Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Balance and Grace

In my last post, I told some about typesetting changes in recent history and from my own experience. I think type has a special place in my psyche because one of my first jobs other than baby-sitting was working with type. My dad, an art director for a large ad agency in the Midwest, put me to work when I was a teenager.

One of the free-lance tasks I did for him was hand-setting lines of type with stick-on letters. There were certain applications, now simply done on the computer, that at the time, had to be done by hand. These included lines of type on a curve and other applications. This is not difficult, but it does take a certain amount of aesthetic judgement to balance each letter with the right air space.

Adjusting spacing between letters  is called "kerning". It is easily done now on the computer but a few decades ago it could be tedious and time-consuming. I had a good eye for balance and spacing, so this came easy to me. An ability to see how type balances has a downside, however.

I notice examples everywhere of bad letter spacing: in ads, on buildings, magazines and books.. even on our wood stove. I see that "RESOLUTE" layout (in cast iron!) and want to move the letters: decrease spacing after the "E", the "S", the "O" and the "U". Or increase spacing in the other tight areas.

If I look at the ill-constructed arrangement very long, it really bugs me. Especially in fairly permanent applications, it becomes a source of irritation and I can't help but wonder why someone in charge of putting the project together didn't see the problem.

Logos, which represent a product with an identifiable symbol, should be especially beautiful, but just looking around my house reveals a bevy of unbalanced lettering: everything from art supplies to high-end garments. Why?

Such is life. Insults to aesthetics abound in this world.


Melanie Thompson said...

When I worked as a graphic artist at our local newspaper I was always impressed with the number of jobs computers eliminated. I heard stories about how what I did in one day once took a team of 5-10 people!

I'm with you on the letter spacing, although it has to be pretty bad for me to notice. Probably because thanks to computers I didn't have to stare at it as much as you did! For me it was just a matter of clicking the drop down menu to switch from metric to optical kerning and voila!

I love the examples you gave, especially with artists materials you would expect better attention!

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments, Melanie!

As for the examples I showed, I barely scratched the surface. I could go on and on, and display more photos, but I figure why irritate other typophiles?