. . . and Garamond is great why?

cosmorphis's picture

I hope I don't get a bashing for asking this, but what is so freaking great about Garamond? I mean, I know someone who goes to a design school, and they literally worship Garamond. I just look at it and go, "Great. That's a nice font." Personally, there are so many others I would prefer to use. I didn't go to design school so I didn't study all the history of the typeface and the intricacies of the typeface's bowl, stem, and whatever. I've read books about the typeface but nothing as interesting as they make it out to be.

blank's picture

Technical reasons aside, Garamond is great because readers generally find it easy on the eyes for reasons that are pretty subjective. There have been a lot of technically great font designs that have come and gone over the years because people just don’t enjoy looking at them, Garamond is one of the few typefaces that just holds up over the centuries.

NigellaL's picture

Dear Cosmorphis,

I suppose you think the Beatles are rubbish as well?

Robert Trogman's picture

Historically speaking every typefoundry over the centuries has produced a version of the original work of Claude Garamond. The best version is the Garamond #3 produced by ATF and Linotype.

muzzer's picture

AHAHAHA!!

Nice one mate! You don;t sound like a stupid, ignorant prick at all!!!

Muzz

Nick Shinn's picture

every typefoundry over the centuries has produced a version

Not any more, Slimbach's pretty much glutted the market.

William Berkson's picture

Billy,

try to draw a seriffed type that is as readable, as elegant and with as even a color and you will learn very quickly why it is so admired.

Dan Gayle's picture

Slimbach’s pretty much glutted the market.
What? With the two definitive versions that happen to ship with every version of InDesign? Nah. Never.

ebensorkin's picture

Billy you are just taking fonts for granted. Like the air you breathe. It's hard not to do and if you are not interested in design you may not need to worry. But if you are interested in design read on...

I suggest that you start by looking at the range of them ( just what I haven't done yet ) and realize that there are many many Garamondes and other related faces that happen not to be named Garamond, and that there are plenty of differences. It might take your eye a while to find & feell them ( let your mind wander while you do this it might not help at first - too imapatient ) but when you do find them - it will may be a delicious moment for you. And Typomania may sset in quickly after that. HAHAHAHAHA!

A side note: I have to admit that I don't love to read Garamonds. They seem spindly to me alot of the time. And fussy. But I have not compared them all and looked at them in a serious way. I have a feeling I would like Slimbach's version on account of it feeling a bit more robust...

hrant's picture

> what is so freaking great about Garamond?

Good question. A long time ago, a lot; these days, not much.
Most people who like it are just hopelessly conservative.

Beatles? Not rubbish, just boring as hell.

hhp

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

Beatles...boring. That hurt, Hrant. That really hurt. When I first heard the Beatles, I was at a grade school dance. The boys had on suits and the girls wore white gloves.

yeah, yeah, yeah,

Sharon

hrant's picture

To be fair, I'm too easily bored.

hhp

gabrielhl's picture

Historically speaking every typefoundry over the centuries has produced a version of the original work of Claude Garamond. The best version is the Garamond #3 produced by ATF and Linotype.

Wait wait -- but isn't that one based on the work of Jean Jannon?

hrant's picture

Yes, that's a Jannon (a genre I personally don't like). But what people think of when you say "Garamond" is in fact two things, they just don't usually realize it.

hhp

George Horton's picture

I don't think anyone sees Claude Garamond derivatives as exciting; they're just kind of baseline old-styles. Since the mature Garamond's intention in his romans was, I think, to produce neutralised, better cut and multi-size versions of the De Aetna type - even inheriting over-dark caps from a book for which Griffo had only finished his new design's lowercase - that characterisation goes right back to the originals. Garamond Premier Pro, at least in the roman, therefore seems inherently odd to me - it aims for the authentic character of a body of work that was meant to be unsurprising except in the competence of its production. In a sense, Sabon Next, with its almost masochistic neutrality, is the digital type truest to Garamond's intentions.

But then I could be entirely wrong about this.

Quincunx's picture

I'm a great fan of Sabon Next as well, I've had enough of Adobe Garamond, I guess.

But I must admit that a reading book set in a Garamond usually reads pretty comfortable. But I guess that probably has to do mostly with that you read best what you read most.

Jackie Frant's picture

Personal opinion about Garamond -
Overused and Overrated.
The x-height is very low, much lower than other well designed serif typefaces, making it more difficult to read -- not easier. ITC increased the x-height, but not by any great leaps. URW redid ITC Garamond and even increased the x-height a hair more... but.

Now Nigella - weren't you part of the bonfire party that burned all your vinyl Beatle LPs - back in the days when John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular that Jesus Christ? I swore that was you there.

Meanwhile, back in NY two decades later, designers like Mike Stromberg and Tony Russo were using Garamond and Cheltenham on every masculine book cover you could think of. For a while there - if it wasn't for Mistral sneaking in to soften the look, you would have thought that was all mass paperback bookcovers had to offer in the way of type.

charles ellertson's picture

Cosmorphis:

Tell you what. When you design a better font for setting text -- 7,000 lines of text (we call it a book), I'll use it, and I bet a whole lot of other folks will, too. So quit bitchin & get to work.

