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Typographers and Designers CHAPTER ONE


House Industries is an internationally known prolific type found-

ry and design studio based in Yorklyn, Delaware. The company was created on March 1st, 1993 when Andy Cruz and Rich Boat quit their jobs and set up Brand Design Co., Inc. in the space rom

of Rich’s apartment in Wilmington, Delaware. Despite its garage startup, the company has manifested into making a consider-

able impact on the world of design as its fonts are widely spread throughout billboards, greeting cards, consumer product logos,

and mainstream media—a few which include VH1’s Best Week Ever, Mission Impossible, Nickelodeon’s TV Land, Anne Taylor garment bags, Lucky Charms, and etc.

Behind the apparent success of House Industries is a team of impassioned House artists who have mastered a large cross-section

of design disciplines that acts as an infrastructure for the mesh of cultural, musical and graphic elements within in the mastered typography. From early forays into distressed digital alphabets to sophisticated type and lettering systems, House Industries’ work

transcends graphic conventions and reaches out to a broad audience.

Within the realm of House Industries’ broad clientele is a wide variety of an unconscious House aesthetic of the studio’s ‘blue-collared’ designers. As House designers draw from an exposure of

areas in the American sub-cultural phenomena of unsophisticated yet incredibly formative graphic design, despite the big names of

their clients, House designers ultimately create their own projects of design and illustration. Each House Industries project attempts to administer a component of an art history lesson of sorts by using their font collections to provide an opportunity to draw atten-

tion to the impactful and under-appreciated art genres that were a huge influence to the designer’s during their impressionable years.

The consistent element of art history embedded into the House

aesthetics has inevitably created a style that audiences identify House Industries with.

In accordance, because of the twentieth century metal type inspiration and the diverse references to popular cultural imagery, invariably, “retro” is always brought up when discussing House’s

work. Regardless of the indifferent categorization of House aes-

thetics being “retro,” as the term is thoughtlessly used to describe anything that from the past few decades, House designers focus solely in the craft of everything they do. House Industries finds

creating artwork by traditional means to be more direct and effi-

cient so ultimately, the hands-on approach preserves the characteristic production techniques while drawing from personal inter-

ests, which gives a unique flavor of making the House Aesthetic one of a kind.


Jessica Hische is a Pennsylvania-born, award-winning letterer, il-

lustrator, and graphic designer. Known for her ‘Daily Drop Cap’ project, ‘Should I Work for Free’ flowchart, and beautiful type design and lettering skills, Hische is currently based in San Fran-

cisco and works alongside friend and designer Erik Marinovich. While she’s not in her studio space creating and working on de-

signs, she can be found traveling the world attending and speaking at conferences, finding ways to help others do what they love.

Having worked for wonderful clients such as Wes Anderson, American Express, and Penguin Books, Hische continues to work

independently from her studio, designing for advertising, books,

weddings, branding, and companies, while still finding time to work on fun side projects for herself. One of her biggest proj-

ects included designing book covers for a 26-book classics series

with Penguin Books; each with an elegantly-designed letter that pertained to a classic author, and another working with Wes An-

derson to create film titles for Moonrise Kingdom. Hische is also greatly acclaimed, having been listed in Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30

in art and design twice, nominated as GDUSA’s person to watch in 2011, and featured in many major design and illustration pub-

lications. She is greatly admired and respected by those in her industry and lettering-aficionados.

Her hand-lettering skills have been carefully practiced and refined

for years, mainly using the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator to develop a general skeleton and adding decorations and ornamentations lat-

er on. While Hische’s work for her clients is incredibly expansive

and ample, her style is a common element in all of her lettering and illustrations; her work can be described as both whimsical and sophisticated, as she finds inspiration everywhere she goes and through all the wonderful people she meets around the world.


The Ohio-born Michael Bierut is a highly awarded and famous graphic designer that is attributed with the creation of designs

ranging from the environmental graphics for the New York Times

building to the development of a new brand strategy for the packaging of Saks Fifth Avenue. However, his work does not only result from his ability to design but also his identity as a designer.

