BaskervilleTypography. What can you say about Typography? It is the Art of Type. Kerning, tracking and leading. Ascenders and descenders. X-heights and serifs. Roman and modern. Terribly interesting…if you’re like me.

As I think back on my early artistic endeavors that incorporated typography (even if I didn’t know what that word meant at the time) I can see an interest…an awareness that sometimes letters and words looked right and sometimes they looked very wrong. I wouldn’t truly understand the nuts and bolts of typography until college Typography classes at Pratt under the direction of the great Ruth Guzik. After a semester of Ruth hammering home the basics of lettering and its immense intricacies I was able to develop a more discerning eye for typography.

It’s really a curse. Riding the NYC subway system is a race to see how long I can stare at the horrendous advertising before my head pops off and rolls down the aisle, banging into every greasy metal pole along the way. I don’t really want this to become a rant on bad advertising – so I won’t allow it to – however let me just challenge anyone who fancies themselves a designer: take a second, or third look at your work before you send it to the printer. Do a spell check. It takes 3 seconds. Look at the kerning one more time. Take pride in your work.

I’ve been doing what I do for long enough that paying attention to typography is just part of the design process. It’s not something more or less special than anything else. It’s something that is considered and fawned over in great detail.

So we have this girl at work who is taking an evening typography class at SVA (School of Visual Arts) in Manhattan. She’s kinda starting from scratch and I really respect her for respecting the craft enough to get the basics under her belt. This afternoon she asked me to look at her homework assignment before she drove into the city for class. It made me feel like a college kid again. I was pointing out some kerning issues and we discussed the pros and cons of the serif in the capital W touching the capital E in the word “NEW” since the N and E were already touching.

It was all very exciting for me and gave me the creative rush that sometimes drys up out here in the desert of the real world. I decided for the image today to be a poster I designed right before I graduated Pratt. I gave myself the assignment to research a typographer and use what I learned about him (John Baskerville in this case) to show that even the most classical typefaces – such as Baskerville – can still be used in a modern, dynamic way. Hope you enjoy.