Is every typographer graphic designer and vice-verse?

kevintheophile's picture

Hello, is every typograpger or typodesigner graphic designer and every graphic designer typograpger or typodesigner? Are typography and graphic design same things? So I've seen many graphic designers having created the fonts and typodesigners or typographers having created the pictures...

jabez's picture

No.

charles ellertson's picture

Not only no, but hell no.

kevintheophile's picture

See what Wikipedia in English says about graphic design:
The term graphic design can refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus on visual communication and presentation. Various methods are used to create and combine symbols, images and/or words to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce the final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_design

If every graphic designer isn't typographer, why did Wikipedia tell it?

russellm's picture

some engineers can design bridges. Others can't, but may know a thing or two about designing airplanes.

Same broad category, different skill sets, or applications of similar skill sets.

>If every graphic designer isn't typographer, why did Wikipedia tell it?

Wikipedia has never been wrong before. I really don't get how that could have happened.

Stephen Coles's picture

First, keep in mind there is a proper distinction between the terms type designer (one who creates typefaces) and typographer (one who uses typefaces).

Which one are you referring to?

kevintheophile's picture

Type designer

Stephen Coles's picture

Then the answer is certainly no. Think of the difference between a tool maker and a tool user. The best swordsmith in the world might not be a great swordfighter. It helps for each to know something about the other's skill, but they are completely separate disciplines.

Do you mind if I change your topic title for clarity?

charles ellertson's picture

If every graphic designer isn't typographer, why did Wikipedia tell it?

Funny thing about Wikipedia. I use it too, but I've noticed that when the topic is one of those rare ones where I really have some expertise, Wikipedia often comes up a bit short. Anybody else get this reaction? It is a valuable source for information at the survey level, but often not much beyond that.

William Berkson's picture

My impression of the Wikipedia is that it is uneven. Often enough the articles are really outstanding, in the way of being concise and full of insight. And often they are perfunctory and superficial. I'm a huge fan, but I think to get the most out of it you have to read it with the unevenness in mind. It is a great starting point.

Steven Acres's picture

I don't really see anything wrong about Wikipedia's entry.

The term graphic design can refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus on visual communication and presentation. Various methods are used to create and combine symbols, images and/or words to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce the final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated.

Yes, a graphic designer MAY use typography. Where does it say "Every Graphic Designer must always use typography" or "Every Graphic Designer is a typographer." It doesn't, it's merely listing possibilities.

Arno Enslin's picture

Which one are you referring to?

Type designer

Then the answer is certainly no.

I think, it is just the other way around. The chance, that a type designer is a good graphic designer is a bit greater, because typography does not necessarily mean to use letters as elements of design. A type designer must have a closer look onto the single letters in enlargement and is confronted more with the forms of the letters, while a typgrapher of text-heavy books is confronted more with the harmony between spaces. While I can imagine, that the spaces also can be computed in future, I can hardly imagine a computer program, that is able to design a typeface.

But in the moment, in which a typographer is using letters as design elements, he already is graphic designer, because then the forms of the letters are more than symbols of sounds (single letters) or closely defined notions (predefined letter strings / words).

But you also wanted to know, if a graphic designer is necessarily also a typographer or typeface designer. My answer: No, because both, typography and typeface design require a deeper or at least a different comprehension of human perception. In a closer sense typography shall transport predefined ideas/notions (words or phrases) in the most effective way, while graphic design is playing more with the wide range of concrete forms of the notions.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Many (but not all) graphic designers are typographers. A graphic designer is necessarily a particularly good or well trained typographer, however. It's not all that unusual for a graphic designer to know lots about expressive typography, using type to create mood and feeling, but very little about typographic history or the "rules" of typography. I see material with just basic errors, such as "dumb quotes" (a.k.a. "typewriter quotes") produced by folks who are nominally graphic designers.

Speaking as a sometimes type designer, and somebody who is definitely a typographer, I can attest that not all typographers or type designers are necessarily graphic designers. I'm certainly not. I did a really mediocre poster for Hypatia Sans that my then-colleagues at Adobe very sensibly suggested wasn't worth posting on the Adobe type blog as a free download. :(

On the other hand, I've recently been collaborating with a graphic designer at work on some logo designs, and it's been a great process, because she has brought her graphic design sensibility into the process, and I have an understanding of letterform construction and balance that she lacks. I think our first logo was very successful, and I look forward to continuing work on others.

Cheers,

T

Nick Shinn's picture

Kevin, graphic design is a registered profession in the province of Ontario, which is unusual.
To become an R.G.D. you need a degree, some experience, and must pass a test.
So that kind of graphic designer has well-rounded abilities (although type design may not be part of it, not being included as a part of all degree courses).

