Typographic exercise / challenge...

jason's picture

This is pure indulgence, but over the past few days I've come across a couple of aphorisms that have both, for whatever reason, struck home. They couldn't be more different, and this got me thinking. Would it be possible to set both in the same face and still serve the spirit of each? So, a challenge of sorts. I'm curious to see what those with too much time on their hands might come up with to set the following:

1
Y'know what your problem is?
You're stupid.

2
How long will we continue to draw in our colouring books
an image of god that makes us sad.

Norbert Florendo's picture

> set both in the same face

Jason, do you mean simply set both in the same typeface,
or use the same face but with some creative typography?

Alessandro Segalini's picture

If you are going to use the same tone of the voice for both of them
I suppose the anwer is yes.

Regards,
AS

sim's picture

Is those two aphorisms are only a typeface question?

jason's picture

My idea was that each aphorism seems to require a very different approach (different type, different typography), and this made me curious about if it would be possible to serve both/each using the same type and the same typographic treatment. The obvious rookie approach would likely be to reach to Comic Sans for the first and some tacky script for the second, but attempting to use either of those styles for both aphorisms would clearly fail miserably. I suppose I was curious to see if anyone would take up the challenge, and if so what they might come up with.

Norbert, your second line is of course relative. How much is "some creative typography"? A little is often a lot. As I mentioned, this is a very indulgent post, so I don't want to limit anything. (We already tend to impose all kinds of restraint on ourselves anyway.)

The small press I run had, for a while, a project on our website that we called "Variant." The idea was that we would find a quotation and post it on our website, then invite poets to write something exploring that quotation. From the submissions we would pick 5 that approached the passage in an interesting way and post those to the site, with a single submission being produced as a broadsheet which we distributed to all of those who submitted, as well as sending copies to our subscription list. What made this interesting was seeing how a wide variety of folks would interpret/interpolate the same quotation into very different poems. I suppose I was thinking along the same lines here in that I was curious to see how a range of typographers would approach two very different statements with the challenge being to use only one typeface to set both.

Jackson's picture

This reminds me of Experimental Jetset's theory of Helvetica.

If I had the time I'd give it a shot.

dezcom's picture

Here is mine:

ChrisL

hrant's picture

Hey, clever.

hhp

Norbert Florendo's picture

There are several solutions that I can immediately think of because namely, if you take the "design" of a face out of the equation, the reader's mind will fill in the inflection.

Cheap trick and not necessarily creative by any means, but it works.

In the illustration below, by emulating a handwritten note, the reader directly connects to an individual writer's notes or correspondence and adds an inflection to the text.


Lassigue Dmato Designed by: Jim Marcus of T-26

engelhardt's picture

Odd... a blackletter typeface was my first instinct as well. I wonder why that is?

hrant's picture

Because blackletter is both cholo and religious/literary.

But this is really lucky. Generally, I don't
see how Jason's exercise could really work.
Which however does teach us about type.

hhp

canderson's picture


This is a font I made this week in couple hours. I am an absolute novice at type design. Hence the circles and squares.

dezcom's picture

My first thought was Fractur as a Nazi "you are stupid" and as a blackletter typical bible text. I liked the confrontation of Christ and antichrist. After seeing the text on the page, I thought it better suited to the problem as stated to use a bible/manuscript style for both but as a cartoon dialogue between opposite sides. Hence my solution.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

> I liked the confrontation of Christ and antichrist.

On the other hand, cholos are often strong catholics.

hhp

jason's picture

I have to admit that once again I agree with Hrant; that is, I don't see how this can really work, which is why I threw it out to see if anyone could prove me wrong.

Norbert's take on this issue seems quite sound, both in theory and in his example. I'm not a fan of Lassigue Dmato, but it addresses the issues at play in this problem. I'd be curious to see it in Dear Sarah. That said, the more I look at Norbert's graphic the more each seems to work.

