John Warnock, type designer?

Si_Daniels's picture

In response to "What's your favorite font?" Adobe's Chief operating officer Shantanu Narayen told Forbes...

"There are some Warnock fonts that are absolutely spectacular that we use within the company. John Warnock, as a founder of the company, did some amazing fonts."

Brownie points for picking Warnock Pro, but crediting JW for 'doing' fonts seems to take things a bit far? Or maybe not. Hopefully Tom will set him straight. ;-)

crossgrove's picture

Surely that's a joke. The COO of Adobe doesn't know about Robert Slimbach? Eek.

Si_Daniels's picture

I've seen his blog, he uses Comic Sans*

Cheers, Si

*I made that up.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Urm. No comment at this time.

Si_Daniels's picture

Sorry Tom ;-) I'm sure this is minor compared to some other "CEO/CO Oh, no he didn't!" moments.

dezcom's picture

The salary for being CEO of Adobe $bazillion...the value of knowing who designs their fonts? Priceless :-)

ChrisL

Jackie Frant's picture

It's an old industry habit...
Ask the guys who use to work in the back of Photolettering about whose types for ITC they designed, drew up, etc. and who got the credit for it all...

Thomas Phinney's picture

In all fairness, Adobe has something over 5000 employees, and the group that does only fonts is about 10 people. So corporately speaking, we're a rather obscure arm of the company.

Now of course, on Typophile, we're the most important part of Adobe. But I think we all know that typophiles have a slightly unusual perspective on the world. :)

Cheers,

T

blank's picture

. But I think we all know that typophiles have a slightly unusual perspective on the world.

Yeah, but the view from the Ivory tower is so much better.

Si_Daniels's picture

>In all fairness, Adobe has something over 5000 employees, and the group that does only fonts is about 10 people. So corporately speaking, we’re a rather obscure arm of the company.

For sure, if he'd said, "we sell what?" then you'd really be worried. ;-)

Dan Gayle's picture

So who'd win in a "Name that Type Designer!" contest, Mr. Narayen or Mr. Gates & Co.?

david h's picture

To err is human...

Si_Daniels's picture

I'd put my money on BillG, only because he fought in the "font wars" and according to his profile Narayen joined Adobe around the time the truce was declared, and Adobe's type output had slowed to a trickle.

Dan Gayle's picture

Wrong! The answer is always Steve Jobs! Ha Ha! I tricked you.

Si_Daniels's picture

Doh! You got me, again.

Stephen Coles's picture

Related: John Gruber on Adobe's New Direction.

...Salesmanship is [Adobe CEO] Bruce Chizen’s main passion. Not graphics, not design, not software development. Sales. ... The fact that his background is in marketing -- not graphics or technology, or, as in the case of Adobe’s founders, both -- makes it almost seem like a statement of the obvious. Of course his main passion is sales: he’s a sales guy.
But Chizen’s rise at Adobe tracks precisely with the company’s drift away from its roots as a great software company. When the company was run by graphics/technology enthusiasts, it was a great graphics/technology company. Now that it’s run by a sales guy, it has turned into a company that seems more interested in the sales and marketing of its products than in the products themselves.
david h's picture

> Now that it’s run by a sales guy, it has turned into a company that seems more interested in the sales and marketing of its products than in the products themselves.

Wow!! Great wisdom.

Dan Gayle's picture

I always find it funny that marketing people, who regularly work with "creatives", really could care less about the design side of stuff. (And, I might add, the technology side of design.)

Just make it work!

Mel N. Collie's picture

“There are some Warnock fonts that are absolutely spectacular that we use within the company. John Warnock, as a founder of the company, did some amazing fonts.”

For heaven's sake people, he's a Chief Operating Officer. That means if they can't find a doctor, and someone has their foot stuck in their own mouth, he has to operate. In this case, obviously and unfortunately, there will be no treatment available until he resigns, and his replacement does the job. You have to give 'im credit, at least for, knowing that they were not asking about a character on "Happy Days".

T. Phinney said: "Urm. No comment at this time."
I would go along with that, the staff is small enough already.;)

joffre's picture

“There are some Warnock fonts that are absolutely spectacular that we use within the company. John Warnock, as a founder of the company, did some amazing fonts.”

