Typo November 2013
Includes portaits of
Karel Martens Claude Garamond Stefan Sagmeister
& Arabic Calligraphy
Typo November 2013
Type designers are, for the most part, some of the hardest working people in design. They show a true passion for their art form and details. Some designers have embraced new technologies to bring new meaning to type design or illustrative letterforms, while others have embraces classic faces of the past and revived or reworked them. Typography is changing fast, and designers need to keep abreast of the latest developments.
Karel Martens Claude Garamond Stefan Sagmeister Marian Bantjes Arabic calligraphy
4+5 6+7 8+9 10+11 12+13
When did you start working on OASE magazine? The first issue that I did was in 1990. Before it was a magazine of a different format, A4 size.
In his work, Karel Martens embraces both freedom and order. He finds inspiration in the limitations of the profession and turns obstacles into challenges. OASE, a Dutch architectural journal, is an illustration of how designer can maneuver in the narrow field of graphic design production. OASE balances between book and Karel a magazine and each new issue Martens gave reinvents its forms to surOASE a clear direction prise its readers. in and convincingly makes a Arnhem. magazine that is both modest and luxurious, making one believe that a low-budget publication is in fact a precious object to be collected. A grid became a fascinating element for Karel Martens. The most basic element in graphic design is given an active role that reflects the tone of the magazine. Karel is the founder of What Werkplaats Typografie is the size of in Arnhem. the OASE magazine? Did you suggest a new size? Yes. The magazine has quite a theoretical approach, so used this book format. Before was just loose papers, where students would hand their type-written essays. It looked very nice, I liked it, but it was a bit problematic to continue this way, so I decided to change it.
It is related to the maximum size of the sheet? Yes, 24×17 cm it is the most economical size for the 50×70cm presses in the Netherlands. It is very economical, however, you cannot bleed on all sides. I have to adjust the design to this as well, so we move all the images up on the sheet.
Maybe it is the diversity of forms, this plurality that allows you to decide each time individually... Yeah, perhaps... perhaps it is the flexibility of a small country. In big countries I see more constrains than here in the Netherlands. I don’t know.
But you were very influential for the magazine, you always propose the covers, you suggested the bilingual solutions, you discuss the articles... Of course, I read all the articles and talk about them, I choose the visuals, but I am not active in deciding about the future of OASE, this is not my worry. When I saw OASE for the first time I thought it looked very Dutch. When I’ve seen later issues this feeling was only reaffirmed. What do you think makes it look and feel so Dutch? That’s funny, I would also like to know...
So there is twice as much text now, but the same amount of pages? [laughs] Exactly...
How did OASE change when you worked on it with your students? There is not much difference. Of course now the work is much more of a dialogue, Stuart and Patrick have different visions, and this is their contribution to the magazine, but essentially there is not a big change.
Did you add more pages when OASE became bilingual? No, and that was the problem. The editor wanted to have the English translation, and asked me to put it in the back of the magazine. However, for me it was a nice opportunity to combine both languages, but they did not offer me more pages. The type was getting smaller and smaller.
It seems that you turn all the technical constrains and limitations to an advantage, and there is no visible aesthetic compromise in OASE, all the issues work well with all these limitations. Limitations are an important thing in design in general because they offer solutions.
How much are you involved in making the editorial decisions? Not so much, I am not as intellectual as the other people involved in the magazine...
Has the grid changed since the first issue? How was the grid evolving as the magazine was growing up? Yes, The 6×2 mm grid changed. When the production of OASE changed, and now we are doing it fully in-house, the grid changed. Now it is made completely on the Macintosh and this offers much more opportunities to play with columns, type and the margins.
And the change was using a book format rather then using a conventional magazine format? There was a lot of text, and not so many images. It was easier to read in a new format.
You seem to al most enjoy those limitations. It’s not that I would ask for them, but I am always trying to find my space when working on a project. There are not so many limitations as in the past, I feel more flexible, and it is much easier.