Whether with qualifications or not, graphic designers have a spectrum of abilities, and that applies to how they handle typography as well as things like colour, illustration, photography, motion graphics, interactivity, logos, environmental, &c.

Advertising art directors should be considered too, although they generally manage to fly under the radar, without even a Wiki entry for art direction. But what else could one expect of the stealthy bastards who orchestrate consumer culture?!

Some people have a feel for display type, some for text work. Some of the best typographers I know are not graphic designers per se, but come from an editorial background: to them it's important how the text is read. By the same token, some of the worst typographers are graphic designer to whom text is nothing more than parallel grey bars in a page layout.

As a type designer, whether of the Heroic DTP era, or coming to it in the more formalized environment of recent years, you have to product test your prototypes in various typographic layouts as part of the development process. Get that feedback loop going. This requires a certain amount of typographic skill. And one is also obliged to present one's designs in specimens: for competitions, if one thinks they are worthwhile, as well as for presentation to potential publishers and customers. So again, typographic expertise is required. In fact, designing a specimen which puts a typeface through its paces is one of the most intricate and technically demanding genres of typography . To a typophile, nothing is more admirable than a good type specimen.

So it is far more likely that a type designer, especially one who designs and publishes their own original work, is a typographer as well, than a graphic designer may be a type designer. However, there are quite a few multi-person foundries where one principal concentrates on type design and production, and the other on the web site and marketing, or some other split of job function.

kevintheophile's picture

Guys, I understood u perfectly... finally, can I be a graphic designer, typographer and type designer at the same time?

Nick Shinn's picture

If you are working primarily as a graphic designer, you can use one of your own types.
For instance, Herb Lubalin with Avant Garde, Neville Brody with Industria.
But those are faces designed for specific projects (magazines).
I used to use my own faces occasionally when I was working as a graphic designer/art director, before I became a full-time type designer, but it was a compromising situation, because I could never be sure that I wasn't just using my typeface for a job because it was mine, and that some other face might not be better.
Now that I self-publish, I produce my own specimens. So you could do that too. In fact, all you have to do is sell a font at MyFonts, and produce a PDF specimen for it. Voilà.

Arno Enslin's picture

Guys, I understood u perfectly... finally, can I be a graphic designer, typographer and type designer at the same time?

Can you be father, husband and son at the same time? Well, you should not behave as a husband, when you should behave as a father, but you don’t loose the feature of being a husband or son, when you fill the role of a father.

Maybe it is comparable with the question, whether a particle can be a wave at the same time. And the other way around. It is dependent from your focus, which can quickly change. Maybe that comparison is hobbling a bit more than the first one. And the next one may be already lame: If you ask, whether you can be conscious and unconscious at the same time, I would have said, that you cannot be conscious, if you are not unconscious, because you are not you without unconsciousness.

dezcom's picture

"...can I be a graphic designer, typographer and type designer at the same time?"

I was a graphic designer and typographer for 45 years before I became a type designer. I currently only use my graphic design to do specimens and ads for my own type design (and the odd bit of visual humor I post here on Typophile or Flickr) but I don't see any reason why anyone couldn't do all three at the same time.

ChrisL

kevintheophile's picture

Thankz u all. Case solved.

peterf's picture

Typography is essentially the control of a single linear dimension (one-D) as the eye must travel linearly, and the mind parse sequentially to gain the logical meaning of typographically rendered language. Although the line folds back on itself to create columns of text, it's still not more than a fractional addition to the line.
Graphic design deals primarily with the planar (2D) space, emotional and instantaneous impacts. (3D or exhibition, 4D or animation are extensions and developments of the first two)

Well executed design, of course, has a full complement of both.

Regarding type design, it is the atomic to typography's molecular, and graphic design's chemical structure.

IMHO, of course ;-)

PF

slowprint.com
ideaswords.com

etahchen's picture

@ peterf
The last sentence you said, are you saying Typography is like graphic design's chemical structure? Just making sure, because that seems like an good way to think about it.

Nick Shinn's picture

You overstate your case, Peter.
Shape, colour and position are the raw elements of graphic design.
This much was stated by Lissitsky, and codified in PostScript.


It is also possible to have graphic design without type: icons, shapes and pictures, and as above, hand lettering.

etahchen's picture

Well, I guess it matters what your style is. If you use mostly type in your designs, then it'd make sense to say that "type is the chemical makeup of graphic design". But if you're into using shapes and pictures, then that'd be a different perspective.

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