Are type designers nerds?

anonymous's picture

I've been designing fonts for several years and with every new font I've made, I become more and more interested in the whole topic and its history. But also, I feel more nerdish the more time i spend on typography. Anyone else feel this way?

flingford's picture

It's ok anonymous... You're among friends.

If it's any consolation, Stephen is two or three steps ahead of most of us in terms of type-geekitude. :P

It is true that there is a very small percentage of people worldwide who could engage in--let alone enjoy--a conversation about the stacked verses single story lower case a.



hrant's picture

Hello. My name is Hrant. And I'm a typoholic.

Bottoms Up,

crossgrove's picture

David Lemon had "TYPENERD" as a license plate on his car for some time. He might still.

adriano's picture

Hey, let's face it, on this business the last thing we need is the "I don't touch type for 2 weeks now" :).


david h's picture

"The more time you spend on anything the more nerdish you be."

Sorry. I don't agree with that.

William Berkson's picture

Nerd is an epithet of the lazy for the dedicated. Rather than accepting the negativity, I would rather smile and educate. Type design is a great art.

dezcom's picture

Like Curly, "I resemble that remark'

Geez, just because my lisense plate is the name of my typeface :-)


rs_donsata's picture

"Are type designers nerds?"

Most of them.. ejem I have not designed any type yet (is this good or bad I can't tell).

William, acceptation is the first step to healing.


ubergrafik's picture

The geek shall inherit the earth.

So shall the nerd...

hrant's picture

I'd rather be a nerd than an artist any day.


William Berkson's picture

> the first step to healing

Doing what you love is beautiful. It is its own balm.

hrant's picture

Doing what you love is lucky.
Helping others is beautiful.


William Berkson's picture

Doing what you love takes courage.

Many things in life are beautiful, thank God.

ebensorkin's picture

Of course we are - if we are any good!

Stefan H's picture

Ok, if time spent on your profession correspond to your "nerdishness", then I must admit I'm indeed a type-geek. I'm a very happy such, though...


Norbert Florendo's picture

Oh jeez... does that mean we're gonna see "Revenge of the Type Designers" next TypeCon?

Oh, BTW, will the real Stephen Coles please stand up.

William Berkson's picture

From the Wikipedia:

The word nerd gained currency from the 1950s at a time when many school students did not see excelling at school as "cool". Therefore nerd originated as a derogatory word (although some people now consider it a compliment), while the term geek became widespread later (1980s) and has avoided many of the negative connotations. Geek as a milder version of nerd may also apply to socially insignificant people, while nerd refers more to socially inept people.

Pundits and observers dispute the relationship of the terms nerd and geek to one another. Some view the geek as a less technically skilled nerd. Some factions maintain that "nerds" have both technical skills and social competence, whereas geeks display technical skills while socially incompetent; others hold an exactly reversed view, with geek serving as the socially competent counterpart of the socially incompetent nerd, and call themselves geeks with pride.

Some regional differences may exist in the use of the words nerd and geek. Some claim that on the North American west coast the population prefers the term geek to nerd, while the North American east coast prefers the word nerd to geek. Others on the east coast dispute this, claiming that they have always found nerd used disparagingly and geek used in a positive light. In Britain, this latter view tends to apply — nerd has more offensive connotations than geek, which speakers of British English often use affectionately. Compare anorak.

Diner's picture

When you compare the level of information required to design type. I'm often more baffled by participants of Fantasy Football Leages whom I consider far nerdier than the former . . .

Minds you Fantasy Football is also considered more macho :D

Stuart :D

antiphrasis's picture

<-- West Coast Geek

raph's picture

By computer standards, you guys are not nerds. I have heard rumors that it's not unheard of for typophiles to get laid.

On the other hand, every time you look at a menu and see the font rather than the dishes offered, that does ping your nerdometer.

I speak with authority here. I may not be the single nerdliest typophile here, but it's not implausible either. After all, I did bring my laptop to the SF beach bonfire last Saturday so I could show off my curve editing software. And, while I no longer wear a watch, when I did it was digital. With a calculator. Which could calculate in hexadecimal. Which I actually used.

Beat that.

hrant's picture

Raph, that's impressive, but Paul is at worse a close second: he's chosen
the font for his wedding... except he doesn't have a girl in mind yet.

BTW, I have a friend who used to have a watch with a full scientific calculator on it when he was a teen, but then he lost it or something, and has been looking for another one ever since. Any ideas where to find one? You geek?! No really, I'm serious.


paul d hunt's picture

he’s chosen the font for his wedding… except he doesn’t have a girl in mind yet.

i'm blushing... and laughing. ;^D

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Everyone is a nerd. And I have not worn a watch for the last five years (and that was one one a chain - kept it in the right pocket of my trousers).

Norbert Florendo's picture

Until the advent of computer jockeys, I had always associated the term geek with sideshow performers that bit the heads off chickens.

Comes to be that it is the original description of a Geek.

Yes, I'm old, but I'd rather be a nerd than a geek!

Bert Vanderveen's picture

From the Wikipedia:

A geek is a person who is fascinated, perhaps obsessively, by obscure or very specific areas of knowledge and imagination. Geek may not always have the same meaning as the term nerd (see nerd for a discussion of the disputed relation between the terms).

