Are you old enough to remember manual typewriters? If you wanted to produce decent-looking print material back then, you actually had to have it professionally typeset and printed. Selectric typewriters made proportional fonts possible, but they were no threat to printing professionals. During the selectric-typewriter age, I worked for a book publisher in San Francisco where I spent a fair amount of time editing proofs. And for quite a few years after that, I continued interacting with printing companies.
The introduction of word processors and then personal computers didn’t initially have any effect on the traditional print process. But enter Apple computers, and all of that changed in a very short time. Adobe started making fonts—and font families—available for Apple computers, and in short order, I was totally on their hook. I drooled over the Adobe font catalog trying to decide which fonts to buy. (I mean these fonts could actually be mine!) After making my decision, I went to the Apple store to purchase them, after which I had to manually install them on my computer.
Somewhere I came across a bumper sticker that read, “He who dies with the most fonts wins.” I put it up in my office. Because I intended to win.
I work on a PC now, and the graphic interface just isn’t as good as a Mac’s. I’ve learned to live with it, but I don’t like it. Yes, I have access to far more fonts now than I did 25 years ago when I had to go to the Apple store to pick them out one or two at a time. But printing from a PC leaves a lot to be desired when compared to either printing from a Mac or professional typesetting.
Occasionally I indulge myself by “leafing through” some of the online font catalogs reacquainting myself with some old favorite: Antique Olive, ITC Berkeley Oldstyle, Friz Quadrata, ITC Novarese, Nueva (used in the photo on the right), Ocean Sans, and Optima. There’s something about the shape and proportion of letters that I think I’ve always paid attention to—sometimes more than to the actual words or even the meaning. It’s not unusual for me to check out what font was used in a book I’m reading.
Typography is something most of us ordinarily take for granted. So I’m celebrating typography today, along with the artists who design typefaces, because beautiful typography has added a dimension of pleasure to my life for many decades. Maybe it has done the same for you without your being aware of it.
This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.