè, Van Dijck, Kis, are based upon engraving a piece of
      hard steel. They had to be economic in their movements when
      sculpturing a character. Simplicity in shape and crispness because of
      tool and material. Angles can differ, small deviations in lining is
      life-giving parameters. Many of today's renaissance type faces like
      AGaramond or Minion have in some degree lost their soul. The latter
      face is too well-made, an air of perfume surround the design. "No
      dirt in the corner".

      Designers like to make beautiful things -- for the eye. In best cases
      it's also functional. The other way around when function comes first,
      beauty follows, or, as Eric Gill put it, "the beauty comes by
      itself". This needs years of practice. Tschichold ones said (as I
      recall to mind) "the typographer need ten years to learn the tools,
      ten years of refinements and finally ten years to get rid of
      yourself". The last thing to subordinate oneself is the hardest thing.

      (English is not my mother tongue . . .)

      Regards

      Per Werme
      Book designer



      29 nov 2005 kl. 03.56 skrev Gerald Lange:

      > Hi Ho
      >
      > Thanks again for the mental exercise. I was actually kind of
      > relieved to
      > read of your passion for OT and Indy. But still, you know, have to
      > make
      > the case!!! Keep us informed about the work you are doing with the
      > foundries. If you have links for them that you would like to share
      > please pop them in the appropriate folder (there is only one).
      >
      > I doubt many letterpress folks are into book production anymore but I
      > would think that learning to print "well" and an inclination to study
      > typography slowly go hand in hand. Well, they did for me. And browsing
      > about your website I'd say you are well on your way. Very good work.
      >
      > "I suppose on some level what we're both saying is that the tool in
      > need
      > of sharpening is often the person holding the knife." Now that's a
      > keeper!!!
      >
      > Gerald
      >
      >

