Does a type designers handwriting influence the typefaces they produce?

Alex Kaczun's picture

I would be very interested in seeing samples of type designers handwriting and comparing them to some of the typefaces that they have created.

My own handwriting, if you can call it that, is terrible. But, I pride myself on producing very legible fonts.

It would be interesting to hear what others have to say on the subject.

Send in your penmanship and font samples.

It might prove interesting.

Alex Kaczun's picture

That's my point!

We should learn all these skills at an early age... when the mind is young... and it's easy.

The older we get the more difficult it is to adapt.

Who wants to learn, after the age of 40, how to type properly (with all ten little fingers) and so on...

I do not want to "beat an old horse with a stick"... but, does anyone else agree?

hrant's picture

Yeah, we should definitely force our kids to learn something
they won't need in the least by the time they're adults.

hhp

Alex Kaczun's picture

@ hrant

I respect your point-of-view. I get it.

All I can say is that "I've already forgotten more than you know".

If you live long enough, you'll know what I mean. This is not a put-down, but a fact.

Sooner or later, no matter what you learn, it will have to be forgotten, unlearned, and a new approach taken to continue and stay competitive and productive. That's a fact of life.

Don't be too quick to throw out the "basic tools" premise or monkey wrench.

You may need it again some day. A good carpenter takes good care of his tools.

hrant's picture

You know, initially I got upset at your condescending tone, but
when I took into account that you have yet to write anything on
Typophile that has caused me to think I realized it's not worth
the trouble. If you have the desire and ability to engage in more
than old-timer drivel, I would ask that you try harder; I'm sure
there's something in your experience that can benefit more than
the mere neophyte.

hhp

TurtleType's picture

Has there been any other time in history when a seemingly "conventional" practice has been overtaken by a new technology? Do you need to milk your cows, feed and water your horses, or even mail that letter!? These are VERY volitile times. The "need" of legible handwriting is slowly becoming less and less "needful". Not to say that I enjoy seeing that happen; I am 31 and a lot more will change in the next 31 years, and sometimes all you can do is sit back and watch. Pretty fascinating really...

dezcom's picture

Damn. where is the nearest blacksmith shop?
Right next door to the Phototypesetting shop.

riccard0's picture

Damn. where is the nearest blacksmith shop?

Just ask Siri ;-)

dezcom's picture

Siri-usly? ;-)

hrant's picture

Just don't ask it where to get an abortion:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15982466

hhp

riccard0's picture

I was waiting for you, Hrant ;-)

dinazina's picture

Turtletype says "these are very volatile times" due to the breathtaking speed of technological progress, and everyone agrees. Yes, we are spoiled.

No one has addressed my earlier suggestion that techno-progress may reverse, due to peak oil, energy deficits, climate disasters, and resource wars. We may not have our little techno-gadgets chirping at our fingertips. "Old-timer drivel" may seem useful then.

I don't think I'd do well. I hate roughing it, I won't even go camping. I'm a vegetarian, raw meat disgusts me. I don't want to kill animals and eat them to survive. I have no idea how to milk a goat, if I were lucky enough to acquire one (it has to be a female, I know that much). Endless hours of canning after boiling foodstuff over an open fire would be a drag.

I've always liked to read at night, that's kinda hard by candlelight.

My fashionable wardrobe would be impractical to say the least. I'd have to clomp around in rubber boots and thick wool socks most of the year. If someone didn't steal them. Laundering clothes would be difficult. The nearest river is real polluted. Everybody would smell.

But I WOULD remember how to write by hand. That would be a useful skill.

Nick Cooke's picture

But I WOULD remember how to write by hand. That would be a useful skill.

I don't think you'd have time, what with all that other stuff you'd be doing.

hrant's picture

Just for the record, I don't own/use a cellphone.
To me none of this is about relishing technology,
it's about common sense.

> I don't want to kill animals and eat them to survive.

You'd make a lousy animal.

BTW, if a vegan is an extreme vegetarian, I'd like to
figure out a term for an extreme meat-eater: somebody
who only eats the meat of carnivorous animals. :-)

> That would be a useful skill.