He describes the difference between those who design and those

who are designers. The designer is also a participant in the de-

sign conversation and, as a designer; Bierut is a leader in creating a design community. He has served as the national president of

the American Institute of Graphic Arts, acted as a senior critic at Yale School of Art, and is a founding contributor for the Design

Observer. His works and didactic contributions have affected the language of typography and the field of design overall. With his

book, Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design, Bierut hopes to cre-

ate a community for design conversation, which, he comments, was fairly unavailable to a majority of designs despite the universality of design in the world. He complains that, in the 1970s,

there was only really one, inaccessible, conference for designers to attend and that paid subscriptions to publications tended to be

costly – creating a very isolated world of design. He grants in

sight to the importance, especially due to the ubiquitous nature of design, of the graphic and of the associated text. Mentions of

his mistakes and experiences during his design career inform him

and allow him to offer readers advice on spurring conversations about design and challenging the established design normative. In Bierut’s essay published in the Design Observer, he mentions that design is about making connections between objects. Despite

appearing to be an aggregation for essays on design, he also comments on other topics such as politics or business. He mentions, “Design is not everything. But design is about everything.” Bierut praises design for always being about “something else.” These connections allow designs to become a universal entity that has driven Bierut’s inspirations. As a result of his contemporary advice on breaking the design standard, Bierut has become a major, and powerful, contributor to the entire design community.


Herman Zapf is a German type designer who was born in 1918 in

Nuremberg during the German revolution and is still alive today at age 96! He is married to a fellow typeface designer, Gudrun Zapf von Hesse. Zapf grew up with an interest in technical sub-

jects; as a kid he experimented with electricity and even built an

alarm set for his house. At a young age, Zapf was already getting

involved with type, inventing cipher-text alphabets to exchange secret messages with his brother.

He left school in 1933 with the ambition to pursue a career in electrical engineering. However, Zapf was not able to attend the

Ohm Technical Institute in Nuremberg due to the new political regime in Germany at the time, so he took up an apprenticeship position in lithography where he worked for four years. During

this time, Zapf attended an exhibition in Nuremberg in honor of the late typographer Rudolf Koch. This exhibition gave him his

first interest in lettering and he began to teach himself calligra-

phy. In 1938, he designed his first printed typeface, a fraktur type called Gilgengart.

One year later, Zapf was conscripted into World War II and sent to help reinforce the defensive line against France. Not used to

the hard labor, he developed heart trouble in a few weeks and

was given a desk job, writing camp records and sports certificates. Due to his heart trouble, Zapf was dismissed early from his unit and shortly thereafter began training as a cartographer. After his

training, he traveled to Bordeaux and became a staff member in

the cartography unit where he drew maps of Spain. Zapf enjoyed

working in the cartography unit. His eyesight was so excellent that he could write letters 1 millimeter in size without using a

magnifying glass – this skill probably prevented him from being commissioned back into the army.

After the war had ended, Zapf was held by the French as a prisoner of war. He was treated with respect because of his artwork and,

due to his poor health, was sent home only four weeks after the

end of the war. Post-war, Zapf taught calligraphy in Nuremberg before taking up a position as artistic head of a print shop.

Later in his career, he spent time developing two famous typefaces, Palatino and Optima. He then worked for a while in developing computer typography programs before taking up professorship at the Rochester Institute of Technology from 1977 to 1987. Today he is known as the artist of several famous typefaces such as Palatino, Optima, Aldus, Venture, and of course, Zapfino – his most recent typeface which was released in 1998.

Historical Letters



Bruce Rogers was an American typographer and type designer that primarily focused on book designers. Some claim that he was

among the greatest book designers of the twentieth century. He

started his career as a political cartoonist after graduating from Purdue in 1890. Later on, he worked as an artist for the Indianap-

olis news which sparked his passion for book design. After falling in love with Kelmscott Press edition books, Rogers moved to Bos-

ton, the center of publishing at the time, and began his passion by producing fine books.

Rogers created his first typeface in 1901 when he worked for the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He started design-

ing advertisements, and created ornate designs, printed on handmade damped paper. He created the font “Montaigne” which was

a Venetian style type face, which was used in the book The Essays of Montaigne. Rogers had a very clear style, and when the mo-

derdism trend began to spread across the art world, he continued to focus on his “classical” designs and avoided modern or sans serif fonts.

In 1912, Rogers then moved to New York City where he began his career as an independent designer and house designer for the Metorpolitan Museum of Art. Rogers was asked to design a limited edition of Mauric de Geurin’s The Centaur, and he created his

most popular font “Centaur” at this time. His new typeface was

recognized among the community and admired for its maturity

and classic design. From that point forward, Rogers specifically used Centaur for the rest of his career.

Rogers became infatuated with book design. Whether he was

overseeing other designs or taking on his own special projects, he was always influencing the publishing world with his designs. One of his passion projects included a renovation of the Odyssey.

Rogers reprinted the book in Centaur type on gray handmade paper and bound it with black Niger leather. He became obsessed

with turning iconic books into not only literary works of art, but design works of art as well. Soon after, he spend six years produc-

ing the Oxford Lectern Bible. However, this led to Rogers pairing

up with Frederic Warde to develop an italic form of his Centaur font.