William Berkson's picture

>The x-height is very low, much lower than other well designed serif typefaces,

This applies to Adobe Garamond, which for that reason is not good at small sizes--though nice at larger ones--but not other Garamonds in general. I assume that Garamond Premier, as it does optical sizes, solves this problem. I don't have it, so I can't say.

hrant's picture

Jackie, readability is not proportional to x-height, because extenders play a significant role during immersive reading. The effectiveness of a given x-height size depends on the setting size, with something "bookish" like a (real) Garmond very well suited to around 11 point. Baskerville is even more bookish, being most comfortable at around 13 point.

> ITC increased the x-height, but not by any great leaps.

?!
It's so much larger that many people refuse to call
it a Garamond. Nevermind that it's a Jannon anyway.

hhp

crossgrove's picture

Wasn't the amazing thing about Claude's types that they were exquisitely cut? Seems to me that no types had been so balanced, nuanced, graceful and even-textured before. At the time this would be a major feat since every punch was hand-cut. Since we have infinite control over outlines now, this doesn't impress us, and we have literally thousands more types to choose from, so the presence of even a very true Garamond among them also doesn't impress us. There are so many types to choose from, many of them variations on Garamond, that Garamond has become a genre itself. The times are very different now. And our idea of what is beautiful and even-textured has evolved. For instance, in Garamond's time there weren't a slew of humanist sans designs to choose from, or even any sans designs to select from.

Really, Garamond (the genre) is a very sturdy and readable kind of type, so it's had longevity. That long life is one reason it's admired.

rs_donsata's picture

People tend to worship Garamond because it's all they know. It's like teenagers worshiping their favourite rock band as the best musical happening ever.

Don't get me wrong.Garamond is as good as popular; I would comfortably set a book in Garamond if I had to but almost on every time I would also prefer an alternative face because it's a bit dull and so overused.

Today there are plenty of equally good and also better text faces. Many of them will suit better than Garamond on a given project because of their character, texture, rythm, features, etc...

I like Dante for books and would love a chance to work with Collis as well, there you have to excellent book faces.

Héctor

Quincunx's picture

Yeah, I have used Dante for longer pieces of text. It wasn't specifically a book, but I could see that it worked like a charm. Very nice color on the page over all.

Nick Shinn's picture

You're in a restaurant and they're playing a jazz singer from the 1930s.
Guess what, it's Billie Holiday.
Time distills culture, and certain works become representative, far more so than they were at the time.
Of course, it's because they're the most excellent and significant, it has been argued, but this institutional process of criticism is just the mechanism which creates Lotka curves of hypertrophied popularity.
"Garamond" (/Jannon) is not really a typeface in the way that Futura is. Garamond has come to represent traditional typographic form, type's first three and a half centuries (with a nod to Jenson and Griffo at the begining and Caslon at the end). It is the quintessential oldstyle face, and in as much as Western culture has durability, Garamond embodies that quality.

ebensorkin's picture

Carl, those are good points and put well.

However; and this is going to sound like forelock pulling... but I am pretty sure it's true so I will say it anyway. I think would rather read a novel set in Beorcana than any Garamond I know of. Partly this is because the gramonds I know are digital and probably 'lesser' in a variety of ways. Partly this is because Beorcana has optical weights available which is no small advantage. And also it's true that the relationships of ascender & x height are more to my liking and probably more fashionable too. But finally, at least to me, it's just a better and more humane face. Put another way; when I am reading Garamonds I find my eye is just less accomodated than it is with Beorcana. Beorcana feel natural in a way that Garamonds can't match. And I don't think it's merely fondness etc. I think it's a case of being less visible as 'type' and thus doing the job better.

Just in case anyone wants a gander ( Carl doesn't need to look I would bet... ) :

http://www.beorcana.com/specs3.html

Obviously there are more reasons than sheer utility to consider. 'Voice' or style etc is important too.

But anyway. That's how I feel today.

poms's picture

I am simply used to Stempel Garamond the half of my life, always felt good with it, when reading it in belles lettres (my language is German).
So simple. Nothing to worship, nothing to put down.

Palatine's picture

Nick Shinn put it quite well. Garamond has become pedestrian in a sense, for the simple reason that it was so successful. It enjoyed such wide use and became the basis for so many offshoots and revivals and such, that today it seems boring due to its ubiquity.

Sabon Next, hwever, is a work of beauty. It is a much warmer, richer Garamond (or garalde?), and the ornaments, ligatures, and swashes that come with it make it a typeface that is not only beautiful without being gaudy, but also quite versatile.

And then you have Bembo Book . . . not much in the way of swashes and ornamentation, but since when did Bembo need any?

Miss Tiffany's picture

I don't think Sabon or Sabon Next are warmer. They are much more pre-optical sizing calculated than Adobe's Garamond.

Don McCahill's picture

> Garamond has come to represent traditional typographic form, type’s first three and a half centuries (with a nod to Jenson and Griffo at the begining and Caslon at the end). It is the quintessential oldstyle face, and in as much as Western culture has durability, Garamond embodies that quality.

Nick. When are you going to write a book on typography, and when can I buy a copy.

Don

Nick Shinn's picture

Don, I'm working on it, but work keeps getting in the way.

Quincunx's picture

I don’t think Sabon or Sabon Next are warmer. They are much more pre-optical sizing calculated than Adobe’s Garamond.

I (quickly) compared Sabon Next and Adobe Garamond in that other garamond thread, and Sabon Next's x-hight is a tiny bit taller, it is a bit heavier, more rounded of and has generally more refined shapes. You could call it warmer, or just more refined. :) The difference between Sabon and Sabon Next is considerable, as well.

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