I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. And I have to
add that this sort of expression is typical of
delusional handwriting-junkies.

hhp

dinazina's picture

hrant,
Why would I make a lousy animal? I'd make a good elephant. Intelligent, powerful, take no shit, nurture their young, sociable, matriarchal, and herbivorous, that's an animal I admire. Well, except for the males going nuts during musth. That's kinda harsh.

As for a term for people who eat only other carnivores, how 'bout Inuit (Eskimos). They have no choice, they live on whale and seal meat.

So it's ridiculous that writing would be a useful skill when the techno-gadgets lose their power. You're right, we could rely on smoke signals to send messages.

"Handwriting-junkie." Now there's a term that is truly original! At least, I've never heard it before. Oooh, the thumb-typing huuurts...I'm desperate....give me a pencil and paper, someone...

hrant's picture

Watch what the big alpha male (in total control since the start)
does in the end: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/15385364
(The "panicked"/"luck" bit is, pardon the pun, bull.)

hhp

TurtleType's picture

Dinazina, I read a book by Seth Godin recently, We Are All Weird which makes the case that the world is moving in a direction of specialization (hence this forum) and the "weirdos" who actually "enjoy" things like horseback riding or calligraphy will still be around; I just won't need to look over Adrian Frutiger's shoulder to learn to appreciate typography.

Speaking of techno-progress here is a Dilbert episode that shows what would happen if our satellite system went down.

dinazina's picture

Turtle,
The Dilbert thing was hilarious, thanks. I'll check out the book.

Can't watch the video. I fast-forwarded to the end. The ravenous-wolf-pack-pursuing-and-tearing-the-throat-out-of-a-large-animal imagery isn't for me, even if it contains a useful lesson related to typography or whatever.

hrant's picture

You clearly didn't watch the end (or any part of it).
But you also clearly had the time, since you did watch
(or at least claim to have watched) a 22-minute cartoon.
A lack of respect for content is one other characteristic
of delusional handwriting-junkies. Anybody looking for
a feel-good vent-friendly retirement home should really
try Typo-L instead.

> even if it contains a useful lesson related to typography

Which would be quite unlike your posts.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: A lack of respect for content is one other characteristic of delusional handwriting-junkies.

Hrant, this doesn't strike me as either fair or helpful comment. If someone who is a vegetarian, who is disgusted by the thought of raw meat, doesn't want to watch a video of an animal being killed -- even by other animals --, I don't think that constitutes 'lack of respect for content'. I might as easily and as unfairly suggest that your individual interpretation of that content re. the actions of the bull bison -- contra David Attenborough's commentary -- constitutes a lack of respect for content. [Personally, I think it would have been better if the commentary made explicit what is in fact the case: that we don't know whether the bull taking down the calf was accidental or deliberate.]

And I say this as someone who thinks having nice handwriting will not, in fact, be a useful skill to possess if the various apocalyptic options listed by Dina pile on. If she is genuinely concerned about these things, she should start learning how to forage, learn what vegetables grow natively in her local environment, learn how to distinguish edible and poisonous mushrooms, etc.. While she's about it, she might want to read Lierre Kieth's The Vegetarian Myth and make a reckoning of just how many billions of animals are killed every year to support non-meat diets.

hrant's picture

> I don't think that constitutes 'lack of respect for content'.

I agree. I was talking about pretending to have paid attention.
Somebody who does that typically believes that the content is
irrelevant, that the only important thing is what they feel. And
feeling is the only thing handwriting has left; which isn't bad
of itself, but expecting others -and even everybody- to share
one's feelings is deluded.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Ideally, I believe, education should positively expose children to possibilities, some of which will appeal to them as individuals, and which they should then be encouraged to pursue. This is the context in which handwriting can be learned as something pleasurable, in which a person can take pride of accomplishment, as well as having some practical applications. An education system that takes an all or nothing approach -- handwriting must be taught to everyone vs. handwriting is pointless to teach to anyone -- has so many inbuilt problems that debating this one issue seems as pointless to me as debating whether handwriting should be based on 15th or 18th Century models.

Té Rowan's picture

I get the feeling from reading this thread that cursive writing has become a rather secure means of communicating. Maybe it's time I used more cursive and less print hand? Hmm... lern meself Sütterlin?

