To master anything in life, one has to master the fundamentals. Once we master the skills, then we can truly learn how to find our own style—performing the fundamentals becomes second nature. We have to know the rules in order to break them, and its same in typography. We are just continuing a long, consistent history of typographic process that evolved to respond to how humans read.
As our practice advances, we adapt, but the fundamentals of typography stay the same. The way we used to handle type, 20 years ago, was for print, ink on paper. And although the medium is constantly changes, those basics have gone unchanged. For example, we’re now working in a digital world, and handling the characters on a backlit surface. Typographers are still establishing best practices for handling type for reading on screen. But the basic rules haven’t changed.
Why Type Matters
After running Ramp Creative for ten years, I noticed that typography was not being taught to college interns the way I learned it. And I ended up having to teach them from the ground up. During my school days, we created mechanicals (camera-ready layouts) and overlays with Rubylith masking film and dry-transfer type. Yes, we designed by hand. On my first job, I learned how to specify and send type out for galleys for annual report mechanicals of up to 48 pages. A few years later, I was able to transition to using the computer for production development. And the way we calculated and handled type, stayed the same both off and on the computer.
Communicating my own experience to our interns and designers has helped to create the curriculum we use at TypeEd. I now teach to help bridge the gap in typography education between the end of school and entering in to the professional world. I enjoy teaching, because I like to help designers become better typesetters. After all, design is rooted in type. Typography is the foundation of graphic design.