When you started working on OASE did you design a fixed grid for the future issues? For me the grid is an instrument that allows me to work with books. Very often it is a flexible grid so I am not too constrained, I still have to take decisions about placing text and images.
ooking at the pre-19th-century typefaces that are still in widespread use today is a little like visiting a modern re-creation of an Anglo-Saxon village. If you ignore the aircraft passing overhead you can easily imagine yourself back in the first millennium. But however absorbed the inhabitants seem in their daily tasks, you know that at the end of the day they will take off their coarsely woven garments, slip into some Lycra, and head home, probably picking up a takeaway and video en route. However convincing it all looks, in reality it's an elaborate fake.
nd that's just how it is in the world of type. You may think you're working with actual letter forms drawn in the 16th century, but they're actually a 20th-century re-creation based on the originals, or what were thought to be the originals. It can get confusing. Plantin was based on a face cut by the French type designer Robert Granjon (working 1545-88); the printer Christopher Plantin himself never used the original source type. Janson, designed in 1937, is named after a Dutchman, Anton Janson, who had nothing to do with the face at all; the design was inspired by the work of the Hungarian Nicholas Kis (1650-1702). The various versions of Baskerville are all 20th-century work; the earliest one was not even based directly on Baskerville's type, but on what came to be known later as Fry's Baskerville, a piece of 18th-century intellectual piracy.
ut it was only after the First World War that the bandwagon really picked up momentum. Suddenly every type foundry started producing its own version of Garamond. American Type Founders (ATF) were first, and then in 1921 Frederic Goudy offered his interpretation, Garamont. Monotype in England brought out theirs in 1924, and Linotype replied with Granjon. There were yet more versions on the market by the onset of the Second World War, most notably Stempel Garamond by the German foundry of that name.
ack at ATF, the company that had started the rush, Henry Lewis Bullen, librarian of the company's formidable archive, had nagging doubts about his company's product. One day, as recalled by his assistant Paul Beaujon, he declared: "You know, this is definitely not a sixteenth century type … I have never found a sixteenth century book which contains this face. Anyone who discovers where this thing comes from will make a great reputation."
eaujon wrote an article about the Garamond faces for The Fleuron, an English typographical journal. The pages had been proofed and the presses were ready to roll when Beaujon, visiting the North Library of the British Museum to check some dates, happened to glance at one of the items in the Bagford Collection of title pages. And there was the source type for all the 20th-century Garamonds.
n 1924 George Jones designed a face for the Linotype company which he called Granjon, but the design he used as inspiration turned out to be the work of Robert Granjon's fellow countryman and contemporary Claude Garamond (c. 1500-61). And the typefaces that bear Garamond's name — well, as the saying goes, fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride... aramond had long been regarded as one of the type designers par excellence of the century that followed Gutenberg's invention of movable type. Using Aldus Manutius's roman type as his inspiration, Garamond had cut his first letters for a 1530 edition of Erasmus. It was so well regarded that the French king Francois I commissioned Garamond to design an exclusive face, the Grecs du Roi. Although Garamond's typefaces were very popular during his lifetime and much copied, as for many of the early type designers the work didn't bring him much financial reward. When he died, his widow was forced to sell his punches, and his typefaces were scattered throughout Europe. Garamond the typeface gradually dropped out of sight, to disappear for nearly two centuries.
n the 19th century the French National Printing Office, looking for a typeface to call its own, took a liking to the one that had been used by the 17th-century Royal Printing Office, operating under the supervision of Cardinal Richelieu. Richelieu called his type the Caractères de l'Université, and used it to print, among other things, his own written works. The 19th-century office pronounced the face to be the work of Claude Garamond, and the Garamond revival began.
