the searing kiss of hot lead: a love letter to typography

I love reading about typefaces and font design.  Futura‘s “lowercase has tall ascenders, which rise above the cap line.”  Sexy. Tell me all about your ball terminals, baby.  Ooooh yeah.

standard type text: Elements of Typographic Style
standard type text: 'Elements of Typographic Style'

If you are likewise warped inclined, Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst is a fun addition to your library.  This is the standard text on type design — it was assigned as course material for my ill-fated attempt at taking an introductory class in typography.  Curse my complete lack of visual design skill!

The Typophile TypoWiki is a good online resource.

I’ve been an occasional reader of Typographica off and on since back when it was still  It can be too industry-insider and sail right over my head (see above RE: lack of design skillz), but it’s still enjoyable nonetheless even for the amateur type nerd.

The documentary “Helvetica” made everyone a type nerd temporarily in 2007.  If you want to maintain that type nerd status, check out this year’s “Typeface” documentary.

If you want some fonts to play around with on your computer, i like both Font Garden (especially good for handwriting fonts) and Da Font.

If you want to play around with actual honest-to-god lead type, and you live in Seattle:

a)  The School of Visual Concepts offers classes in letterpress, tho’ i’ve never taken any myself because they’re fairly pricey.

b)  The UW’s Experimental College has a letterpress printing class.  Also not cheap, but a bargain compared to the School of Visual Concepts, plus it’s a 2-day class that happens over the weekend and so is less of a time commitment.  Plus!  Once you’ve taken the letterpress class, Bonnie will let you sign up for her open studio nights to work on projects.

If you’re not in Seattle, the community at Briar Press is a good resource for finding letterpress workshops near(er) you.

Now that you’re a big ol’ type nerd, you’ll be able to follow the “So you need a typeface” flowchart no problem.  You’ll certainly want to put the Periodic Table of Typefaces up on your wall.

There is one thing i’d like to get my hands on right now, and that’s a free/low-cost software program for viewing, tagging, and organizing my vast collection of fonts.  I used to print my font collection store the samples in a 3-ring binder.  That is not so feasible these days!  Part of my problem is that i’m on a Windows PC whereas Mac still seems to be the standard choice for designers.  I’m perusing reviews of font management software, but if you’re a font nerd and have a recommendation, share some love in the comments.

2 thoughts on “the searing kiss of hot lead: a love letter to typography”

  1. One of these days I will get to watch “Helvetica” and other print geek-o-riffic movies.
    I’ve just learned this week that our printing shop in the Georgia Museum of Agriculture (formerly the Agrirama) has a moveable type press. Means I have to take another tour, oh bother.

    :) :) :)

    1. It’s a tough life when such things are forced upon us. It pained me so to walk thru’ the National Print Museum while we were in Dublin, photographing every single thing in the room.

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