Tuesday Type: Art or Type?
Helvetica, Times, and countless other typefaces are rarely considered works of art. Instead, they are thought of as plug and play options, here to help communicate spoken word in visual form. While that’s true, most people don’t realize that most traditional typefaces found on computers, have much simpler origins as hand drawn sketches. Prior to computers, typographers had to design the typeface, this means creating tedious series of drawings of all the letterforms, numbers, punctuation and other typographical elements. Each set of drawings would be meticulously reviewed and critiqued, each version of a typeface becoming more and more honed with each series of revisions. I remember being blown away while watching the documentary “Helvetica” when in the basement of a type foundry, the curator reached into a storage cabinet and pulled out an envelope containing the original hand drawn letters for the typeface Neue Haas Grotesk…which later would become known as Helvetica. It’s so easy to just see type varieties merely as options, when in reality each letterform is the result of ongoing revisions and tweaking. Today, a lot of type designers rely more heavily on computers to produce new fonts, so those artists out there that produce hand drawn type are really something special in my eyes.
Designer and illustrator Rob Draper has taken to this art form by creating beautiful hand drawn type His drawings of beautiful flowing letterforms is a breath of fresh air in a world full of traditional typography. Where Rob decided to walk his own path is in the canvases he chooses. Where can you find his work? How about a loaf of bread, on the bottom of a bagel, on a coffee stained napkin or paper cups just to name a few. Why does he do it…I can’t be sure. However, it seems that there’s a beautiful irony present in creating such detailed works on such disposable canvases. Enough of my yapping though. Check out the links below to see his work for yourself. How do you feel about his artwork? Does it change your view of typography as art? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!