Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Speak To Me/The Emotional Type

Dalton Maag Exhibition 03
Originally uploaded by Aiden Kenny.
“How many flavours of vanilla do you want?” — Bruno Maag.

I brought the studio over to the Image Now Gallery for a look at the Dalton Maag typography exhibition ‘Speak To Me’. It was very interesting to see the complete typeface creation process from initial rough sketches on A3 marker pads all the way through to detailed technical film tests.

We also attended Bruno Maag’s lecture ‘The Emotional Type’ at DIT in Mountjoy Squrae. The talk was well titled, as he is an emotional and animated speaker. It is always good to see someone so passionate about what they do. I also think that we always need to have such monomaniacal characters around who obsess about details like the inconsistencies of the diagonal strokes in the light-weight characters of the headline font for The Guardian newspaper, and where the pixels fall in the lowercase O when they are displayed in our interactive television guides. Admittedly I am probably more interested in type and typography than most, but I don’t ever think I would have the mindset to grind my way through the creation process involved in producing the 700-odd characters he was talking about for the standard four-weight Latin A font package he produces for most of his clients.

His talk was wide-ranging in its scope and fairly humorous in spots: touching on some non-conventional topics as typo-porn, the joys of metal type and going to the UK National Type Library and fondling a flirty Fette Fraktur. Indeed.

We also learned why never never to use Helvetica (never) and why if everyone used the nigh-perfect, yet arid, Univers then Bruno would be out of a job. London Underground and Typhoo Tea did not fare well under his withering gaze either.

The headline quote above was his response when asked about the role of custom font creation in brand identity programmes and the observation that so much of that work today is variation around a theme of ‘warm, soft and friendly’ humanist sans-serif typefaces.