I saw the film “Typeface” last night. I ended up sitting near a large group of classmates who I’m sure all share the same feelings about design that I have. They even conversed about their common hatred for the Gap logo redesign. I love my classmates. They’re as snobby as I am.
“Typeface” tells the story of wood type, which is very rare and precious and rich with history. There’s something very engaging and intimate about seeing people handle these physical, tangible letterforms. They caress every curve, and connect with every beautiful flaw. That is what makes letterpress so valuable. Seeing the people in the film handle wooden letterforms with such care sends chills down my spine. They are giving the forms the respect and care they deserve. Before the informative parts of the film even developed, I knew the emotional aspects of it would hit me pretty hard. I felt very sad for the dying art of wood type. But I also felt compelled to do something about it. It was an emotional roller coaster. My feelings drifted between inspiration, amazement, sadness, and hope. The saddest parts were when I realized that wood type will probably become extinct in my lifetime. There isn’t enough appreciation for such an impractical method. Sadly, everything is cold and digital now. But it’s faster and cheaper that way.
One part of the film that stuck with me is when Professor Ichiyama explains that students who work with solely digital type don’t feel the same intense appreciation for counter space and delicate, cradle-like kerning as those who start with physical type. That’s why I appreciate all of the analog work that I have done in my Typography 1 class. I learned to appreciate serifs and brackets because I drew them by hand. I got up close and personal with the anatomy of my Bodoni capital S. There’s a little bit of me in that S. I grew to love her weight shifts and beautifully symmetrical form. It is the tangible experience with type that makes such a romantic, passionate relationship possible. Films about design and art make me feel very inspired. I even had this to say about it: (which was later re-tweeted by the “Typeface” people themselves, with an endearing comment of “!” I might add.)