xcept that this typeface wasn't by Garamond at all. It was the work of another Frenchman, Jean Jannon (1580-1658), a 17th-century printer and punch-cutter. As a printer he was unremarkable, but as a designer and punch-cutter he was unparalleled, cutting the smallest type ever seen, an italic and roman of a size less than what would now be 5pt. Frequently in trouble with the authorities for his Protestant beliefs, Jannon had eventually found work at the Calvinist Academy at Sedan, in northern France. ardinal Richelieu's early years of office under Louis XIII were spent in a power struggle with the Huguenots, the French Protestants. An effective way of hastening their eventual submission was to remove their means of spreading information, and the government paid the academy a visit. Among the items confiscated in the raid was Jannon's type. Although Richelieu took exception to Jannon's religious affiliations, however, he liked his typography so much that his face is the house style for the Royal Printing Office.
ollowing a swift trip to the Mazarine Library in Paris to compare impressions with their Jannon specimen book, Beaujon's original feature was pulled in favor of a new one revealing the true source of the "Garamond" faces. It was hailed as a masterly piece of research, and the Monotype Corporation of England offered him the job of editing their in-house magazines. But the twist was that Beaujon, like the Garamond typefaces, was not at all what he appeared to be.
Stefan Sagmeister 8
Typo 9 Stefan Sagmeister
something outside of graphics. Something that’s more three dimensional, and This week, at the Reasons To Be Creative event in Brighton, single experidesigner Stefan Sagmeister of Sagmeister & Walsh took we needed furniture for the studio in New York. A very close friend of mine to the stage to talk mostly about his exhibition, The came to visit, and he looked at all the furniture prototypes and he basically ence, but Happy Show, which is currently touring the world. thought this was a waste of my time. He thought that I should do something noticing this in We sat down with Stefan after his talk to find that’s somehow more useful. That I have a little platform and there is a remyself, I thought out more about the exhibition, the reasoning sponsibility that comes with that. And doing this furniture for our own studio I’d do the same thing behind it and the accompanying documenwas not a good use of my time. At the time I didn’t really want to hear this, and just talk about my tary. Of course, we couldn’t leave withbut after thinking about it I thought, yeah he has a point. And I was thinking experience. I’ve seen that, what could it be that I would love to do but might also be useful to somebody out throwing in a question about the in the past, and this is not the naked postcard, too. TM: The Hapelse? At that point I had given a talk quite a lot on design and happiness first time I’ve realised it, by and large I am mainstream enough if I py Show is all about what makes that always generated a whole bunch of great feedback. I thought maybe people happy. Why did you making a film about this would be juicy, because it would force me to do the find something interesting other people research, it would be a challenge because I’ve never made a film, and there choose to explore happiness? do too. So I didn’t have to make a survey might be the possibility that if I make it personal, other people might be able SS: During my year in Bali, on is this interesting or not. If I think this is during my experimental to relate to it. TM: As part of your research, you found that happiness juicy other people do too. TM: For The Happy sabbatical year, we is based 40% on doing new activities, 10% on the state of your life Show, you tried three strategies (meditation, made a whole bunch and 50% in genetics. Where did you get your statistics from? SS: I read cognitive behavioural therapy and SSRIs or antiof furniture. The roughly three dozen books and met many, many psychologists. The stuff that depressants) to improve your own happiness, looking furniture idea I quoted comes mostly from three people. One is Jonathan Haidt from NYU. at techniques that make a ‘sane’ person happier rather than helping someone with mental health issues such as was to exThe second is Daniel Jacob at Harvard, and the third is Steven Pinker also plore at Harvard. But neither the film nor the show are really about the statistics. I depression. How were you sure that you are a good example am not a psychologist and I am not an expert on what makes people happy. of a ‘sane’ person? Is there even such a thing? SS: In psychology Not at all. But I can talk quite authoritatively about what makes me happy, there are tests to see if you’re sane or not. And so from a purely scienbecause I’m a pretty damn good expert on myself. There is nobody better. tific level yes it can be measured and yes I did do those tests and yes I was So the statistics basically are the icing on the cake and I very much cherry sane. Words like crazy are overused to the point of meaninglessness. For picked it. It’s very much from a personal point of view