Famous Quotes from Type Designers

Miss Tiffany's picture

Alright fellow Typophiles, what are your favorite quotes from famous type designers. Can't tell you why, it is a surprise. However, we could also put these in the wiki. I'll start:

"Anyone that would letterspace blackletter would steal sheep." Frederic W. Goudy

Chris Dean's picture

Dean, C. T. (2012).

Originally tweeted by @Readthetype:
To all graphic designers, when in doubt just ask yourself WWJMBD? (What Would Josef Müller-Brockmann Do?) If you don’t know who he is, quit.”

dezcom's picture


dezcom's picture

Christopher, regarding Müeller-Brockmann, he would do as he always did, use flush-left Helvetica ;-)

kentlew's picture

When I specifically asked Matthew about that “beautiful collection of letters” bon mot last year, his response was, “I'm sure I heard it from Mike Parker, but where he heard it I don't know.”

William Berkson's picture

Interesting, Kent. Parker and Tracy were heads of typeface development at Linotype US and UK respectively, at the same time, so it's quite possible that Parker heard it from Tracy. It's still an open question, but we're getting closer to the answer.

hrant's picture

It seems to me you just got further. :-)
I guess now ask Mike.

Speaking of which:


alkouatli's picture

I'm Saadi.
I don't know who said this quote: "Stay true to your form no matter where you are."
When I read it I knew it was perfect to expose the beauty of a font. So I did this experimental video with two of my friends for FUTURA.

Please let me know what you think. Here's the link.

quadibloc's picture

I just noticed that, astoundingly, one of my favorite quotes is missing from this thread. Another quote from the same person is present, and a quote from a different individual expressing a similar idea is present... but this famous quote is not:

Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You may choose your own favourite vintage for this imaginary demonstration, so that it be a deep shimmering crimson in colour. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.

Bear with me in this long-winded and fragrant metaphor; for you will find that almost all the virtues of the perfect wine-glass have a parallel in typography.

Beatrice Warde

Actually, looking at her essay, I see why: it doesn't contain a single short quote giving its point, although somewhere else I had seen a quote from her doing so.

Ah, wait: this will do (and, in fact, was what I was looking for but initially missed) -

Type well used is invisible as type, just as the perfect talking voice is the unnoticed vehicle for the transmission of words, ideas.

One could also say that her metaphor is out of date. Crystal is glass which calls attention to itself because it has had lead oxide added to it to increase its refractive index, causing it to sparkle. Lead can leach out into the wine, sweetening it. (And, for that matter, one of the virtues of gold is that it is highly resistant to chemical attack, unlike many other metals, so it is not unsuitable to hold wine. Wine is meant to be tasted, not looked at.)

So the ideal wine goblet would perhaps be of something more resistant, such as borosilicate glass.

@Chris Dean:
At least Josef Müller-Brockmann will never fall (or, rather, sadly, had never fallen) into the hubristic mistake once famously made by one of the Beatles.

But I will take note of the opinion that our salvation is to be found in the Swiss grid system.

hrant's picture

More like salivation.


Chris Dean's picture

There is no end to the maze of practices in typography, and this idea of printing as a conveyor is, at least in the minds of all the great typographers with whom I have had the privilege of talking, the one clue that can guide you through the maze. Without this essential humility of mind, I have seen ardent designers go more hopelessly wrong, make more ludicrous mistakes out of an excessive enthusiasm, than I could have thought possible.”

Warde, B. (1955).


Printing demands a humility of mind, for the lack of which many of the fine arts are even now floundering in self-conscious and maudlin experiments.”

Warde, B. (1955).

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