      > Jason Dewinetz wrote:
      >
      > >Hi Gerald,
      > >
      > >Not a whole lot to add to your last reply, in that I'm in
      > agreement on most
      > >fronts. You're right to point out that my typographic experience
      > is limited
      > >to the last decade or so, and thus upgrading significant
      > investments (PS1
      > >libraries, for instance) isn't a major issue, as it is for many.
      > >
      > >I also agree entirely that it is not the tools that make the work,
      > but the
      > >person using the tools. I didn't mean to imply at all that I
      > thought new
      > >page layout applications and more sophisticated fonts result
      > necessarily in
      > >better set type. On the contrary, you're right; for many too many
      > options is
      > >a bad thing. The basic principle of "just because you can doesn't
      > mean you
      > >should" seems to fly out the window a lot of the time.
      > >
      > >In a previous thread on this forum I went on and on about the
      > perception
      > >that printing letterpress means quality book production, and my
      > point was
      > >that in my experience many folks are so busy learning how to print
      > well that
      > >they don't have the time or inclination to study typography. The
      > same, of
      > >course, goes on in the digital world. Knowing how to maintain a
      > press or
      > >reading an InDesign manual helps little when it comes time to set
      > type. And
      > >you're right, attention to hyphenation, kerning, hanging
      > punctuation, etc.,
      > >can be done any time, if two things are in place: the tools (fonts
      > with all
      > >necessary glyphs) and the basic principles of typography. It seems
      > to me
      > >that more often it is the principles that are missing.
      > >
      > >At the end of the day your comment that "the bluntest of tools can be
      > >sharpened" is the one that struck me the most. Absolutely. I
      > suppose on some
      > >level what we're both saying is that the tool in need of
      > sharpening is often
      > >the person holding the knife.
      > >
      > >Jason
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >----- Original Message -----
      > >From: Gerald Lange
      > >To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      > >Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 3:08 PM
      > >Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: The King is Dead, Long Live the New King
      > >
      > >
      > >Hi again
      > >
      > >I think it is essentially true that OT was developed for the Asian
      > >market. That it is, and is going to be, the established standard for
      > >years to come, means of course, that foundries must fall in line. And
      > >obviously, most of the established foundries are going to be working
      > >on roman fonts that have nothing to do with the Asian market. The
      > work
      > >you cite is really no different than the kinds of effort some folks
      > >put into PostScript Type 1 fonts (as well as other formats).
      > >
      > >The development and evolution of digital type over the last forty
      > >years abounds with such historical concerns, and I would agree that
      > >this period of time is an "awakening" typographically speaking. The
      > >complexity of making a properly functional OT font has also been
      > cited
      > >as the rationale for the format. There will obviously be foundries
      > >falling out of competition and far fewer start-ups. Since it is
      > >difficult to properly translate older formats into OT form some very
      > >good digital faces are doomed to extinction. This should be a
      > concern,
      > >at the very least, to those who have in the past invested heavily
      > into
      > >PS1 libraries. It is one thing to welcome the future with open arms,
      > >it is another entirely to try and save what we can from the past.
      > This
      > >I find oddly missing in the OT phenomenon. Or perhaps it is not odd
      > >at all.
      > >
      > >Actually I found digital type and the various typographic software
      > >tools to be fine typographically speaking, since around 1990.
      > >Improvements, little by little, have improved the capabilities of the
      > >technology but I would not agree that these improvements have
      > likewise
      > >improved my or anyone else's typography. I was quite capable of
      > >hanging punctuation, kerning pairs, etc without needing to wait for
      > >the technology to improve. You think digital is great, you should
      > have
      > >seen what analog could do. And that was reserved for professionally
      > >trained typographers.
      > >
      > >I'd think a good typographer could work with any tool and make good
      > >work. That was sort of my point. One can do proper kerning and
      > >composition with any of the page-layout programs, past (if they still
      > >work) and present. Or with lead type. It's really a matter of forcing
      > >control. I do use OpenType and InDesign by the way. And I have done a
      > >lot of book production work, both fine press editions and trade
      > >editions. So I will suggest that even the bluntest of tools can be
      > >sharpened. Having typographic niceties does not mean that most folks
      > >will use them, or even know how to use them properly. Building the
      > >capability into the system is great, but its a gift to
      > typographers, a