Along with his typography and type design, Rogers spent a focus

on his career designing bookplate designs that showcased his type

designs. His designs usually included small images with ornate

borders and his own types. Today, his bookplates and books designed throughout his career auction at a very high value. Overall, Roger’s impacted the book design world while finding a current way to integrate serif and classic designs into the everyday world.


In the discussion of most influential people in history, we throw

out names like Aristotle, Jesus, Louis Pasteur, Leonardo di Vinci, Alexander the Great, and Walt Disney, but there is one man oft

forgotten: Max Miedinger. Yes, I just compared a typographer to Jesus, and I’m not ashamed.

Max Miedinger was born in the most neutral place on Earth, Zu-

rich, Switzerland, but he was far from anything neutral. In fact,

Max was a go-getter from the beginning. It was widely rumored

that when he was born from his mother’s womb, he was already

rearranging his umbilical cord into various shapes and letters. Having discovered his precociousness at the moment of birth, Max’s parents decided to allow him freedom to become his own

man, and become his own man he did. At the age of 16, when ple-

beians like you and I were still sucking our thumbs and just barely getting by basic calculus, Max was already beginning his apprenticeship as a typesetter. For the next four years, Max worked by

day at the worth of an unpaid intern and attended class by night at Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich. This man had both genius and

hard work, it’s no wonder he had to fend of girls left and right, day and night.

By age 26, Max evolved into a full-fledged typographer for Glo-

bus department store’s advertising studio. For the next 10 years, he perfected his art. During this rather uneventful period the Swiss

typically call “the grind” or in German, zerkleinern, Max was only

able to travel the globe once, spreading the good word of typogra-

phism throughout the four corners of the world. It should be noted that he did successfully perform a cardiac bypass surgery in the

jungles of Africa and recreate the most famous stolen Rembrandt

painting, Jacob de Gheyn III in France. It should also be noted that those latter accomplishments are based purely on rumor.

In 1956-57, he became a freelance graphic artist, and with Eduard Hoffmann, they gifted the world the most important creation of the 20th century in the form of the Haas-Grotesk typeface. Over

the next two years, roman and bold version were created, and in

1960, the typeface was renamed from Neue Haas Grotesk to HelveticaTM. If you don’t know what Helvetica is or looks like, fin-

ish this sentence and then maybe consider exploring that place the rest of us call “outside”. Read some signs, look at some ad-

vertisements, glance over a book cover and you’ll have probably already experienced HelveticaTM. It is only the most widely used

typeface of the 20th century, and many sans-serifs that came after can thank HelveticaTM for laying the way. Helvetica is the Jesus

Christ, the Neo, the Dark Knight of typography, it wasn’t the typeface we deserved, but the typeface we needed. It came down from the snowy mountains of the Swiss Alps to save us from our sins of using so many damn serif fonts.

Of course, haters gon’ hate. Erik Spiekermann said: “Neue Haas Grotesk was a redesign of (surprise!) Haas Grotesk,

which in turn was partly based on Scheltersche Grotesk from Schelter&Giesecke in those days, type was also quickly assimilated, copied, emulated, ripped-off; the success of Akzidenz Grotesk

had alerted Haas to the fact that they were missing sales because all the Swiss designers were specifying AG from Germany.�

This is coming from the guy who thought Michael Jordan was

overrated and the Beatles would never amount to much. The fact of the matter is, HelveticaTM has proliferated beyond all expecta-

tions and continues to be the standard in typeface for advertisers

and designers throughout the world. Whoever marketed Helvetica is a genius and should seriously consider hiring me to wherever firm he works at.


Paul Renner was a world famous German type designer. Renner can be seen as a bridge between the traditional 19th century and

the modern 20th century design. He attempted to fuse the gothic

and the roman typefaces. While he was never directly affiliated with the Bauhaus movement, he became an advocate of its aims and principles and became a leading proponent of the “New Typography”. Renner sought to influence culture by designing, writ-

ing and teaching and he spent most of his life in applied art, trying

to bring high cultural standards to material objects for use – typefaces and books. Although Renner was not associated with the Bauhaus, he shared many of its idioms and believed that a modern

typeface should express modern models, rather than be a revival of a previous design. Renner’s design rejected the approach of

previous sans-serif designs, which were based on the model of traditional serif typefaces and condensed lettering, in favor of simple geometric forms: near-perfect circles, triangles and squares. It is

based on strokes of near-even weight, which are low in contrast. In relation to typography, many people know Renner as the cre-

ator of Futura, one of the most successful and most-used typefaces

of the 20th century. In some respects, Futura can be seen to reflect his views on the appropriate style for letterforms designed in Ger-

many – an alternative solution to the choice of gothic or roman. When created in 1927, Futura was based on geometric shapes that became representative of visual elements of the Bauhaus design

style of 1919–33. In designing Futura, Renner avoided the decorative, eliminating nonessential elements, but used his knowledge of how people perceive lines and shapes to make subtle departures from pure geometric designs that allow the letterforms to seem

balanced. His creation of the sans serif typeface Futura marked a revolutionary change in typography. Futura is still used today

because it is so bold and distinctive to typographers and graphic designers. Paul Renner’s work is a good example of how form follows function. Every mark Renner made, he had a reason for

making it, not making any arbitrary marks or decisions just because of the style during the 19th and 20th century. Renner, as one of the most influential type designers of the 20th century has successfully created a bridge from traditional typography to modern.


