Thursday, October 11, 2007
Upper and lowercase
If I had my own way I would have become a graphic artist. Unfortunately, the college I attended did not view the applied arts as a valid art form, and when I graduated with a cobbled-together major in graphic arts I was essentially unequipped to enter the competitive New York design world. My self-taught PageMaker skills were no match for the fast-paced Quark requirements of most employers, and the discussion of a portfolio had never quite entered my educational curriculum.
Financially, I didn't have the luxury of continued education or training once college was over. We were freshly married, new to the city, and Todd was headed to graduate school: I needed a job immediately, and since publishing and book design were high on my list of interests, I found a job as an editor for a scientific publisher. That led to a position as an acquisitions editor with a new scientific imprint which somehow led to a job as an analyst on Wall Street which, well, never mind.
The point is, I love good graphic design, and I especially love typefaces and fonts. So now I read about them.
Right now I'm loving Thinking with Type, which is probably overdue at the library but I won't be giving it up soon. I'm fascinated by its exploration of the metamorphosis of fonts from the age of illuminated manuscripts through today's post-modern computer-generated fonts. It explains the classification of various typefaces and what those letterforms imply within the history of fonts. When selecting a font, graphic artists need to consider the history of a typeface as well as the formal qualities of that font. Frankly, I'm amazed that anyone can keep it all straight; there is so much information contained in each typeface.
Did you know that we refer to letters as upper case and lower case because of their location in the traditional typesetting drawers? (Oops, just lost some other crucial bit of memory with the gaining of this factoid. Ah well, it was worth it.)
I immediately thought of those uppercase and lowercase letters the other day when I found these old typesetting gridded drawers in our basement; apparently they held someone's knicknacks, since they were already wired to be hung when I retrieved them. They were immediately transferred to my new studio (ah yes, it's true. Photos to come!), where they now hold all my thread spools and bobbins.
I love the spectrum of colors above my sewing machine. The antique drawers aren't hanging on the wall yet, but I'm thrilled that the spools fit so nicely into the separate compartments, and I like to think of them as my own little typesetting drawers. Where my type never quite became the letters I anticipated in college, it instead transitioned into textiles somewhere along the twisty path my career has taken.
When I look at these photos I wonder if my uppercase letters are the neutral threads and my lowercase letters are the bright colors? Just a thought. Or maybe it's actually the reverse.