AESTHETICS IN TYPOGRAPHY

During the Renaissance, Blackletter and Oldstyle serif type were heavily used. Page layouts were filled to the edge with type and decoration, resulting in a cramped appearance. Johannes Gutenberg, a skilled guild worker used typography technologies such as paper, block printing to introduce moveable type printing to Europe in the mid 15th century, though it should be noted that the Chinese invented paper, block printing, and even moveable type centuries before. As printing technologies advanced in Europe, bookmaking became an increasingly popular way to spread culture and information. Letters became more mechanical and layouts became more organized. Gutenberg’s Bible is one of the most famous works produced with the “early” technology of the printing press, and you can see characteristics of the heavy, condensed type and a more organized layout. Later, as people realized the importance of rationalization, letterforms became more geometrically and precisely constructed.

 

Page from the Gutenberg Bible Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1173676

Page from the Gutenberg Bible
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1173676

 

Type specimen, Romain du Roi, De Rochefort, Public domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Romain_du_Roi.jpg

Type specimen, Romain du Roi, De Rochefort, Public domain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Romain_du_Roi.jpg

 

The Industrial Revolution meant the rise of mass production. Print work influenced society and was pushed further by mechanization and commercialization. Here, we see clearer, more legible formats in newsprint, books, and advertisements. Giambattista Bodoni created a highly rationalized font by using the same parts for almost each letterform. His books were carefully and cleanly designed. The rising of consumer culture, mass production and commodification meant advertising was itself becoming a rising industry. Creative display fonts also emerged during industrialization. They can be seen as a stark contrast to the more geometric letterforms. They are novelty designs, competing for attention from consumers. Designers continued to experiment with straighter, mechanical letterforms, including slab serifs and the first sans serifs. 

Giambattista Bodoni, Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Manuale-Tipografico1.jpg

Giambattista Bodoni, Public Domain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Manuale-Tipografico1.jpg

 

Display Types Specimen, James Puckett from Boulder, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Display Types Specimen, James Puckett from Boulder, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

In the Modernist era, the world is more connected, and various international art movements have a huge influence on typography. Modernist movements responded to increasing globalism, mechanization, and war. These movements included Futurism and Dadaism, and they created expressive, dynamic type designs that broke traditional typographic customs. This particular example is from Fillipo Marinetti, the founder of the Futurist movement. The mixed typefaces and dynamic arrangement created a visceral, chaotic feeling that was a response to the increasingly mechanized and modern society. The Futurist and Dadaist aesthetics would later prove to be influential to other underground movements, including the punk and feminist movements. Their chaotic design carried over to fanzines, which were self-published, countercultural ephemera used to empower marginalized groups. Of course, this style didn’t make its way into mainstream media, but it established an important connection between words and image. The power of the verbal/visual connection would be more apparent in the following years, especially in advertising.

 

Book Cover of Zamg Tumb Tumb, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Futurist editions of "Poesia", Milan, 1914. Talmoryair at Hebrew Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Book Cover of Zamg Tumb Tumb, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti,
Futurist editions of “Poesia”, Milan, 1914.
Talmoryair at Hebrew Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

In the postmodern era, Jan Tschichold’s The New Typography addressed problems he saw in the field. He advocated for the use of sans serif fonts and an asymmetric layout, for they achieved a more neutral and universal look, and represented the information in a clearer way by establishing visual hierarchy. This minimal, nondescript look was visually impactful and continues to be used to this day. Technological advances as well as increasing consumerism and globalism also made it important that type be highly legible and/or eyecatching.

July 1963 issue of Neue Grafik, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neue_Grafik_July_1963.jpg

July 1963 issue of Neue Grafik, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neue_Grafik_July_1963.jpg

© 2019 History & Evolution Typography (SU2019 – Group X).  Provided by WPMU DEV -The WordPress Experts. Hosted by OCAD University Blogs.

Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.