Looking for a quote

CTAKAH's picture

Ahhh I heard a quote long time ago and need it now but can't find it.... it goes something like 'the beauty in typography is not in the shapes of the letterforms but in the spaces between the strokes' but i don't remember it exactly, can someone help, thank you

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Sounds like something Gerrit Noordzij would say...

Tim Ahrens's picture

Here's a quote by Albert Kapr on one of his designs:
"The basic concept is to string together narrow white hexagons as counters and inter-letter spaces, defined by vertical stems and triangular serifs. The interior spaces are at least as important as the strokes that make up the characters." (source)

William Berkson's picture

"The realization that the balance of the counters was responsible for the actual beauty of a typeface was, for me, a revelatory experience." —Adrian Frutiger (Adrian Frutiger — Typefaces. The Complete Works, p. 217)

Renaissance Man's picture

While people typically associate typography, the backbone of graphic design, with the shape of characters, it also concerns the space around and between them. Ever since Gutenberg invented movable type, printers have set text in crisp, justified columns. To achieve this effect with letterpress, the typesetter would insert additional spacing material between elements (as well as hyphenating words where possible). Today, software does the same work automatically. When done well, the variable spacing between characters is so subtle the reader fails to notice it. When done poorly, gaps erupt across the text like wormholes in a damaged universe. To see examples of choppy spacing firsthand, take a look at the print edition of nearly any city newspaper.
Ellen Lupton, http://elupton.com/2009/10/white-space/

The American book designer Bruce Rogers considered proportion "the most important element of beauty in bookmaking," and found a thousand uses for it in his work. [10] Rogers wrote of the subtle relations of such things as letter shapes and page shape, letter widths and word space increments, of text area and page area. At the same time he thought "mechanical perfection" to be "inimical" to art: typographers should be artists and not engineers.
Despite his commitment to a modernist aesthetic, the Swiss typographer Emil Ruder also argued against a rigid or mechanical application of proportion in typography. "No system of ratios, however ingenious, can relieve the typographer of deciding how one value should be related to another." [11] Ruder thought that the well-spring of sound proportion lay in feeling and intuition alone. In creating shapes and delimiting spaces for letterforms, typographers must intuitively gauge the rhythms and the kinds of harmony that such shapes and spaces will create.
http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/bai/amert2.htm

The other day, I was watching a documentary called Helvetica. It's a great watch for any typography nuts out there.
At one point, they're interviewing typography designers and someone says that when you're designing a letter, it's not about what you put in. It's not about the shape of the letter at all, but rather the shape of the white space around it. It's the emptiness that gives the letter its beauty, its grace, its structure. Anyone can draw a letter; it takes greatness to draw what's not there.
http://www.strategictext.com/2009/02/write-whats-not-there.html

To my mind, beautiful typography is based on selection of a typeface in resonance with the text, the sensitive use of space between letters and words, the length of lines and their alignments, the space between lines and between paragraphs, and the placement of type on the page. The overall effect further depends on clear typographic delineation of the different levels of information, the color, light, and texture of the type as it sits on the page, the paper on which it is printed, and the quality of the printing.
Malcolm Grear, http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=664662

JamesM's picture

> It's the emptiness that gives the
> letter its beauty, its grace, its structure.

I've heard somewhat similar quotes about music -- that a great musician has a mastery of the moments of silence in a piece, or something along those lines. Maybe it was Horowitz who said it; can't recall.

CTAKAH's picture

ahhh thank you guys you're great! I think it was the one from the helvetica movie

Renaissance Man's picture

OK, now, who was the one that said that in the movie?

apankrat's picture

> I think it was the one from the helvetica movie

And I think it was Vignelli who said it.

Tim Ahrens's picture

Thirty spokes converge on a hub
but it's the emptiness
that makes a wheel work.
Pots are fashioned from clay
but it's the hollow
that makes a pot work.
Windows and doors are carved for a house
but it's the spaces
that make a house work.
Existence makes something useful
but nonexistence makes it work.

– Tao Te Ching, verse 11

wormwood's picture

... ma

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