because the stuff that example, Salvador Dali, not one of my favourite artists, apparently said: The spoke to me, I quoted. The stuff that didn’t I happily ignored. Even though I difference between crazy people and me is that I know that I’m crazy. But I shit myself feel very comfortable leaning towards the scientist point of view know of course the craziness in Dali was a branding and marketing gimmick together. rather than the self help section, neither the show nor the film are that he used very deliberately because he was a fairly meticulous person I know that strictly scientific. It’s very much a personal project. TM: During otherwise he couldn’t paint those extremely ridiculous and carefully planned out paintings. In that space, craziness has a similar sort of annoying overuse your talk, you mentioned that doing new activities is also in Chicago one of the factors of happiness, and for you, the film I just found out as creative and it’s just that kind of terminology just loses everybody’s interest and The Happy Show were new activities, as was that it’s going to be because it’s used so broadly. TM: Which method did you find was most successful at improving your personal happiness? Which would you the research. How much was the show about a new record for the making yourself happy? SS: It made me meamuseum as far as attenrecommend to creative people? SS: I would say that, strangely and unsurably happy because I did measure it. While dance is concerned. In Philexpectedly for myself, I was probably the most creative on antidepressants. doing the research, I found that whenever a adelphia they tripled their averA lot of people have come up to me and told me they’re on antidepressants and I’ve literally heard every possible answer, negative and positive. Nobody scientist did personal research, I found it age time spent in the museum. It’s so much more interesting than when clearly something people are interested really knows why or how they’re working. We don’t even really know if they they talked about a study that in. That’s the main reason we do it. If the do something. There is authoritative research in the UK that shows the entire they commissioned. Which feedback would have been zero we wouldn’t group of antidepressants has such a little difference from placebo. TM: Many logically makes no sense have done it. TM: What are you working on of your paths to happiness involved being in other countries. Do you because of course the now? SS: Right now I’m very engaged in trying to think true happiness requires a separation from the mundane? SS: study is going to be get The Happy Show filmed up. It’s odd, even though My own experience is that variety in everything works. For example, a total better or more we’re not really exhibition designers and there are many eclipse is really exciting for me. But if I look at it from a design pizazz point of exact informaareas of that new to us too, the way a narrative is told in a view, a sunrise is much more exciting, and is much better looking than a total tion than show is still more similar to a usual graphic design narrative. It’s eclipse. The eclipse is ok but the eclipse is special only because of its rarity. shorter, leaves the viewer free to make the decision whether they their If we were to have an eclipse every morning, and a sunrise every couple of want to take the design in or not, so we are more familiar with it and it own years, oh my God people would go nuts for that sunrise. It’s also the reason why, measurably for me, I’ve been travelling heavily for a very long time now, is easier. The film I find is much more difficult because we are dictating the pace, we’re dictating the beginning and the end, and ultimately there’s and it surprises me myself how much I still like it. And of course the main such a sophisticated medium where we’ve all seen so much good work. I reason I still like it because I very carefully select the destinations and I don’t go to the same places repeatedly and I extremely avoid anything that’s max definitely feel out of my depth and find it very difficult. TM: To announce of a commute and that’s why it works. TM: How long did it take you to your partnership with Jessica Walsh, you sent out a postcard of the create The Happy Show? SS: We’ve been talking about the subject pair of you posing naked, and for you it was the second naked postfor about 10 years. We’ve been working on the film for about three card you had shared with the world. You joked in your talk that you get sick of seeing yourself naked all the time. Looking back on it now, and a half and the show itself was sort of an outcome of the film. how do you feel about it? SS: I’m not embarrassed about it, not at all. It’s And the first one was happening two years ago and it’s been a piece of design that truly worked. And now I am of course very aware that travelling ever since. We’ve adapted the show depending on pieces of design do much more than being functional, but the function part where it goes. It’s going to Paris next. TM: Is it coming of it, it fulfilled beyond anything that you would normally expect a simple little to the UK? SS: If it could