      > >panache. Just as Adobe's expert sets were.
      > >
      > >For the most part "the details of hyphenation, kerning, hanging
      > >punctuation, etc." is ignored by the majority of folks who are using
      > >newer technology. In regard to costs, remember that ongoing
      > >acquisition of hardware, software, fonts, does add up to a lot of
      > >money. In terms of studio letterpress, one does not need photopolymer
      > >or computers to do good work, and, for the most part, relying on
      > >photopolymer and digital technology has actually revealed the
      > >opposite. Typographic concerns are rarely a significant
      > consideration.
      > >Though I would agree that they should be. You'd have a hard time
      > >proving, by the way, that attention to hyphenation, kerning, hanging
      > >punctuation were typographic concerns that date back 500 years. As
      > >much evidence that can be found in the early years of printing, is as
      > >much violated by evidence that suggests the opposite. It really isn't
      > >until the 20th century that such concerns become fully developed and
      > >stabilized
      > >
      > >The cost of type, whether metal or digital, in a significant fine
      > >press book edition is of far lessor impact financially than other
      > >investment concerns, paper, binding, etc. So your example doesn't
      > >quite work well. In terms of trade work where faster and more
      > >efficient software will accomplish the job quickly with minimal
      > >adjustments, I would, however, agree.
      > >
      > >You mentioned "in the last five years." So I went to your website
      > >which mentions the Press was established in 1999. If you have been in
      > >the field since that time I can well understand how you would see OT,
      > >OSX, and InDesign as transitional points in the technology. As I
      > >recall, all of these were only a whisper and a prayer at the turn of
      > >the century. But there have been many significant transitional points
      > >all along the way. Improvements in tools is not the only entry way to
      > >typographic knowledge and skill. Some folks have been led there
      > simply
      > >by that first crank on a Vandercook.
      > >
      > >Gerald
      > >http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
      > >
      > >
      > >>Hi Gerald,
      > >>
      > >>You make some good points, but I'm not sold on your comment about
      > >>significant revisions not being seen from smaller foundries when
      > >>
      > >>
      > >reissuing
      > >
      > >
      > >>their fonts in OpenType. I've recently been corresponding with Peter
      > >>
      > >>
      > >Balik
      > >
      > >
      > >>of Typotheque in the Netherlands as he revised, redrew and basically
      > >>
      > >>
      > >knocked
      > >
      > >
      > >>Fedra Serif Pro out of the stadium. The font isn't released yet, but
      > >>
      > >>
      > >I've
      > >
      > >
      > >>been beta testing it for him and the glyph palette and OpenType
      > >>
      > >>
      > >features
      > >
      > >
      > >>built in make me excited to use the font for book work. Then there
      > >>
      > >>
      > >are new
      > >
      > >
      > >>fonts such as Christian Robertson's Dear Sarah, which is not only a
      > >>
      > >>
      > >great
      > >
      > >
      > >>addition to the hand-writing font library, but was more or less
      > >>
      > >>
      > >inspired by
      > >
      > >
      > >>OpenType's capabilities to lend a "randomized" feel to setting in
      > >>
      > >>
      > >this font.
      > >
      > >
      > >>Linotype's revision of Zapfino into the OpenType Zapfino Extra is
      > >>
      > >>
      > >another
      > >
      > >
      > >>example.
      > >>
      > >>As for the "purpose" of OpenType, I'll quote you here:
      > >>
      > >>"The purpose of OT is not its typographical capabilities (Adobe,
      > self
      > >>admittedly, could have done a lot more in this regard with the
      > format
      > >>than they were allowed to, Microsoft supposedly nicked this) but
      > rather
      > >>its appeal to the Asian market as a cross platform system capable of
      > >>incorporating tens of thousands of glyphs. Asia is clearly seen
      > as the
      > >>only new market for digital type and the older formats are not
      > conducive
      > >>to sales."
      > >>
      > >>While I tend to the cynical myself, this seems a bit extreme. Do you
      > >>
      > >>
      > >really
      > >
      > >
      > >>mean to say that people like Peter at Typotheque are killing
      > >>
      > >>
      > >themselves with
      > >
      > >
      > >>these OpenType revisions simply to tap into the Asian market?
      > Seeing as
      > >>Peter's recent fonts don't include Asian glyphs I suppose not. I
      > >>
      > >>
      > >suppose
      > >
      > >
      > >>you're commenting more specifically on the development of the format
      > >>
      > >>
      > >itself
      > >
      > >
      > >>(.otf). But this seems to overlook the typographic capabilities
      > of the
      > >>format in order to focus on marketing and politics. I'm speaking
      > as an
      > >>end-user, as a book designer, and OpenType speaks directly to me as
      > >>
      > >>
      > >such.
      > >
      > >
      > >>It's not simply a matter of it being easier for me to set type well
