“Well chosen words deserve well chosen letters…”
This is one of my favorite quotes. I read this quote in Robert Bringhurst book, The Elements of Typographic Style. I took it and still take it to heart. I strongly believe that words that have been well chosen deserve well chosen letters. Not every font is worthy of the words they are supposed to represent. Not every word is worthy of some beautiful fonts. In fact, some words are not even worthy of being printed at all, as we have recently seen in the media this week.
Few years ago, actually 10 years ago. My then Pastor asked me do design few symbols for the covers of our Sunday programs. I then, paused and said.. why not do type? What if we took this as a chance to give the verses you will be preaching about that week well chosen letters? He liked the idea. We made an arrangement that by Wednesday nights he would send me a verse. If he was late, we were to use a generic one or the previous week’s verse. I designed them, saved them as PDFs or JPEGs and sent them on Friday mornings to the copy center that was also printing the inside pages. I think I have more than 200 hundred versions of different verses stored in a disc.
Our arrangement did not involve money, though they wanted to pay me. I did this pro-bono. In exchange, I was free to design whichever way I saw appropriate as long as it was black and white. Sometimes we would do a color one and sometimes I printed it at home to keep cost down. We used white paper and eventually I created a template for the inside pages that Ivan, my best friend’s husband reconstructed in Word.
This was a great exercise in working with type. Just pure type. No images, no color, no embellishment… Just type. Sometimes I had NO idea what to do. I would stare at the screen and my mind would draw a blank. However, the discipline of doing this every week, even when I was blank, allowed me to hone my typographic skills. Being that I had established a no images or symbols criteria, I had to learn to deal with type in an emotional way. Type is more than printed words on a screen or printed. Type is the vehicle that allows ideas, concepts, thoughts, emotions, expressions become alive. Typography makes the words visible, tangible if you will. Typography makes ideas accessible, palpable. Say I am communicating an idea to you… your thoughts and imagination are going to interpret them in a probably different manner than I am seeing it. However, if I write it down or type it out… ah! Now we have a common ground. Now we have a visual bridge if you will, that allows us to create an interaction with that which has been printed to facilitate our communication.
Well you might be asking yourself, are we going to see some of those covers? Yes you are! Here is a short sample of the things I did. I miss doing this… but I learned years ago.. that to try to replicate something that was meaningful when things collided to create it, that moment in time that was so meaningful unfortunately cannot and will not be recreated and forcing it will not do anybody any good. So, in honor of my dear friend John Wiers, my former Pastor, I will show you today a small sample of these covers.