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Long-time listener, first-time caller, so to speak. However I am thankful for the opportunity to seek assistance and/or information, etc., from such brilliant, creative people.
My dilemma is relatively simple overall but multi-pronged. In other words, I lack quality answers for three straight-forward but - to me at least - rather perplexing questions. If these questions sound elementary, hopefully people here will still take the time to force a smile and shake the rattle for this Typophile infant. I will spare the history leading up to my being faced with these issues, and yes it likely is as moronic as many might suspect. And no, I didn't conduct a search before posing these questions given their unique nature.
OK, Issue 1: Recently - on this very site I believe - I was reading a post in which the author asked how any why certain fonts appear "soft" on the screen. This rang a bell with me because I often have wondered the same thing, even if not in the same context. For example, on my monitor the typeface "Brown" looks magnificent in part because it has that soft or quasi-fuzzy appearance that actually makes it easier on my eyes. By comparison, a somewhat similar font, perhaps in the vein of Helvetica, looks very clean but just isn't pleasing to view.
I realize those were poor examples since "Brown" has lots of neat, subtle features that make it visually appealing. However in the past few weeks I've discovered something very important: When I view a typeface for the first time, 99 times out of 100 it has that almost-too-sharp appearance. Yet, if I run it through Fontographer and remove all hints, invariably that font takes on the same nice, soft appearance on the screen described above. While this discovery was personally significant, it presents far more difficult questions, one far more than others: In the opinion of the truly accomplished here, just how important is hinting to the every-day sans typeface used in a web browser, etc.? Common sense tells me it must be somewhat crucial since so much time, conversation and technology has been dedicated to "hinting." But to me for some reason, unhinted fonts almost always are more visually pleasing. Given that I am about halfway through creating my second typeface, this obviously poses a problem. Thoughts?
Issue 2: I was fortunate to spend more than a decade making a living doing exactly what I always wanted to do and there is no greater fortune in the world than that short of familial health and happiness in my opinion. Even when I felt crushed under the perpetual disaster that was my former employer's publication, I still felt fortunate and never once dreaded going to work.
That said, I assume most everyone here making a living in digital typography does so for the love of it and therefore can relate to the previous paragraph. In my little corner of the world, when you love something - be it music, sports, art, typography - you long to share it with everyone and try to get others to love it too. And even if they are the absolute worst at what you love, that person's interest and willingness alone can be enough to set a person's heart afire - much like it must be for teachers when a student thrives under his or her guidance.
Which leads to my quandary: for people who should with passion love the art and science of typography, there sure are more than one or two really snotty people here who would seemingly rather cross the street to bitch slap someone than stand still and encourage those standing right next to him or her. The question, then, is why are there snotty people here when nearly EVERYONE should feel nothing but immense fortune to make a living doing what they love? Or even having a chance to do so? Maybe it is just me, but for goodness sakes at times the venom flying around here is unbelievable. Am I hyper-sensitive or is that really a gigantic mud puddle into which I probably shouldn't jump?
And finally: I have spent hours upon hours for the past three years consuming everything typography-related ... except for that latex stuff. Anyway, one of the things I encountered has totally confounded me and I need some light to guide me out of this tunnel.
Speaking strictly in terms of numbers, during my three years of research I've noticed the designer of the Fedra type families seems to have invested untold numbers of hours of work - for years - trying to make this single typographic entity perfect both artistically and comprehensively. In my own uneducated, infantile inner voice I often think to myself, "what else possibly could be done to extend or improve this font? Soon it will include Ebonic accents/characters and play a little rap song on your computer when you insert a 'special character.'" Then came Greta, which is terrific but still in plain Internet sight is only a couple of fonts in what, six or seven years?
Meanwhile, somehow Ray Larabie/Typodermic manages to crank out what seems like three or four new fonts every other week! Obviously there are two very different things going on here. Is Mr. Larabie the world's most prolific technical genius that can analogically play Mozart with his eyes closed in FontLab and on a keyboard? In direct contrast, that same inner voice keeps saying "Dude, slow down a little bit will ya?" It's almost like there's a Typodermic Death Star hoping to take over the font world by sheer numbers.
Though certainly there isn't an actual "wrong" taking place, what do people here - perhaps even those referred to above - think about these drastically different timetables? Yes, I understand the likelihood some designers are bound by peripheral obligations and just can't get back to the ol' board as much as they want, while others may do nothing but generate typefaces. Still, even with that factored in, these seem to be extreme cases (perhaps there are better examples of designers releasing typefaces once every equinox). I am not asking anyone to trash this person's or that person's MO, talent, dedication, etc., but I am wondering if anyone has more broadly-stroked, generic opinions on this. Can someone make a good font in a week? Or to be a truly admired, elite typeface, does it require years of work?
I appreciate those who've suffered this long and might still have a pulse after reading the above, and really will appreciate those who take the time to offer their observations.