“Design is thinking made visual.” Saul Bass was an incredibly versatile American designer who

forged a career in designing everything from corporate identity logos to movie title treatments and filmmaking. Throughout his

40+ years in the industry Bass worked with leading corporations such as, United Way, Continental Airlines, AT&T, Warner Broth-

ers, and the Girl Scout Organization. Bass’ logos are dynamic yet streamlined, and creative yet informative. Bass was one of

the most prominent designers of the 60’s and 70’s. The logos and brand identity guidelines of which most of these major corpora-

tions still use today, decades after their creation. Additionally, a study in 2011 proved that the average lifespan of a Saul Bass cor-

porate logo was 34 years, an unusual longevity. Additionally, this

analysis cited the most common end to a logo was the merge or demise of the company, not a corporate re-branding. Discussing his

logo designs, Saul Bass once stated, “If I do my job well, the identity program will also clean up the image of the company, position

it as being contemporary and keep it from ever looking dated.” Although Bass’ work in logo design is impressive, his innovations in title credits for movies left an impression on the film industry

forever. Prior to Bass’ title treatments movie titles were used sole-

ly to display information. The revolutionary idea to use title credit sequences in movies as an opportunity to introduce viewers to a films’ deeper themes was, in fact, Saul Bass’. Creating a compel-

ling title sequence can make a first impression on an audience by

providing a short visual metaphor to viewers and overall they can contribute to the effectiveness of a film. Bass designed for Holly-

wood’s most established filmmakers, such as: Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder. Bass’ last title sequence was

for modern director Martin Scorsese, in his film Casino. Regard-

ing his sequence for Casino, Bass stated, “The intent of this opening was to create a mood spare, gaunt, with a driving intensity… [that conveyed] the distortion and jaggedness, the disconnected-

ness and disjointedness of the addict’s life the subject of the film.” Bass designed titles for over 30 films.


If asked about the functional purpose of this soft covered book

you are currently reading, what would you say is its main advantage compared to a hardcover? Similarly, reflecting on a time you

bought a paperback, what was it that drove you towards this pur-

chase? If the affordability and portability attracted you, then you

have Aldus Manutius to thank. What he called libelli portatiles, or portable little books, had soft covers, were small in size and of great use to travelling scholars at the time, and for the masses today.

Aldus Manutius was born 1449 in Bassiano, Papal States (Italy),

and passed away in Venice, 1515. During this time, typographical art was in its very early stages of development. Designs and text were crudely etched into wood.

Growing up, literary texts were scarce, and many elementary books were painfully dry and unintelligible. “Doctrinale Alexadri de Villa-Dei,� was a grammar study that Manutius was said to

have despised reading. His future works may have been influenced by just this.

Manutius became a printer and publisher, whose printing press

changed the direction of book formatting and typography at the time. His focused was on printing inexpensive editions of classic texts, Aristotle, Dante, and Homer to name a few, with the hopes that all may have access to literary works.

The italic type was first used by Manutius to print an edition of

Virgil in 1501. This slanted design was critical for the production

of his pocket sized books; the format allowed letterforms to fit in narrow and compact spaces. Whereas italics are more contemporarily used to emphasize and/or bring attention to a certain word

and/or phrase, Manuthius had a much more economic intention. By using italics, smaller pages could hold more words, meaning fewer pages and decreased production costs.

This smaller format in book production revolutionized the avail-

ability of knowledge, similar to how laptops and smartphones have influenced lives in the twentieth-twenty first century. Aldus Manutius helped mobilize information.

The Contemporary Wordsmith CHAPTER THREE


Often when we think if new technology, we automatically think

that it will make our lives better. Sometimes this is true, but in the world of typography new technologies actually made print quality

worse. Typesetting was traditionally performed on printing presses where metal stamps were meticulously and painstakingly arranged to achieve the best product. Because the printing press was

labor intensive and required extensive training, publishers were excited about a new technology, phototypesetting, which drastically reduced the time and skill required to typeset books.

While the technology was initially limited to low quality publica-

tions like newspapers and magazines, the price eventually forced the new technology into more premium products like text books.