I'd been imagining these aphorisms both as t-shirts, and as broadsheets, further complicating things insofar as the first doesn't "deserve" a broadsheet, nor does the latter "deserve" to be on a t-shirt. My thought was that only a relatively neutral type would allow all of these things at once: 2 very different messages produced on 2 very different mediums. That relatively neutral type, however, still needs a bit of personality to give each statement tone and character. Norbert's does just that.

Hopefully a few others will take up the call as well.

Norbert Florendo's picture

The reason I feel the sample below works is for the very same reason that the "design" of the face actually becomes a visual trigger to the reader, again filling in the inflection of the "anonymous individual" who typed the text.

I think the trick again is to make the reader imagine the voice of the writer. Handwritten and typewritten text (not word processing) puts the reader closer in contact with the writer's voice.


P22 Typewriter designed by Richard Kegler
Design owned by: IHOF

John Hudson's picture

I was interested in the idea of combining the two texts into a single text, yet still distinguishing them. Editorially, it struck me, as it seems to have struck Chris, that the two texts can be posed as a dialogue.

jason's picture

Norbert, once again your logic is very sound, and, again, it seems to work in practice. I'm glad, now, that I threw this out there as you've raised some important points about connecting the reader with an annonymous voice.

John, I'd steered clear of bringing the two into conversation, but you're right about there being a dialogue going on here (perhaps that's why these two stuck with me last week). The voice(s) of a contemporary mind cynically seeking "wisdom"? Maybe. My goodness, am I exposing myself through this thread?

Back to business: the interlacing of the two is a nice idea, and the tight leading adds a sense of tension, but the giant "STUPID" in the background feels a bit domineering and messy, despite it being camouflaged. I think the exchange between the two statements already makes the point presented in your design. And then there's the absent period at the end, and a whole lotta drop-shadowin' goin' on. But there's definitely something interesting going on there.

Much gratitude to those who have given this a shot so far.

sim's picture

Personal question

dezcom's picture

That's a good concept André. I wish everything in red was a cleaner sentence verbally though. Maybe if the text in red just said: "Your problem is...colouring an image of god..." and the rest was black?

ChrisL

sim's picture

I thouht about this sentence too, but I'd want to have a red colour on each line.
Here your suggestion Chris.

Norbert Florendo's picture

One reason why Chris' example works well is that he placed the text within the context of conversation by using cartoon balloons.

The next level of visual triggers that would improve the inflection tone of the text would be to give a face to the speaker:


-

I know that these don't comply with your ground rules for the excercise, Jason, but I started to push the question concerning text, typography, image and how they can effect tone and inflection. Plus it was FUN =-)

engelhardt's picture

Norbert -- your Sistine Chapel version is hilarious!

jay's picture

Norbert, those are really hilarious!

elliot100's picture

Isn't there a question mark missing from "How long...."?

jupiterboy's picture

^Yes.

dezcom's picture

James!
That is f*****' brilliant!

ChrisL

Norbert Florendo's picture

Yes... way, way, WAY COOL treatment, James.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes, once I was a type god, but now I'm plain stupid & happy!

John Hudson's picture

the interlacing of the two is a nice idea, and the tight leading adds a sense of tension, but the giant “STUPID” in the background feels a bit domineering and messy

Yes, I agree. I wanted something in the background to add to the polyphony of voices, but the STUPID doesn't work as I had hoped. I'd set myself a time limit of ten minutes, though.

sim's picture

It was to easy...

dezcom's picture

John,
There is still good dialogue going on between the 2 voices. The big word "stupid" interupts it in a way that is confusing. Perhaps the more straightforward approach would be enough?

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

I see the synergy working here as we learn from eachother. That is way better now André!

ChrisL

jason's picture

I was getting a bit worried there for a minute as Norbert & Chris started throwing chimps around, but some great developments here as the concept is further explored.