The definition of geek has changed considerably over the years. Below are some definitions of the word "geek", in order from newer to oldest. All are still in use.

A person with an encyclopaedic knowledge of random trivia especially those bordering on the highly obscure. Trivia geeks are often also known as ubergeeks.
A person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media. Comparable with the classic definition of hacker. Late 20th century and early 21st century
A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest. This definition is very broad, and allows for mathematics geeks, band geeks, computer geeks, politics geeks, geography geeks, geeks of the natural sciences, music geeks, history geeks, Good Eats geeks (Briners), linguistics geeks, sports geeks, figure skating geeks, SCA geeks, gaming geeks, typography geeks, ham radio geeks, public transit geeks (metrophiles), anime and manga geeks (otaku), Stargate geeks (Stargate SG-1/Atlantis fans, Gaters), Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel geeks, Star Wars geeks, Star Trek geeks (Trekkie), Tolkien or fantasy geeks (Tolkienite), geeks of many colours, genders, and styles, and last but not least, Wikipedia geeks. Late 20th Century and early 21st century
G.E.E.K. as an acronym came from the United States Military. It stands for General Electrical Engineering Knowledge. It is unclear if this was the origin of the current meaning for geek, or if the acronym was used in a joking way toward the pre-established meaning for geek (a backronym).
A person who swallows live animals, bugs, etc., as a form of entertainment at fairs etc. This often included biting the heads off of chickens. The Geek would usually perform in a "geek pit." This probably comes from the Scottish geck, meaning 'fool', in turn from Low German. 19th century

fredo's picture

It's all Geek to me.


magnus_rakeng's picture

I am totally normal. I even have a couple of friends.


Chris Rugen's picture

I've been branded a nerd by my friends, but our group takes pride in all being nerds in our respective fields/interests. We don't see 'nerd' as derogatory, just a way to say "You do this beyond the level of most, because you love it and don't care what people think." Though it seems that 'geek' is the word we should've been using.

Anyone who actually uses the words 'nerd' or 'geek' to be mean, and is college age or older, is probably just resentful about being a lame and uninteresting adult.

dezcom's picture

My sliderule/Haberule swivel hip holster is still the fastest draw on the Carnegie Tech campus unless I get my thumb stuck in my pocket protector :-)


ebensorkin's picture

> Good Eats geeks (Briners)

That's me too.

hankzane's picture

Raph, what are you doing here? Go back to coding that editor!

david h's picture

Are nerds type designers?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Do nerds only use monospaced fonts?

Glyn Adgie's picture

My friend is a good semi-pro photographer. I would not call him a photography nerd, though photography is one of his common topics of conversation, and he spends alot of time on it. Most people enjoy a good photograph, even though they may not understand all the technical details, and many people take photographs themselves.

Someone who designs typefaces, for fun or professionally, is in a different position to a photographer. Most people cannot see what the fuss is about. Almost any serif text typeface looks like Times Roman to the untrained eye.

This means that a consuming interest in type as such is most definitely nerdish. Nothing wrong with that, I say, except that it is not conducive to light conversation:

Freind at the pub: "So, what did you do last weekend?"

Type nerd: "I designed a nice letter 'g'. It was particularly well thought of."

Friend: "Oh. Hmmm..."

Type nerd: "Can I get you a pint?"

adiazpaz's picture

A "pint" or a "print"?

hankzane's picture

What is the fuss about, the all-seeing Mr. Glyn Adgie?

rs_donsata's picture

Now that I remember I was nominated the most "ñoño" (quite similar to nerd) twice when I was in school but I know it was only jealousy, jeje.


Glyn Adgie's picture

Curses! Foiled again! That pesky Sergej has seen through my superficial intellectuality, yet again. Just you wait! I shall be be back, and next time it will be different. Or not. Whatever. This is supposed to be fun, you know.

kco's picture

Yes, I would join all that agree to be a "Typographic Geek" but I say that with pride because Typography is the little thin line between good and bad design. You got to learn to love it if you are a Graphic Designer.

kco's picture

Hector, I've been called a "ñoño" too, lol. Donde estudias?

rs_donsata's picture

Estudién en la Universidad Latina the Mexico (que nombre tan pomposo ¿no?) en Celaya, Guanajuato.


hankzane's picture

This is supposed to be fun, you know.

And it isn't? I think you're wickedly funny.

Jared Benson's picture

I don't know about "nerd", but I wouldn't take the least amount of offense to "type geek" and I bet I'm not the only one around here...

anonymous's picture

Typophiles of the world, ligate!

It's time to come out of the counters!

Black Power! (And Extra Bold, Bold, Semi-Bold, Roman, Book, Light, Extra-Light, & Hairline Power, too)

It's time to take up our daggers and bullets, and-

(God, maybe I do need therapy....)

David Thometz
(Gimme that bottle, Hrant....)

Stephen Coles's picture

The more time you spend on anything the more
nerdish you be. Even sports fans can be
nerds once they become obsessed with stats
and facts.

Next time, resist the urge to post as "Anonymous".
Feel the freedom! Embrace your nerdishness!
You are not alone.


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