Typographic Trends: Handmade

This is the first in a series of trends I see affecting typographic design written by me, David Sudweeks, Type expert here at FontShop. One of the prominent undercurrents I’m noting in design generally is the move toward approachability and authenticity. The movement is fueled by a growing skepticism toward the overproduced, highly finished corporate brand image – or in fact anything that appears too easily reproduced – in favor of a more substantial, personable connection to one’s professional services, goods, etc.. When designing for such an audience, details that reflect thoughtfulness and humanness, such as a bit of playful script lettering or an aptly placed tooltip that gently offers assistance, aid in building a relationship between people and the things we designers make for them.

On using the word typography: Type purists like myself generally don’t appreciate seeing the term typography thrown about so carelessly as to include anything remotely related to letter art, such as graffiti, lettering, sign painting, or handwriting. Typography is the use of type, and type is writing using prefabricated letters (to be unguardedly concise). Lettering, calligraphy, handwriting and traditional engraving, while not type, share many design aspects with type and in fact overlap in their definitions. Rather than focus so narrowly that these disciplines fall outside the scope of the series, I’m including them; noting up front that they’re not all typography.

That said, today we’re only looking at type.

Madelinette carefully reproduces Crystal Kluge’s handwork leading to a nice, approachable result. Crystal’s hand to paper to type follows the traditional model, though also in vogue is type that takes one additional step.

P22 Stanyan, like many members of the Hand-made, Hand-drawn, Paper-cut genre, draw type by hand, and then turn it into type. The application of the hand-drawn style exists across many genres of type. Some are even named after specific faces, like Gert Wiescher’s Franklin Gothic Hand.

In other faces, the influence of the hand determines the construction of the letterforms, like the decision to close the loop of the lowercase g & y in Veronika Burian and José Scaglione’s Bree.

In the next part of the series, we’ll stay on the subject of hand-made type, with an emphasis on it having a presence in the physical world.

One Comment

  1. Claire Ellis
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for doing this blog – have been looking for something like it and finally found it!

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