Sunday, February 24, 2008

Finally, a movie about type design

I was lucky enough to enter the world of typesetting and typography in 1976 when I joined Datalogics and started to write Pager. Hot metal typography still existed, with financial printers using Linotype and Monotype machines; in fact, the world of typography solutions has its high level split as "hot metal" and "cold type." The old guys (skilled artisans who had trouble learning how to use a keyboard) who worked at Bowne, Merrill, and RR Donnelley taught me about type; it's all the more humorous as I'm now about the age of the people that I learned from 32 years ago.

One may look at financial printing as a wasteland of typography. However, companies like Bowne were the original designers of the Bodoni typeface. These people taught me french spacing, appropriate financial table layout, and the correct use of fonts. I learned about kerning, letterspacing, and developed an eye for well-placed type and extra or misplaced spaces.

A movie recently came out that captures much of the joy of typography I have learned. The film is Helvetica, and they have their own website and a blog on type and films. There are trailers posted on YouTube, as well as a review in the New York Times. The movie is also available on Netflix.


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