      > >>(although that is certainly true), it's actually a better tool, a
      > >>
      > >>
      > >sharper
      > >
      > >
      > >>knife.
      > >>
      > >>Which brings us to the fact that "OT in itself will not create
      > >>
      > >>
      > >'advanced
      > >
      > >
      > >>typography'." Well, of course not, that's the typographer's job. And
      > >>
      > >>
      > >I'm not
      > >
      > >
      > >>speaking for the last 550 years of printing, just the last, let's
      > >>
      > >>
      > >say, 50,
      > >
      > >
      > >>where the vast majority of typesetting and typography gave way to
      > >>
      > >>
      > >DTP and a
      > >
      > >
      > >>complete disregard for setting correct type because so much of
      > correct
      > >>setting was simply not possible with the tools at hand.
      > >>
      > >>What I'm saying is that with applications like InDesign and well-
      > made
      > >>OpenType fonts perhaps more designers & printers will begin to work
      > >>
      > >>
      > >with
      > >
      > >
      > >>(for example) proper fractions & contextually correct numbers, and
      > >>
      > >>
      > >perhaps
      > >
      > >
      > >>even return attention to the details of hyphenation, kerning,
      > hanging
      > >>punctuation, etc. that were important and respected 500 years ago.
      > >>
      > >>You mention that "[you] thought [you were] capable of fairly
      > >>
      > >>
      > >sophisticated
      > >
      > >
      > >>typography" with your Mac SE30. That would be "thought" in the past
      > >>
      > >>
      > >tense?
      > >
      > >
      > >>As in, you are now capable of more sophisticated typography? In the
      > >>
      > >>
      > >last 5
      > >
      > >
      > >>years I know that my typographic knowledge and skill has improved
      > >>
      > >>
      > >greatly
      > >
      > >
      > >>due to improvements in the tools I work with. And OpenType has
      > >>
      > >>
      > >pushed me to
      > >
      > >
      > >>do more research, read Bringhurst a few more times, go back to D.B.
      > >>
      > >>
      > >Updike
      > >
      > >
      > >>again, and learn as much as I can about the glyphs and features that
      > >>
      > >>
      > >are
      > >
      > >
      > >>being introduced with revised OpenType fonts.
      > >>
      > >>Is OpenType the final answer to perfect typography? Of course not.
      > >>
      > >>
      > >It is, as
      > >
      > >
      > >>you say, simply one format in the ongoing evolution of computer
      > >>
      > >>
      > >technology.
      > >
      > >
      > >>There will be another and another format to follow. Will they
      > improve
      > >>typography even more? Quite possibly. By expanding the digital
      > >>
      > >>
      > >typographer's
      > >
      > >
      > >>toolbox and providing access to a wide range of glyphs and features,
      > >>typographers today are now able to set the type they have been
      > >>
      > >>
      > >trained to
      > >
      > >
      > >>set, rather than the compromise they have been forced to set due to
      > >>
      > >>
      > >50 years
      > >
      > >
      > >>of blunt and immature digital tools.
      > >>
      > >>Now, combine these digital improvements with photopolymer and
      > >>
      > >>
      > >letterpress
      > >
      > >
      > >>printing and it seems to me better typography is indeed now
      > >>
      > >>
      > >possible. Take
      > >
      > >
      > >>Peter Koch's production of The Fragments of Parmenides. Seems to me
      > >>
      > >>
      > >that's
      > >
      > >
      > >>about the pinnacle of contemporary book design, and it is so for
      > mixing
      > >>technologies, from custom cut, punched & cast metal type, to
      > >>
      > >>
      > >photopolymer
      > >
      > >
      > >>plates produced from digital files created in InDesign with OpenType
      > >>
      > >>
      > >fonts.
      > >
      > >
      > >>Perhaps an unreasonable example, as we're dealing with masters in
      > >>
      > >>
      > >the field
      > >
      > >
      > >>with the best possible conditions and a lot of money, but my point
      > >>
      > >>
      > >is simply
      > >
      > >
      > >>that what those folks produced is possible on a much more limited
      > >>
      > >>
      > >budget
      > >
      > >
      > >>because of the tools now available.
      > >>
      > >>
      > >>Jason
      > >>
      > >>
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >SPONSORED LINKS Book cover design Design book Graphic design book
      > >Book printing Printing book
      > >
      > >
      > >
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      > >
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    • Gerald Lange
      Per I cut off the last of my post to you by mistake. I think the date of Schöffer s entry into the project is fairly accurate primarily because somewhere was
      Message 51 of 51 , Apr 1, 2006
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        Per

        I cut off the last of my post to you by mistake. I think the date of
        Schöffer's entry into the project is fairly accurate primarily because
        somewhere was a reference to his being in Mainz prior to the fall of
        Constantinople (1493), which was of considerable concern to the
        European community.

        Gerald
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