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Sep 16 / Brian

Notes and Thoughts: First reading

Looking Closer: 3

Classic Writings on Graphic Design

1932 The Crystal Goblet Or Printing Should Be Invisible

Beatrice Warde

  • Pen name Paul Beaujon
  • Respected type historian
  • 1927 appointed editor of the Monotype Recorder (published in England)
  • “The Crystal Goblet” best known essay on the clarity of type and design


  • The content is meant to be seen not hidden
  • Designers ask what must it do? not how should it look? All good type is modernist
  • Printing conveys thoughts and ideas from one mind to many minds
  • Artists don’t think… they feel
  • As a typographer we must “erect a window between the reader inside the room and that landscape which is the author’s words”
  • “The mental eye focuses through type and not upon it”

This reading has a lot of deep metaphors that simple minded people must read twice. I enjoyed the relationship between wine glasses and typography. As a designer we must “reveal rather than to hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.” When reading this assignment, I agreed with the content and related with the information that it covered. Basically, less is mostly better. Sometimes as designers we tend to forget the message or “window” we create because their is no stop bottom when it comes to design. Like it said in the reading, If we put up a beautiful stained glass window, how can we see what is on the other side? convaying the RIGHT message is better seen through a simple idea.

Thinking With TYPE

  • How and why letter forms are evolved can help determine the right typeface
  • First typefaces – Modeled on the forms of calligraphy
  • Typefaces – not gestures, but manufactured images designed for infinite repetition
  • Movable Type – invented by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany early fifteenth century, revolutionized writing in the west
  • Movable Type replaced scribes and allowed for mass production

Nicolas Jenson

  • Fenchman
  • Learned to print in Germany
  • Established printing firm in Venice (1469)
  • Merged the Gothic traditions from France and Germany with the Italian rounder lighter forms
  • Humanist – Typefaces like Garamond, Bembo, Palatino, and Jenson (named after printers)
  • Italic letters – introduced fifteenth century Italy – modeled on casual style of handwriting – economical because it saved time (cursive saved space)
  • Aldus Manutius paired cursive letters with roman capitals
  • Sixteenth century printers integrated roman and italic forms into type families
  • Geofroy Tory – published diagrams in 1529, linking the anatomy of letters to the anatomy of man (produced as woodcuts)
  • Eighteenth-century typography was influenced by the new style of engraved letters

This reading was jam packed with information from the 15th – 18th century, illustrating the history of typography. It was really interesting to read how type went from a long tedious process to something smarter and easier as techniques evolved.

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