Donald Knuth, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, in 1978 received a gallery print of his second edition text-

book. Compared to the original version, he lamented, “The quality of typesetting was abominable. It was a pain to read. You couldn’t look at this because they had changed printing technology.� In

retaliation, Mr. Knuth decided to create a computer program to typeset his new book instead of using the phototypesetting method he loathed.

Just like any self-respecting typography student would, Mr. Knuth

began his research by tracing out the letters from existing typefac-

es onto paper. After many hours of studying the shapes he came to the conclusion that the phototypesetting system failed because,

whereas letters were designed by human beings which something

in mind for them, the typesetting process had no way to capture the intelligence or intentions of the type designer. Mr. Knuth de-

cided that in order for a computerized system to produce beautiful text, it must preserve the past traditions of typesetters instead of throwing them out like current technology had.

The systems Mr. Knuth developed changed typesetting from a

problem with metallurgy to a problem of mathematics. In contrast

to previous methods, his system does not rely on static characters but instead digitally creates each character based on the parameters given such as point size and weight. The advantage of using

digitally created characters is that each character is a perfect reproduction of the designer’s intentions whether printed on paper or displayed on a computer screen. Additionally, because text was

represented in an abstract way inside a computer, Mr. Knuth ap-

plied complex algorithms, such as automatic river reduction, that where time and labor prohibitive on traditional presses.

The typesetting systems that Mr. Knuth developed made great

progress towards digital publishing but the systems were not per-

fect. Specifically, the system required many different commands

to achieve the desired results. While many academics were able to effectively use the system, graphic artist publishers found the system difficult because they had little computer experience. In

the end, Mr. Knuth’s digital publish system never gained much acceptance outside universities. All of his work in not in vein, however, because many of the algorithms and principals he pioneered

are now integral parts of the most widely used software packages.


Emigre was a magazine about “the global artist who juggles

cultures, travels between them, and who is fluent in the cultural

symbols of the world.” It was founded in 1984 in Berkeley, CA by wife and husband Zuzanna Licko and Rudy VanderLans, who

created the type foundry. The word émigré, which often refers to a person who has “migrated out” of of something, perfectly defines

the foundry’s take on art and design. Emigre resisted typical design rules that had existed during its beginning and used its wild creations to offset long-accepted imbalances between form and content.

The foundry was the first of its kind to create and distribute fonts

made for and by a computer, and their work was made possible the advent of the Macintosh computer. Licko and VanderLans used

the magazine to explore and experiment with new and radical pieces that were created by computers using bitmap design, dot

matrix printing and vector-based design, rather than by hand and letterpress. This was a surprise to the design community whose

convention at the time placed a high value on calligraphy; the

norm was to create typestyles by hand before manipulating them on the computer. However, for Zuzanna Licko, the computer’s

tools opened a variety of opportunities because she was left-hand-

ed and thus had never been able to do calligraphy.Though the pair

of designers had not intended to break rules, Emigre started a typographic rebellion as a result of their explorations of the new

tools and capabilities created by the computer. Emigre’s radical design choices drew a great deal of attention from designers and critics alike, and in the beginning, they faced severe opposition. Some critics saw the creations as barbaric and described Emigre’s postmodern design as “the degradation of culture” and “The Cult of the Ugly.” However, after awhile, the argu-

ments subsided and Emigre grew to become an influential record label, merchandise vendor, and journal for design dialogues, and since then, the foundry has designed and licensed over 300 different typefaces from a variety of artists.


Erik Spiekermann is a German typographer and designer who

started his education at Berlin’s Free University studying art his-

tory. During his stay at the university, he funded himself by run-

ning a letterpress printing press in the basement of his house. He

later went on to establish FontShop, in 1988, the first mail-order distributor for digital fonts, with his wife Joan. This later evolved

into many other companies that strived to publish and distribute

fonts to artists and designers all over the world. During this time, he worked at MetaDesign, a global design consultancy. He currently holds an honorary professorship at the Academy of Arts in Bremen as a board member of German Design Council.

As an established designer, he has written many books such as

Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works and redesigned the magazine The Economist, a publication based in London.

Through out his career, he has created many commercial typefaces such as Berliner Grotest, Lo-Type, ITC Officina Sans, FF Govan, and FF Meta Serif.

Spiekermann had achieved many milestones in his career, one of

them being a Honorary Doctorship for his contribution to design

in April of 2006 from Art Center College of Design. He later collaborated with designer Christian Schwartz where they success-

fully designed the Deutsche Bahn family typeface. This won them the Gold Medal at the German Federal Design Prize in 2006. The following year, he was elected into the European Design Awards

Hall of Fame. Erik Spiekermann has the opportunity to participate in First

Things First 2000 Manifesto, a collaboration of a group of inter-

national graphic designers in 1999 that followed the publication of First Things First Manifesto in 1964. The goal was to generate discussion about the education and press exposure in the design

profession. Erik Spiekermann was one of the thirty-three design-

ers to sign the manifesto with the concerns of “free design� and the right to take a stand on who and what they are designing for.