My opinion.
When John Warnock first started out he looked for a source of typefaces to license that complemented his technology when Adobe was first founded. Through his founding of a smart type development group he did initiate the founding, design, and development of “some amazing fonts”. The pen work he did was to write the checks.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Well, this just got much less exciting.

It turns out that the explanation is that it was simply a misquote. Shantanu may not be a typographer, but he is well aware that Robert Slimbach designed the Warnock Pro typeface.

Cheers,

T

Nick Shinn's picture

simply a misquote

Good to know Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't the only one that happens to.

William Berkson's picture

Thomas, is Forbes printing a correction?

Nick, the mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel as a Jewish state should be "wiped off the map" and the correct translation, "vanish from time" are not significantly different. The import is perfectly clear: he wants the Jewish state to be replaced by an Islamic one. He is evasive when asked questions about how soon and by what means, but he is perfectly clear that he wants it to happen.

Stephen Coles's picture

Oh dear.

Si_Daniels's picture

So how about those Colts?

dezcom's picture

Thank goodness for that quick segway Si! Glad you turned the subject right back to typography :-) BTW, I am pickin' the Colts too!

Yes Nick--The always faithful, trusty, "I was misquoted" comes in handy for lots of folks, even big suits from software companies that sell type. The way spin doctors work, we will never know the real story. We here all know Robert Slimbach is 'the man' at Adobe no matter what the "actual" quote was from Shantanu.

ChrisL
(here is hoping we dodged that bullett, whew.)

Nick Shinn's picture

Sorry, I forgot the smiley.

William Berkson's picture

>forgot the smiley

Sorry, a few guys make me lose my sense of humor. Bush and Ahmadinejad are two of them.

So it's the Colts, eh?

Thomas Phinney's picture

Ah, Chris, ye of little faith. I wouldn't have said it was a misquote unless I believed it and had good reason for doing so.

Here's the whole story:

When asked about his favorite font, Shantanu said that Warnock was an amazing series of fonts. When the reporter looked confused (didn't recognize the name), Shantanu asked if he was familiar with our founder John Warnock. In the fact-checking stage, we clarified that Shantanu's favorite font is Warnock Pro but did not get into its origins.

The reporter likely deduced from the name of the fonts, and then Shantanu's reference to John, that John created the fonts. This of course is not the case, and Shantanu didn't say so.

But given that it was a positive story, and a very logical misunderstanding (not a willful or sloppy mistake), Adobe PR didn't feel it was necessary to follow up with a request for correction.
However, they'll be sure to be more precise if the question arises again.

It's actually kind of cool that Shantanu is familiar with Warnock Pro - it's not one of our standard corporate typefaces (which are Myriad and Minion).

Cheers,

T

dezcom's picture

Thomas, perhaps I would have been of "more faith" if you had given this explanation before instead of just saying "it was simply a misquote" and going no farther. The much too often used line, mostly by polititions in recent times, is "I was misquoted". This tends to make the populace a bit jaded when they hear it with nothing further to back it up. What I said was "we will never know the real story". I made that assumption based on the fact that you did not offer the real story in your previous post, you only said "it was simply a misquote".

ChrisL

Stephen Coles's picture

To be fair, I don't think Thomas knew the full story until now.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Adobe is quite literally [3] huginormous buildings in the middle of San Jose. I'm sure it took a little longer to find out what actually happened.

dezcom's picture

Thomas must have known enough to be able to comfortably say, "I wouldn’t have said it was a misquote unless I believed it and had good reason for doing so."

At any rate, it is no big deal and not worthy of too much discussion.

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Nice spin, TP :-)

BTW, I hope Gauge ("working title only" with good reason as it's so easy to transpose the a and u) turns out to be "Geschke".

Christopher Slye's picture

Adobe is quite literally 2 huginormous buildings in the middle of San Jose.

Actually, it's three huginormous buildings. :-)

It started as one, then became two, and now three. BTW, is "huginormous" bigger than "ginormous"? And I actually think the buildings are merely "big".

dezcom's picture

Kinda like the difference between Grande and Venti at Starbucks :-)

ChrisL

Dan Gayle's picture

Doesn't the Seattle campus fit into the grand scheme of things?

