Thursday, 8 December 2011

Warmth in a digital world

The book of the week on Radio 4 is 'Just My Type' by Simon Garfield, beautifully read by Julian Rhind Tutt. Today's extract was about Erik Spiekermann, the German type designer. His descriptions of typography are inspiring and heart-warming. He describes using a grid as, "like cooking. You can follow a recipe to the last gram, but if the love isn't there it's just flat and bland."

Spiekermann teaches at the University in Berlin and tells his students that, "digital type can be too harsh." He suggests that warmth must be added by making a typeface not too perfect. Looking at his Meta typeface he says, "nothing is identical," and he has resisted any attempts to clean it up. The challenge is "to create warmth in a digital world."

We also love the smell of ink, its sticky blackness, the coolness of metal type, the imperfections of analogue. Whilst we love our Macs, we also love creating tactile, human, imperfect artwork and artefacts - and getting our hands dirty in the process. As Garfield writes, "We are still analogue beings. Our brains and eyes are analogue."