Jan Tschichold and New Typography

Graphic design and typography have gone through a tremendous journey since Guttenberg. Movement after artistic movement have come and gone, some reacting against and others attempting to improve on previous ones. Top among design movements that bear revisiting is New Typography, not only because of the professional manner in which its designers went about business, but for its influence on modern day print industry. One name to which much credit goes in this regard is Jan Tschichold.

With the onset of WWI, typography took a new turn. Focus was riveted on war propaganda and it’s easy to see how and why professional conventions of graphic design often took a backseat. Artists didn’t always adhere to professional code, but employed sensational imagery to sway masses for political expediency. Nowhere was that more apparent than in Germany where blackletter type had for so long been a national political instrument. It’s thus paradoxical that Jan Tschichod, a German emigrant calligrapher, would play a significant role in typography. What’s more, his views on type became the basis of his personal safety forcing this arts educator to flee to Switzerland. This serves to demonstrate how typography, as a melting pot for divergent ideas, has evolved over time.

Tschichold is important because, like his changing views, the evolution of typography reflects a wavering aesthetic value of letterforms. Tschichold’s about-turn on New Typography later in life speaks to the instability of ideas in the face of political threat. Unlike some of his compatriots at Bauhaus, Tschichold had sense enough to discern the inevitability of change. But change is a shift from an established position, and Tschichold is the man credited with codifying of modernist rules of design. He instituted non-centered, flash left designs; he taught effective use of different sizes and weights of type for easy conveyance of information, and his influence led to standardization of paper sizes for all printed materials.

In a 1924 advertisement, Tschichold listed principles of New Typography in a how-to instruction manual approach. He wanted designers to use vertical and horizontal grid, rule bars and boxes, white spaces as elements of design, etc. all of which constituted what he termed ‘dynamic force of designs’. To achieve such required contrasting design elements and specific placements of text and images on a page. Beside these rules, Tschichold rejected the use of embellishments and decoration of type, insisting on san serif. He also rejected symmetry, and had asymmetry in its place. Ironically, while insisting on san serif, Tschichold was opposed to the geometric Architype Bayer which was a favorite of many Bauhaus designers. Thus, in creating rules for typography, rather than suggestions, Tschichold reenacted the unyielding intolerance of most artistic movements.

New Typography was an outgrowth of the Bauhaus, a school designed to marge fine and applied arts to achieve architectural prowess. A conglomeration of ideas, including Russian constructivism, dada, expressionism, De Stijl and other movements informed the Bauhaus. Tschichold, a constant guest at the school, and, himself a significant influence in Bauhaus ideals, was acquainted with the progressive nature of art, but he still created stringent rules for New Typography, which designers were not free to break. Before long, a new movement, the International Style arose and begun to dismantle the rules of New Typography as every movement had done to the one before it.

Standards are great, they provide starting points. Standardized paper sizes and typographic hierarchy help maintain consistency. But rules that cannot be broken are the surest way to kill creativity and prevent advancement, and Tschichold gave us both.

The Chick-Fil-A Logo

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The image in discuss is the Chick-Fil-A logo. This logo is featured all over Chick-Fil-A product and services that appear both within the restaurants and outside the restaurants. This logo is the main mark that Chick-Fil-A uses to associate themselves with. The logo is made up of text with slight graphic embellishments around the initial C that appears in the logo.

The logo is made up entirely of a script-like cursive typeface that displays all of the letters of the company name, Chick-Fil-A. The typeface in the logo also contains rounded terminal that makes the typeface bubbly. The only color that is used in this logo is the color red, which is a pantone color that is specific to the brand. This means that the color used in this logo should be consistent across all uses, the only exception being those that are permitted within the brand guidebook for the company. There are a few graphic elements that have been placed around the “C” of the typeface in order to create an abstract appearance of a chicken. These graphic elements consist of four ovals above the C which diminish proportionately in size as they follow the stroke of the C. There is a triangular shape that is placed directly above the “h” that the viewer visually connects with the C in order to aid the visibility of the chicken figure. To top it off, there is a small oval that represents an eyeball that is placed within the bowl of the C. Overall the design is minimalistic but still effective in communicating the main item that the brand sells, chicken.