Si_Daniels's picture

As the instigator of the post, I should chip in my 2 cents.

I suspected a partial quote or misquote was to blame. And the fact that the font was referred to as ‘Warnock fonts’ and not ‘Warnock Pro’ suggested that the PR handlers were out of the room, or had less grasp of Adobe fonts than the boss.

Having said that, in 100 or 150 years, in type history books, Dr Warnock will likely be more closely associated with the Adobe originals library than the individual designers. In much the same way as Stanley Morrison is associated with the Monotype revivals. Sadly many in-house designers, even the best of them, will be at best a footnote.

But it’s not all doom-and-gloom. One of the things that makes the font biz special is that the individual designers are credited – every school kid knows who made Comic Sans, Verdana and Myriad, but what name do you associate with Mac OS X, Windows Vista, Photoshop CS3? Probably someone who contributed little if any code to the product.

Finally the conspiracy theories that have sprung up around Tom’s reply show why the PR folks often feel it’s better not to correct obvious errors.

Finally, finally, how about Adobe in Seattle - birthplace of PageMaker and InDesign and home to Tom Phinney - it may not be as huge-mungus, but it's still important.

Dan Gayle's picture

Ha! Beat you to it.

Si_Daniels's picture

Maybe we both hit 'post comment' at exactly the same time, and via some some random chance yours got posted first?

Thomas Phinney's picture

The sad thing is, I actually found out a lot about the misquote within a couple of days - and then waited while I asked PR if it was okay to talk about it in public. sigh.

The thing about reporting is, unless the interview is taped, the reporter has to reconstruct the "quotes" based on their notes from the interview. So quotes are sometimes rather reporter-constructed, rather than literally what was said.

Cheers,

T

Dan Gayle's picture

I hear ya on that one. Every time I've interviewed someone for an article I'm writing, and I don't have a mic, the quotes start to smear into each other. But a good reporter can get the jist of what's being communicated without introducing factual errors. A bad reporter will report whatever it is that they think they heard, regardless of what the person actually said.

dezcom's picture

"birthplace of PageMaker and InDesign and home to Tom Phinney"

and site of TypeCon2007! (and a place some guy named Si now lives :-)

ChrisL

Christopher Slye's picture

Doesn’t the Seattle campus fit into the grand scheme of things?

It does, but Tiffany was talking about San Jose... so Adobe is three huginormous buildings in the middle of San Jose, and some other ginormous buildings in other cities like San Francisco and Seattle.

Nick Shinn's picture


"Here's the concept, Robert, just clean it up a bit."

Miss Tiffany's picture

3 Buildings? Dear me, I only remember two. :^/ And yes, I mistakenly was only referring to San Jose. Mea culpa.

In regards to huginormous, I'm really short, so it doesn't take much to be huginormous. :^P

Norbert Florendo's picture

...how about Adobe in Seattle - birthplace of PageMaker and InDesign...

Seattle, yes, but let's remember that it was at Paul Brainerd's Aldus Corp. where
Aldus PageMaker was created in 1985.

twardoch's picture

“There are some Warnock fonts that are absolutely spectacular that we use within the company. John Warnock, as a founder of the company, did some amazing fonts.”

If you think about this a bit, it's not that illogical. If you think of Adobe as a foundry, and John Warnock as the foundry's founder ;) , then from that perspective Warnock sure deserves some credit for those typefaces having come to light, even just by providing the financial resources.

A.

Nick Shinn's picture

Maybe Comic Sans should have been named Gates?

William Berkson's picture

>Maybe Comic Sans should have been named Gates?

Hereby nominated to the Typophile hall of fame to take place along side Chris L's "Carsonogenic" and Hrant's "Helvomita" :)

Thomas Phinney's picture

Seattle, yes, but let’s remember that it was at Paul Brainerd’s Aldus Corp. where Aldus PageMaker was created in 1985.

Absolutely. But Adobe's Seattle operations are the former Aldus. Adobe didn't have its own offices in Seattle before acquiring Aldus. And Aldus was acquired to get their next-generation page layout software that was in development, which eventually became... InDesign. Many key Aldus engineers are still at Adobe today.

(At some point the offices were moved from their former location to the current Fremont location, however.)

Cheers,

T

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