Spiekermann is currently residing in Germany and runs his own company called edenspiekermann. Fun Facts: -His first love when it comes to typefaces is Reklameschrift Block -He believes FF Info Office is underrated -One of his proudest projects is making the buses and trams in

Berlin as well as designing the German Railways corporate design.

-He believes Arial is the most overrated font in the world

Modern Masters



Ed Benguiat is a scrapper - Ex-military, musician, Illustrator, typography. Supposedly,

after walking into the musician’s union one day saw other older musicians, who played wedding receptions and bar mitzvahs. He was like “screw this I want to

be an Illustrator!” Fortunately for Benguiat, his father was a lead illustrator for a New York department store so he was around those type of tools, influence, and opportunity, since the age of nine.

Ed Benguiat became a prolific lettering artist and became the ty-

pographic design director at a company called Photo-Lettering, which failed by the way. But Benguiat’s impact on the type com-

munity involves more than just design. He played a critical role

in establishing the International Typeface Corporation, the first independent licensing company for type designers. Ed jump-start-

ed the type industry in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.Eventually he became known for logo designs for Esquire, The New York

Times, Coke, McCall’s, Ford, Reader’s Digest, Sports Illustrated, and Estee Lauder. He created new ITC typefaces such as Bauhaus, Tiffany, Korinna, Panache, Modern No, 216, Bookman, Caslon

No. 225, Barcelona, and Avant Garde Condensed to name some of them. At some point, “The Ed Benguiat Font Collection” came into being, which is listed as a casual font family, named after the designer, which includes not only five typefaces

but a series of dingbats, or what House Industries staff dubbed,

during an interview, “bengbats.” This was a collection of glyphs

bases on his jazz percussion background. Benjuiat laments that student designers now show more interest in learning the computer rather than mastering the art of designing letterforms. “Too

many new designers substitute technology for talent, thinking

they’ve got a Mac and now they can draw a logo or a typeface. You have to learn to draw first. The computer won’t do it for you.”

He’s convinced that showing a font in an A-B-C format is not the

best way to sell it. You’ve got to SEE IT in action, typographically arranged exactly the way the designer had in mind. Each piece of designed typography should be, so to speak, a beautiful work

of art within itself. That’s what typographic communication is all about, “Liberating the Letter!”


Ed Fella was born in 1938. He grew up in Detroit Michigan and

studied at Cass Technical High School where he studied hand let-

tering, illustration, and commercial art. After that he went into the graphic design industry where he did a lot of work for auto-

mobiles. He then went back to school and studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art where he was able to experiment and explore art and design together.

Today, he is an extremely well recognized graphic designer, artist, illustrator and educator. His work is very different from what we

usually expect from graphic design in our time, which is expect-

ed to be clean and structural. His work breaks the rules. He deconstructs and distorts letterforms, using various different shapes, forms, spaces, and thicknesses. His hand lettering is an outburst of

fun movement and combinations of aspects belonging to different categories. Although at first glance his work may look disorganized or too free, each part of it is done extremely skillfully.

He combines serifs with san serifs, dingbats, scripts and much

more. Since he pushes so many boundaries of people’s common perceptions of design, he is known as a controversial designer.

Nevertheless, his design has a great influence in the industry, is extremely well received, and is followed by many people.

His way of mixing and matching, creating work that looks per-

haps crazy, very quirky, and extremely eccentric really changed how the current generation of designers think and work today.

In a world where the definition, methods, and role of design are

continuously changing with the transformation of society and culture; his work helps us to once again question what exactly defines

good design by pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity, yet still creating work which communicates and gives purpose.


Neville Brody is perhaps one of the most popular graphic design-

ers of his generation. He studied graphic design at the London

College of Printing and first worked on record cover and magazine designs, establishing his reputation as one of the world’s leading graphic designers. In particular, his innovative artistic contribution to The Face brought his artistry to another level. Brody also

won much public acclaim through his ideas on incorporating and combining typefaces into design. Later on he took this a step fur-

ther and began designing his own typefaces, thus opening the way for the advent of digital type design.

He was one of the founding members of FontShop in London and

over time has designed 24 font families. A distinctly notable font is the updated font Times Modern for the Times newspaper. In addition to pouring himself into design, he was also partly respon-

sible for starting the FUSE project, holding conferences to bring together speakers from design, architecture, sound, film and interactive design, and web.