This particular logo for Chick-Fil-A has been in use for many years and because of this, the logo is recognizable for the brand. Despite the fact that the logo spells out the name of the company, people immediately recognize its association with the quick service restaurant chain. The age of the logo speaks volumes for the excellence in its design because people immediately identify with the logo. The logo itself gives off a classic vibe that allows the consumers to feel as though they can trust the brand. A classic vibe means that the logo has not been changed or altered with the design trends throughout the years. While competitors change their logos and typefaces to reflect design trends over the years and for different campaigns, Chick-Fil-A has kept their logo over time that also gives it a timeless aesthetic. The logo is associated with the company that is known for its excellent customer service and speed in deliverance of food and beverage orders.

To conclude, the logo is very successful because it has been able to last so long as the company’s logo and also because it says a lot about the company at a very minimal level. Chick-Fil-A’s main good for sale is chicken and this logo is very effective at showcasing what the company does while comforting the viewer at the same time.

Irish Type Design

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Irish Type Design. Dermont McGuinne. (Dublin: National Print Museum, 2010. Pp. 219.)

In his book Irish Type Design, Dermont McGuinne describes the history of Irish typography as it developed chronologically. During his survey of the history, he makes reference to the religious or political influences that pushed the development of Irish typography one way or the other. The focus of this book is survey the history of Irish Typography from the 16th century to modern day. This textbook of history is meticulously researched with not only textual notes but also photographic and typographical specimens that showcase the different typefaces as they advance through history. For students, educators, and those who are currently working in the graphic design field with a concentration on typography, this book provides a global perspective, expansive research, knowledge, and analysis of the growth of these typefaces and how it relates to Irish political history. The organization of the book spark interest to religious and political happenings that influenced the way each typeface was created and executed within documents. The book also pays homage to the historical references to the typography and type design and the religious and political needs for typefaces.

At a glance, the topic of the entire book describes different Irish typefaces as they evolved through history and were met by different political needs religious commissions. The statement that the author makes in his thesis is very clearly organized throughout the book. The author organizes this information into chapters that deal with a different era of typefaces pertaining to Irish history. In the opening of the book, McGuinne outlines where his research led him in order to write this book as well as creating interest in how little information is actually available on this subject. This information was difficult for him to obtain because a lot of the type specimens had been destroyed and the few that were saved were locked into libraries and archives that were not easily accessible to the general public. McGuinne had to prove his scholarly intent in order to have access to these archives. The information he obtained was placed into his book and divided into chapters based on typeface. Chapters are organized by the chronological eras of type and include: Queen Elizabeth type, the Louvain Irish type, the Roman Irish type, the Moxon Irish type, the Paris and Parker types, the Barlow and Christie types, the Watts, Fry and Figgens types, the Petrie type, the Newman Irish type, and the Colum Cille type. The concluding chapter of his book compares the Roman glyphs against the Irish glyphs. This concluding comparison is a summation of his research and allows the reader to visually see where Irish typography began and where it currently is. The modern roman characters are have a sturdy structure compared to its predecessors where a heavy manuscript influence was observed in earlier typefaces.

One of the most interesting facts that the author states early in the book is that the original Irish alphabet only had about 18 glyphs in its type library and the author shows, through different type specimens in the later chapters, how these 18 glyphs evolved into the modern alphabet that we know and use today in America. There are many layers of history that the author explores in his book and this detail of how new characters were added is a key detail to explore in this telling of history even if it is a very small fact. When reading more into the book the reader will find that there is an immense growth in the need for typefaces and how many people were involved in producing them. Each era adds on to a new typeface that was more developed than the last. The printers and foundries also became more numerous as history progressed. This book shows not only a history but a birth and growth of an aspect of design.

Another author theme that spans throughout the book is how each typeface was influences or commissioned by political or religious means. The Queen Elizabeth type was actually commissioned by the Queen herself and was used in most of her royal documents. As each typeface began as a unification of manuscript writing, the Irish continued creating manuscript typefaces for all of their typefaces discussed in this book, even the typefaces that have a more roman aesthetic, still have a manuscript influence to them. Queen Elizabeth enjoyed speaking to various foreign visitors to her court in their own language (pg 5). This desire she had is what really led to the development of the typeface that she commissioned. The inspiration for this typeface was actually found in numerous collections of manuscripts The original creator of Queen Elizabeth’s typeface was John Day who was the Queen’s designated printer. Political and diplomatic reasons fueled the Queen’s desire for the typeface but1 the design of the typefaces was taken from religious manuscripts. It is interesting to see two ideologies come together to create something for the furthering of humanity.