The angle taken by James & pushed further by André is coming back around to the conflict that drew my attention to these two statements in the first place, a sort of internal battle between the two. However, the proximity of the two aphorisms in André's has removed the "primary" dialogue (that is, two separate statements) and instead focused on the "supplementary" commentary (in white). That supplement is very powerful in the last incarnation, but a bit of lead between the two would retain the first level of distinction.

dezcom's picture

Sorry to knock youoff track Jason; some straight lines are hard to resist. I'll stop the monkey-shines :-)

Back on task:
Below is a McLuhanized version where the medium takes over the message:

ChrisL

Norbert Florendo's picture

Chris... please [STOP] and I'll stop monkeying around as well ;)

eliason's picture


I know the commission for this project said that the phrases couldn't be more different, but to me they both seemed like something you'd see written on a 16-year-old girl's school folder.

hrant's picture

This thread is getting way cooler than I would've ever expected.

hhp

jupiterboy's picture

I'd like to see some smileys over the “i” instead of the fat dot.

And a VanHalen logo.

dezcom's picture

"’I'd like to see some smileys over the “i” instead of the fat dot."

You should also add the word "like" liberally before every adjective and adverb too if you want that bopper feel:

"Dude, do you like know what your like pahroblem like is? Dude! You are like oh so stupid I could like hurl!"

ChrisL

jason's picture

Oh jeez. It's, like, all gone to hell.
That "sad" image is rapidly becoming self-reflexively ironic.

dezcom's picture

"That “sad” image is rapidly becoming self-reflexively ironic."

Splen it tu mi Lutci?

ChrisL

Stephan Kurz's picture

Greyscale colouring of god (or whatever):

Norbert Florendo's picture

> Oh jeez. It’s, like, all gone to hell.

Don't get discouraged, Jason. You must admit that many rose to a challenge you yourself thought difficult. You must take the wheat with the chafe, throw it up in the air and let the wind separate what's good from what's not.

Anyway, what other bunch of whacked eccentrics have you had more fun with and learned (and taught, thank you for your astute evaluations).

Let the games resume! Creativity needs a little elbow room.

jason's picture

Absolutely Norbert, not discouraged at all; this has been entertaining and edifying, and humbling as well. There was something serious, or, let's say sincere in my attraction to both of the aphorisms, and in the play between the two which began to reveal itself through this process. Earnest and/or playful, which has been reflected back in the various approaches.

And then suddenly I felt rather foolish as this exercise revealed a 16-year-old-school-girl. Ack! Wha? Really? Well, yeah, I suppose so. At first eliason's take set me off, but that's just ego. It was an effective rendering, which was, after all, the challenge. That personality had been there all along in the content, of course, and eliason just tapped into it. The grasping of the latter statement next to the arrogance/ignorance of the former. Pure 16-year-old.

Not to get all dramatic & squishy here, but this thread has been like a community coming together to explore an individual koan. Well, no, it has been a community coming together to explore an individual koan. It's great. Intriguing and suprising and faultering and humbling. And through typography? Go figure. Great stuff.

ps. Ah, look, at least in my browser the above copy not only ends two lines with "community" but begins two lines with "coming together to explore an individual koan." A typesetter's nightmare!

alec's picture

Hi everyone,
I'm new around here and I thought this post was very interesting and fun. Anyway I wanted get my hands dirty and join in.

Both line are strong. I love some of the examples above, so i thought I'd have a go.

Alec

dezcom's picture

Alec,

Your approach looks as if it were an official inscription. It makes the statement appear to come from a Society (with reverence) as opposed to individuals. This is the first example to push it in that direction. Well done too!

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

John Hudson and Alec's post made me think of the following insriptional idea:
(I used my own work-in-progress font "Now"
http://typophile.com/node/16147#comment-94901

ChrisL

enne_son's picture

This is a bit large, and I'm not sure how to display in line, so:
www.enneson.com/public_downloads/pe/stupid.gif

enne_son's picture

whoops, forgot the:
in our colouring books

will rework when I have more time

jupiterboy's picture

Against my better judgement. Note: I've posted this offsite because it is not pretty. I won’t offer any big explanation either. Let it be.

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y234/jupiterboy/PB160014.jpg

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