What resonated with me more than his multiple decades of pro-

voking design and typographic work are his views on creativity and the future of innovation. Brody believes that designers should

take more risks and help draw attention to social issues. He advis-

es that with regards to politics, young designers have to find their own platform. The point he makes is that it’s more about being a

conscious designer than anything else. Some designers don’t think

about the consequence of their work, they are just motivated by

money and making things look ‘nice’. Then there’re others who

are only interested in designing for other designers. He hopes to teach by giving context and getting students to engage with the

idea that everything they do will somehow affect the society that they live in.

He admits that for a time graphic design had lost its relevance with

many designers halting experimentation and simply conforming. Their work became a case of style over substance. Brody that the

main medium holding designers back is the digital screen. Digital is becoming a utility. A few decades ago when people first started thinking about the potential of the internet, he expected much more innovation and experimentation by now, and so he tries to

push out from being boxed in in order to be great and hopes the same from other designers.

Designer Mayhem



Despite his indisputable influence in graphic design, David Carson manages to be a controversial designer to this day. Compared

to many influential typographers, Carson does not come from any ordinary formal art school background. Rather, into his mid-twenties, Carson was a professional surfer in California. It was not

until he was twenty-six and enrolled in a short design course that

exposed him to the wonders of typography. This unorthodox entry into the field is quite likely responsible for his unique impact. He experimented with type in ways that other artists with more formal typography education did not, manipulating text and throwing letters around that often rendered them illegible. Hence, Carson’s

most distinguished work was the source of debate seeing that it destroyed much of the communicative value of typography that many hold to be its primary purpose. However, at this expense he

enhances the expressionistic qualities of type before a viewer even reads the text.

Carson has worked on a variety of publications over the course

of his career, and his first role as an art director was for Tran-

sworld SKATEboarding in the 1980s. Over the course of his time there, he refined and began to gain notoriety for his distinct style

of design. The covers he designed demonstrate early decisions to manipulate and combine different typefaces, type sizes, and col-

ors into individual headlines. In doing so he successfully captures

the youthful and countercultural idealizations of skater culture.

Similarly, his other work facilitates its own messages through the messy layouts of text. He became the first art director of Ray Gun, a surf and music magazine in 1992. Seeing that the beginnings of

this publication were rooted in Carson’s vision, it very much had a distinct style, adding to the cutting-edge aesthetic that the maga-

zine embodied. His work in particular building elaborately chaotic typographical designs for Ray Gun garnered him enough fame to be featured in publications such as the New York Times.

After Ray Gun Carson went on to found his own design agen-

cy, David Carson Design, which still operates today. As the head of the agency, Carson revisited his passion for publications and created his own travel magazine, Blue which circulated for three years. David Carson Design has done work for companies with as

high of profiles as NBC, American Airlines, Pepsi Cola, and Toy-

ota amongst many more. His agency has maintained his unique aesthetic, with text all over the place and designs with aesthetics reminiscent of collage. Carson relays the significance of his

upbringing and unique background to be a driving force in his

typographic work. Today, he largely lectures including appearing on a TED Talk, and he emphasizes the importance of the individual voice, and that each person’s own unique experiences should

shape what he or she produces. Ultimately, Carson’s work is admirable not only in its own inventiveness, but also that it encour-

ages peers and other type designers to think about communication in new ways.


The Story Behind the Typeface You Probably Hate The Most Comic Sans MS is one of the most polarizing typefaces in the de-

sign community. Even people who aren’t designers have learned

to dislike the typeface. It’s almost a force of habit for most to despise Comic Sans. While the typeface itself is relatively known by many, neither the man behind the it nor the story of Comic Sans

have been brought to light. The history behind Comic Sans and its designer provides interesting insight about the typeface and can perhaps enlighten many on a typeface that they have grown to dislike.

Vincent Connare designed Comic Sans when he was working for

Microsoft in 1995. Connare is also the designer behind Trebuchet MS as well as one of the designers behind Webdings. He began working on Comic Sans in 1994 after seeing a beta version of Microsoft Bob, a personal assistant software being developed by

Microsoft in the ‘90s to appeal to younger users. The software

featured cartoon characters with word balloons and messages set

in Times New Roman. Connare found the typeface to be inappropriate for the given context of the software, so he started to design Comic Sans. As implied in the name, the typeface was based on

the lettering style in comic books that Connare had in his office,

namely The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. He was careful not to copy the lettering used, but instead pay close attention to the shapes the letters made considering that comic letterforms were

usually manually written at the time. Comic Sans wasn’t actually completed in time for the launch of Microsoft Bob. A rough copy was made when Microsoft Bob was

finished, but the typeface was larger than Times New Roman, so

it interfered with the metrics of the program. While it was too late for Microsoft Bob, the programmers of Microsoft 3D Movie Mak-

er--which also used cartoon characters and speech bubbles--began to use the font in their software. Comic Sans was later included in the Windows 95 Plus! Pack and then became a standard font for