TurtleType's picture

>Ideally, I believe, education should positively expose children to possibilities, some of which will appeal to them as individuals, and which they should then be encouraged to pursue.

Ideal is right. I wouldn't give public schools much credit beyond teaching kids how to fill in bubble sheets! That's one reason my wife (teacher) moved to a charter school. Even then my wife says they teach only an italic type of handwriting, however she said out of her whole class there was one boy that took the time with his penmanship...the rest could care less. There is one model I wish we had from the 15th century. Apprenticeships! What if printing and type was what you breathed since you were fourteen or so? How do you think the workforce would be? Instead of brainless, shut-up and sit-down classrooms where we are taught to be mindless skilled workers! Sorry, this topic just hits a nerve with me.

riccard0's picture

Hmm... lern meself Sütterlin?

Go for it. Then maybe you will come out with something even wilder than a “didone Fraktur-Uncial”!* ;-)

* http://typophile.com/node/87771#comment-485668

Té Rowan's picture

/me groans...

Aside: If you go to http://www.operina.com, you will find there an e-book named Handwriting Models. The hand I learned in school is roughly that on pages 12 and 14.

dinazina's picture

Hrant,
I am puzzled about your hostility toward vegetarians and "handwriting junkies". Or maybe just me.

I expressed some questions I had about the future with the smart people here - with humor (maybe I didn't add a smiley face?) I haven't insulted carnivores or non-writers. You're defensive, as if I had. Is anyone else pissed off?

I don't go out of my way to watch videos of killing. That is why I watched the Dilbert cartoon and not more than a few seconds of the killing video. Too bad if you find that contemptible.

I never asserted that "nice handwriting" would be a useful skill in the dystopian future. I thought it was clear I meant ANY handwriting. No electronic keyboards working, y'know.

That's my last word, flame away if you enjoy it.

John Hudson's picture

Dina: I never asserted that "nice handwriting" would be a useful skill in the dystopian future. I thought it was clear I meant ANY handwriting. No electronic keyboards working, y'know.

Fair enough. But so far as I know, no one is suggesting that people cease to be taught to write by hand, such that they will be incapable in the absence of electronic keyboards. What is being phased out is the teaching of cursive writing based on historical models.

Now, if people in the future rediscover a need to write a lot of stuff for other people to read and to write it quickly, then they will reinvent cursive writing, because that's what epistolary societies do. Today, if we want to generate a lot of text in a hurry, we type it. If at some point we can no longer use this technology, we'll start writing fluidly again. In the meantime, anything we need to write by hand is typically short and either doesn't require speed or doesn't require care.

dezcom's picture

Dina,

This PBS radio broadcast may be of interest to you:

http://www.radioopensource.org/curtains-for-cursive/

hrant's picture

Dina, I am hostile towards junkies of any flavor. In the context of type,
handwriting-junkies deserve special hostility because they keep type
in the dark ages. I am not hostile towards vegetarians at all. However
I have noticed that many vegetarians suffer from the same problem that
handwriting-junkies suffer from: denial. I hate denial. It doesn't make
a person bad, but it very much deserves derision.

There was no gore in the video. You were not honest about how much of
it you watched. There was the specter of death in the video, but death
is part of life, and I don't like weaklings who look away. If you look
back at how this started, you might realize that I was half-joking.
But there is still the other half.

> I never asserted that "nice handwriting" would
> be a useful skill in the dystopian future.

But do you not believe that?

And more than that, this juvenile fantasizing about keyboards no
longer working and everything else still being so OK that people
have the time/need/inclination to write (did you pay attention to
what Nick wrote?) is simply annoying. It is motivated by a self-
involved desire to justify an arbitrary preference for a marking
method. Nevermind that most people who don't believe that
handwriting remains important have totally legible handwriting.

hhp

Té Rowan's picture

Fy fan, @hrant! You're so violent, I'm beginning to think you're a vegan!

@dinazina - Will tech. progress reverse? Not until post-apocalypse. Slow down? Very likely. There are limits to everything, after all.

