Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pre & Post Digital Type

Matthew Carter is both a pre-digital and digital typography designer born in London in 1937. Carter’s life of typography design has witnessed the transition from physical metal type to digital type. When he was only 19 he spent a year studying letterforms in The Netherlands where he learnt the art of punch cutting and he was able to use his skills to cut his own adaptation of the typeface Dante. When he returned to London he became a freelance designer and under Linotype he designed the infamous Bell Centennial, which was the replacement font for the Bell Telephone Company. Bell Centennial is a sans-serif font that was commissioned to replace AT&T’s current directory typeface Bell Gothic, on the AT&T 100th anniversary. It was designed to overcome the restrictions of the current telephone directory printing, which included poor reproduction and ink spread making the type hard to read. Carter designed the letters with deep ink traps created to fill in as the ink spread onto the newspaper fiber, leaving the letter forms open and legible at smaller point sizes. Bell Centennial is a typeface that was designed to address a particular need, technical limitations. Carter’s contribution to the practice of typography has been and still continues to be quite significant. He has experienced the development of pre-digital to digital types, designing a range of typefaces from these two eras. (From Bell Centennial to Veranda and Tahoma). His physical pre-digital skills have shaped him into the designer he is today, forever influencing his own designs and the designs of many others. Andrew Byrom, a modern-day designer uses a similar practice, where physical skills and ‘hands on’ practices have influenced future designs and resolved his digital typefaces.

Andrew Byrom is a contemporary typography designer born in Liverpool, England in 1971. He left school at the age of 16 to begin a four-year apprenticeship in the local shipyard. After the completion of this, he decided to pursue a career in design and left his job to enroll at the Cumbra Institute of Art and Design and later the University of East London, where he graduated in 1996. In 1997 he opened his own design studio in London where he worked for many clients including Penguin Books and Time Out Online. He also began to teach typography at the University of Luton and Central Saint Martins. He moved in 2000 to America to further his teaching career, here he divides time between teaching and designing. He has recently been commissioned to design typefaces for The New York Times Magazine and he has featured in numerous magazines and design books including IdN, Print, Creative Review, New Typographic design and Lettering & Type. Andrew Byrom is a typographer who can see letters in nearly every object near him, and further designs letterforms out of everyday objects and further transforms this into digital typography. He has created typefaces out of chairs, neon lights, and wood forms, which he photographs and digitally manipulates them into text. For example Byrom’s “Play” text was originally made out of steel poles, photographed and then established into a digital typeface. Similarly, his typeface made out of glowing light forms is truly amazing as the digital set of characters is created by one simple shape and by turning it different ways every letter in the alphabet is produced for the audience. Comparatively to Carter, Byrom’s contribution to typographic practices further explores the physical designing of type to the digital transformation. He may not have truly witnessed the pre-digital to digital evolution but he certainly carries out both the traditional and contemporary concepts of typographic practices.

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