Windows 95. The typeface eventually became one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Interestingly enough, such inclusion of the typeface in other programs was not what Connare had intended. Connare designed Comic Sans for applications that were primarily targeted toward children, which was what Microsoft Bob was at the time. It was

the widespread inclusion of the typeface in so many programs that allowed it to gain popularity among people of all ages. Connare

believes that people liked the font because it was fun and simple. Apple even used Comic Sans as the default font for Apple iCards

when they were first released. Ironically, this lead to wider use of

the typeface, perhaps overuse of it in appropriate situations, similar to the situation that lead to Comic Sans being created. Accord-

ing to Connare, the main designer of Twitter said that the most server space is used by complaints about airlines, Comic Sans, and Justin Bieber--in that order.


Lawrence Weiner was a leader of the Conceptual Art movement of the 60s. Thus, in order to understand Weiner as an artist and

typographer one must understand the Conceptual Art movement as a whole. Conceptualism, like its counterpart Minimalism, is

more easily described as a philosophy than as purely an artistic movement. As a reaction of the Contemporary and High Mod-

ern art scene during its time, Conceptualism was arguably born

through Marcel Duchamp’s works known as readymades. These readymades have made it possible for the art world to expand its mind into accepting more conceptual works such as the works of Lawrence Weiner.

Weiner is most well known for his typographic pieces. One of the initial pieces that he made based in typography was his book

“Statements” which contained exactly that, statements, through-

out the entire book. Weiner’s work despite being made primarily in text has been described as embodying every aspect and dimension of physical art. Weiner’s most famous workers use a phrase

or statement and typographically lay them out onto a wall or site. Through his typography he was able to transcend his art from a

conceptual realm into a metaphysical one. One other approach that Weiner uses is site-specificity to encapsulate the site as a whole

and adding his statement into the site thus creating a new meaning for the site as a while.

Lawrence Weiner’s “Bits and Pieces” piece spells the line “bits

and pieces put together to present a semblance of a whole� on the side of a building with a crevice going through the middle of the text. Weiner uses crevice as a guide for his work by aligning some

words to it and more cleverly kerning evenly but also words are not obstructed by the crevice. Other pieces he has made use this same method of combining site and type to create a piece that is greater than each individually.

Comic Sans + Helvetica WRITTEN BY IVY LI

Comic Sans has been the most hated font of this era by design-

ers, and Helvetica, too, is receiving a rising controversial reaction

from the design community, and there are historical, technical, and subjective reasons to account for the phenomenon.

First of all it is the exposure. Comic Sans is a casual, non-connect-

ing script font that was made by Vincent Connare for a very specific situation—a friendly speech bubble for Windows 95. And it

was then carried out by Microsoft as one of the default fonts in its operating system, and very soon it was largely celebrated by the

public, and reached its high time of misuse. It quickly appeared everywhere and on any publications, as it seemed to draw more attention from the general public in the pool of traditional fonts.

The exposure resulted in backlash, especially when they are used

in inappropriate situations like formal emails, legal documents and serious notifications. Helvetica, at the same time, is used massively around the world as a professional Swiss font since 1957,

when first developed by Max Miedinger. It was so loved and there is even a film for it. Its wide popularity makes it one of the most

used fonts in the entire planet, and several large companies have used it for their brand identities.

These two fonts also have technical reasons for the controver-

sial reactions they are getting. Comic Sans has very poor kerning when used as the body copy. And in terms of font design, it is con-

stituted of inconsistent edges and weird angles. Besides, it may

not even be a good comic font due to its awkward and unnatural

strokes. However, it is often praised for its legibility. Helvetica, despite that it is a professionally designed sans serif typeface that follows design principles, has strokes that are too ubiquitous that barely communicate to the contemporary audience at all.

And sometimes we designers just hate popular things, especial-

ly design related stuff that are mindlessly used by “the average

people”. When some fonts are used too much, they are perceived emotionally different in the social context. Comic Sans would

imply “bad taste” and everyone knows immediately that you are not are well-trained designer. Helvetica, on the other hand, means

“tasteless” ‘’boring” and “playing safe”. Partially due to these implications, Comic Sans and Helvetica are generally not favored as much by contemporary designers.

Interestly, there is a revival of Comic Sans going on right now.

The Comic Sans Project includes some very impressive examples to use Comic Sans the “right” way, which really emphasize its

playfulness and try to avoid some technical issues it may have.

Overall, the conversation around type showcases the awareness

not only from within the design community but also the general public, which is an achievement by itself.

Typography Book  

great job!

Typography Book  

great job!