Alex Kaczun's picture

"Suppose in the future there is a movement to ban the color yellow. Proposals to paint anything yellow are denounced as "yellowist", as is anyone suspected of liking the color. People who like orange are tolerated but viewed with suspicion. Suppose you realize there is nothing wrong with yellow. If you go around saying this, you'll be denounced as a yellowist too, and you'll find yourself having a lot of arguments with anti-yellowists. If your aim in life is to rehabilitate the color yellow, that may be what you want. But if you're mostly interested in other questions, being labelled as a yellowist will just be a distraction. Argue with idiots, and you become an idiot."...

Food for thought:

http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html

hrant's picture

So you don't believe enough in handwriting to fight for it.
But what do you fight for? What are the "other questions"
that deserve expounding and defending, here on Typophile?
I myself, strangely enough, fight for type.

Escapism is the sister of denial. And some of us argue
not to defeat others, but to become better by defeating
our own failings. There is no better way to refine one's
thoughts than thinking out-loud and as a consequence
have to defend them.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant, I wonder if type is something that needs to be fought for, or if fighting for something is just your way of being?

5star's picture

This thread just got interesting.

hrant's picture

John, clearly both.

"Conflict is the father of all things." -Heraclitus
We can discuss who the mother is.

hhp

Alex Kaczun's picture

"Pro" and "Con" are the various "good" and "bad" points of an idea. Say a manufacturer wants to build a new factory in town. The pros are more jobs, and increased tax revenue for the town. The cons are pollution and a high noise factor.

What are the "pros" and "cons" of teaching cursive writing? Read on...

http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/tln_teacher_voices/2006/10/the_pros_an...

http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=106011

http://www.cursivewriting.org/

http://www.writtenbyhand.com/colophon.html

http://www.thebehaviorsolution.com/cursive-writing-and-child-development/

http://www.blog.montessoriforeveryone.com/cursive-vs-printing-is-one-bet...

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: clearly both

Well, if (b), then you would say (a).

Somehow, I don't think Heraclitus, in developing his primitive dialectics, was advocating going out and stirring up conflict.

The mother of all things? If conflict is the father, then it stands to reason that conflict resolution -- or maybe mutual aid -- is the mother, since otherwise there would only be conflict, and no creation of mutually beneficial and enriching peace, however fragile and conditional.

There was no gore in the video. [Dina was] not honest about how much of
it [she] watched. There was the specter of death in the video, but death
is part of life, and I don't like weaklings who look away.

I'm not going to speak for Dina, who could best represent her reasons should she choose to. But I want to take issue with the notion that choosing to look away from depictions of killing -- even if no visceral gore is involved -- constitutes weakness. It speaks to me rather of the comparative ease -- especially in our society, where so few people provide for their own nutrition -- to empathise with the panicked terror of the prey animal, contra the more complex sympathy required to identify with the need of the wolves. To celebrate the kill, because of what it means for the life of the predator, is more a more distant emotional response for most people than pity and horror at what the prey goes through as it is hunted down. I don't think that has anything to do with being a 'weakling', any more than being able to appreciate the deadly beauty of the wolves makes us strongmen.

hrant's picture

> going out and stirring up conflict.

I didn't go out. I've been here ~12 years. It came to me.

> Well, if (b), then you would say (a).

Not to be even more (b), but: not necessarily. :-)
I can think of things that are worth fighting for,
but I won't be the one doing the fighting; and there
are things not worth fighting for, but I'm still (b).

The mother of all things: it doesn't feel right for it to be the
exact opposite of Conflict. Maybe the mother is Comfort.

--

There's certainly too much macho "appreciation" of killing,
at least where I live. But my reason for somebody like Dina
to watch the video isn't that she should enjoy it - quite the
contrary; my point is that avoidance of content (i.e. reality)
that makes one uncomfortable constitutes weakness.

Have you been in a room where a baby is being delivered?
Some people find it quite unpleasant. But it's important to
overcome the desire for Comfort and embrace the Conflict,
whether you believe the end-result will be horrid or wondrous.

--

BTW, in case it's unclear: the reason I pointed out that video
is that I was trying to show that even herbivores kill animals,
sometimes even one of the their own family members. There
is in fact a species of monkey where members gang up on one
of their own and kill it out of nothing more than boredom.
And humans are nothing more than animals.

hhp

kentlew's picture

> There is in fact a species of monkey where members gang up . . .

And I bet you can’t read their handwriting either. ;-)

dezcom's picture

LOL!!!

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