The work is a great contribution to history because it was one of the first deep explorations of its topic. There are many books out there that focus on the history and development of type but none of them provide an extensive historical account of Irish type design. This work is excellent for that very reason; it provides an in-depth analysis of a large variety of typefaces that originated in Ireland. An understand of Irish type design and history will provide any typographer or graphic designer with a greater understand of typefaces from all over the world by furthering their understanding of how different nations drew influences from each other and also how they each advanced individually.

Irish Type Design” displays information beautifully and in a way that the hierarchy of information is easy to understand. The amount of research that is evident in the book provides an excellent backbone for the book and makes each chapter full of information. This book not only connects type design to history, but also connects type design to its own development. For students, educators, and graphic designers who want to learn more about the origin and history of Irish type design, this book is one to soak into and examine all of the specimens and facts within its pages.

Hans Rudi Erdt

Hans Rudi Erdt its an artist born and based in Germany. Erdt is one of the main artists working in the Sachplakat (Poster Style) movement. In the Sachplakat movement, artist wok with simplified forms, colors, and shapes to get an idea across.

 

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In “UBoote Herasus” (The U-Boats Are Out!), Erdt uses Sachplakat for the advertising of a movie poster promoting the government film celebrating submarine warfare. This poster breaks things into simplified shapes and colors. The Figure is in the foreground and blocked out into peach, black, and red shapes. The typography in this poster is simple yet experimental. The “U” is centralized in the composition, it encompasses the commander and the boat sinking in the back.  The black silhouette of the “U” and boat echo each other. Although this poster was made specifically for a movie; it still has elements of World War 1 propaganda.

In the Moslem Poster Erdt uses Sachplakat to advertise cigarettes. This poster uses four colors black, red, white, and peach. The background combines effortlessly with the figure in a minimalist fashion. The Cigarette smoke makes a shape that wraps around the “M” in Moslem. Both of these posters show how Sachplakat is used for advertising in different ways.

Manoli Limit poster takes a slightly different approach to Sachplakat. In this poster there is no figure and the main focus is the cigarettes. The box of Manoli’s are open with cigarettes all across the ground. “Manoli” is repeated multiple times, in the title and along with the box. Conceptually, this piece works perfectly because the main focus (the product) is never lost.

Hans Rudi Erdt is an artist that uses Sachplakat to advertise and promote numerous concepts and ideas, from World War 1 propaganda movie posters to cigarette ads.

Works Cited

http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-72220.html

http://www.artfinding.com/28722/Biography/Erdt-Hans-Rudi

 

A.M. Cassandre

Classified as a painter, commercial poster artists and typeface designer, Adlophe Mouron Cassandre was a very successful and popular artist due to his techniques in Surrealism and Cubism. As he progressed, his style became closely associated with Art Deco, which can be described as, “a fusion of various early 20th century styles”. It compiled the stylized curves of Art Nouveau and the geometric abstraction of Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism (artyfactory.com).

Elements of Art Deco consisted of unexpected combinations and patterns that always placed the decorative style of an object before its functional qualities. However, Cassandre believed that by designing a poster, it meant, “solving a technical and commercial problem in a language that can be understood by the common man” (artyfactory). With this sense of thinking, he was proclaimed to be one of the greatest poster designers of the 20th century, and a trailblazer for design.

Most of his designs possessed bold, dynamic, shapes, complimented with lines and forms that were brought together by fashionable/complimentary text. His talents didn’t just stop at the layout of his design, but transpired into how he executed his usage of colors as well. In majority of his designs he saturates his art with a vast amount of black, weather it be in the background, throughout the text, or simply used for the border. In each of his designs he either guides the eyes of the reader or limits eye movement to highlight the focus or inner message of the poster.

A great example of this design can be seen within a print that was created for a cabinetmaker, titled Au Bûcheron. In this design “a starkly drawn, well muscled black figure posed against a radiant yellow background, holds a woodsman’s axe upraised to the full length of his rippling arms.” (dieselpunks.org)

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In addition to the usage of black, Cassandre pays godly attention when applying highlights. Instead of simply demonstrating simple strokes of a contrasting color, this artist creates a harmonious gradient that allows readers to strengthen their visual perception of texture/material. This example can also be seen in arts titled “UNIC” or “Pathe”, where cassandre angelically displays a sheen and slickness to the surface area that implies the shape, direction and material based off how large and the direction of how the gradient persist.

 

Work Cited

http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/graphic_designers/cassandre.htm

http://www.dieselpunks.org/profiles/blogs/the-art-of-am-cassandre

https://drehergraphicdesign.wordpress.com/amcassandre/