I would love it. I mean right card to do. You can look at it from a formal point of view, where it’s not a now since it’s going to come over from Chicago to Paris that might make it easier, because of great piece of design. Or, you could look at it from a stylistic point of view: I’d say there’s two things going on. There’s a mediocre looking guy and a very course shipping is a big part of the cost. TM: Are you pleased with the outpretty woman on there. But people saw its point of view afterwards. I think overall the feedback was overall very, very positive. I for a second was worried come after all your hard work? SS: because I read a couple of comments that went down the line of, Oh, they Yes, on all fronts. We’ve got unbeprobably fuck each other and she got only the job because she’s good-looklievable feedback. Among my ing and young. I was actually less worried about me because I can handle favourite was a 15-year-old myself, but I was worried about Jessie. As soon as I checked with Jessie she boy from Toronto who, didn’t give a shit whatsoever. She basically said I’m not naive, I knew from on account of seeing the beginning that some people might think that, and she didn’t give a shit. the show, kissed Right now she has a fairly successful project going on about dating and it his first girl beis very clear that we are not dating. It’s all fine. The Reasons to be Creative cause he ficonference in Brighton brought together the likes of Stefan Sagmeister, Jon nally got his Burgerman, Geri Coady, Erik Spiekermann, Naomi Atkinson, Fabio Sasso, Mr Bingo and more to discuss topics dear to most creatives’ hearts: from finding happiness and creative success and failure, to how to motivate yourself and change what you do for the better. It even got attendees singing in unison.
‘I have a very uneasy and, yes, guilty relationship with decoration. I do it because I have to; it’s an obsession,’ says Marian Bantjes, a designer and illustrator from Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada. It is not the obsessive aspect of her relationship to her work that concerns Bantjes, however. In fact, she thinks that the best and most powerful ornament comes out of obsession and long hours of intense labour, where all sense of time and reality disappears. What she does struggle with is the extent to which what she creates is superfluous stuff, and whether there is deeper meaning to be found through working with ornament. ‘I do feel that there is something there in my own work (and in other people’s) that goes beyond gratuitous prettiness,’ says Bantjes. In ‘Please Say Yes’, for example, she has given the words Please Say Yes deep intricate taproots that cascade the length of the page as a way to express what she calls all the imploring hope of those words. She says, ‘The ornament in this case is not merely decorative.’ ‘There is something about ornate intricate work that seems to stir the soul in most people,’ Bantjes observes. ‘How can you look at anything by William Morris and not feel some kind of awestruck love? ‘Interestingly, the decorative arts appear most famously in religious works. There really is some kind of connection to love and inspiration there. The thousand ornamental ways that Islamic calligraphy praises Allah; the glitter of stained glass windows and the excess of carved arches in churches; illuminated manuscripts. Where there is genuine love, care and craft, I think there is something being communicated that cannot be communicated in any other way.’ Bantjes’ investigation of patterns began through painting them. They began to make their way into the design work she was doing, but it wasn’t until she left her design firm Digitopolis in 2003 that the patterns, as she puts it, ‘sprung forward full force’. At the same time she was becoming increasingly restless with the standard tasteful and clean aesthetic that dominated so much graphic design at the time. According to Bantjes there’s a big difference between ‘good and bad ornament’, between ‘decorative messes and considered arrangement’. She is not impressed by patterns that simply repeat an icon over and over again: ‘Anybody can do that. A good pattern is like William Morris where the tiling unit is seamless. You have to analyse the whole pattern to find where that tiling unit is,’ she says. Bantjes always begins the process of pattern-making by drawing on graph paper, taking care, she says, to think beyond the ‘boxiness of the medium’. She scans the drawing and repeats it using Photoshop. ‘It’s amazing what happens to something when you see it repeated six or eight times,’ she says. ‘I print it out and start redrawing it – filling the holes – then I take it back into Photoshop and repeat it again.’ In the future she would like to explore the possibility of reconciling ornament with Modernism. ‘Rationality and emotionality can live together,’ says Bantjes.
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Obstacles written by Peter BiL’ak Unique written by Simon Loxley Happiness written by Ashleigh Allsopp Obsession written by Alice Twemlow Arabic calligraphy written by Julia Kaestle Design by Merete Kulset (©2013)