Typography Needs to be Felt


With all the current emphasis on technologies, one needs to be constantly reminded that typography is an essential and powerful force for increasing communication effectiveness. That is its essential role. Improved technologies are only means towards that end.

The message needs interpretation… not interpretation as a masquerade of typefaces but interpretation as an evaluation of content. Interpretation in the sense of discovering the message which has been broken up into essential, minor and insignificant thoughts. Interpretation not only in advertising but also in literature, and ideally a close collaboration between form and content.

To bawl and to whisper, quickly and slowly, all these are expressions of verbal communication. Reading matter will also have to bawl and whisper, will have to run and to stroll, will have to emerge quietly and lovingly as esthetic experiences.

Typography lives its own esthetic life next to the functional typography, the typography of messages. We read words and sentences but are not aware of the formal qualities of typefaces as long as letters are lined up in order to convey a message.

Typography need not only be visible and legible. Typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced. Typography today does not mean to place, typography today means to portray.

At its best, typography today is a wonderful blend of art and technology. And that is nothing new. It was that way when ideograms were cut in tablets, or letters where chiseled in stone or penned on papyrus or scrolls. We just need to remember that long before today’s technologies were just ideas, and long after they are obsolete, the artist will have to manipulate some technology so that typography will be seen, and read, and understood, and, to be truly effective, be felt.

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