Typography Sketch Books
Although it has been talked about since late September I just got my complimentary copy of Typography Sketch Books by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) today. So I apologize for being behind the curve. My six pages show sketches, proofs and notes for my Origins, Kolo and Donatello typefaces. (The former was a custom typeface for Origins, the cosmetics firm, and is not available for general sale.) The book is not limited to sketches for typefaces though it does include work by Matthew Carter, James Montalbano and Erik Spiekermann and a few other type designers. Most of the work is by illustrators, letterers and graphic designers. The roster of names is wide-ranging: Charles Spencer Anderson, R.O Blechman, Art Chantry, Ivan Chermayeff, Tim Girvin, Milton Glaser, Maira Kalman, Javier Marsical, Gary Panter, Rick Valicenti and Doyald Young are just a few of the contributors.
There is little text in Typography Sketch Books, just a short paragraph explaining who each individual is and what their views are about sketchbooks. Yomar Augusto, a Brazilian designer, says, “Design is a profession attached to waste, so the sketchbooks are great to keep this ‘waste’.” Or this from Peter Bil’ak: “Sometimes I draw just for the joy of drawing. My sketches are usually tiny and very rough—they are meant as the first translation of an abstract idea into visual form.”
The emphasis in Typography Sketch Books is on two or more pages of extracts from each person’s sketchbooks. Not surprisingly, there is a diverse welter of styles and content. Some contributions are simple monochrome outlined sketches of letters, others are colorful collections of vernacular signage and comps for magazine covers. There are doodles, paste-ups, fully realized logos and headlines, complex patterns comprised of letters, scribbles and notes, rows of multiple ways of making a single letter, calligraphic experiments and more. It is this diversity of materials, tools, methods and content that make Typography Sketch Books so delicious to dip into at random.
My own contributions are fairly sober: some tight drawings for Origins characters, including explorations of alternative ampersands; a chart created to help with spacing the characters of Kolo; early drawings of Kolo with notations both by me and my colleague Garrett Boge; some proofs of Kolo marked up by myself; and letters redrawn from Florentine rubbings that were one of the bases for Donatello. They provide intriguing glimpses into my design process but, unfortunately, do not give the reader a complete sense of the stages involved. That will have to wait for another book or another post to Blue Pencil. For now Typography Sketch Books is a tasty teaser.
A few additional appetizers are appended here.